HC Deb 09 February 1998 vol 306 cc10-1
8. Mr. Bayley

If he will make a statement about the future district structure of United Kingdom Land Command. [26102]

Mr. Spellar

As my hon. Friend is aware, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army's Land Command has set in hand a study of the future structure of his command in the United Kingdom, the recommendations of which will be considered as part of the strategic defence review.

Mr. Bayley

I am aware of the study as my hon. Friend the Minister for the Armed Forces has answered with great openness a series of written questions on the matter. I ask my hon. Friend to pass on to him my thanks for that and my wishes for a speedy recovery. Can my hon. Friend give me two assurances: first, that there will be no change in the structure of Land Command before the issue is referred to Ministers for decision, and secondly, given that the second divisional headquarters is at Imphal barracks in York, that the appropriate Minister will meet a deputation from the City of York to discuss the Land Command structure before the ministerial decision is made?

Mr. Spellar

I thank my hon. Friend for his interest and for the detailed representations that he has made. As he has said, Ministers will decide on the issue as part of the strategic defence review. My hon. Friend the Minister for the Armed Forces will be pleased to receive my hon. Friend the Member for City of York (Mr. Bayley) in a deputation on that important issue when he returns.

Mr. Brazier

I also wish the Minister for the Armed Forces a speedy recovery. Are Ministers taking account of the fact that, until a few years ago, our forces in Britain were traditionally organised in a mixture of regular and territorial brigades commanded by operational headquarters? Is it best for them to be organised as they are now in a series of mixed brigades commanded by largely civilianised headquarters? Does the Minister believe that any of the brigades would be deployable in their current shape? Are those not proper subjects for review?

Mr. Spellar

They are very much proper subjects for review. That is why the Commander-in-Chief of the Army's Land Command is undertaking that review. We look forward to receiving his considerations. No doubt the hon. Gentleman will also want to put his views.

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