HL Deb 29 January 1986 vol 470 cc665-6
Lord Tordoff

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to ensure the provision and maintenance of a swimming pool for the use of Her Majesty's Forces at Mount Pleasant, Falkland Islands.

The Minister of State for Defence Support (Lord Trefgarne)

My Lords, swimming pools are not usually provided at service establishments from public funds, but consideration is being given to providing one at Mount Pleasant in view of the special circumstances of the Falkland Islands.

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, I am most grateful to the Minister for that reply, which is far more helpful than I expected. I reinforce my point by asking the Minister whether the Government are aware of the difficulties in regard to rest and recreation in the Falkland Islands because of climatic conditions, and also of the fact that the senior officers there would very much welcome the provision of swimming facilities for the troops.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, we shall have to take into account the likely cost of such a pool, but the noble Lord may be reassured to know that there are already planned five football pitches, six squash courts, an indoor tennis court, two gymnasia and a running track.

Lord Alport

My Lords, may I ask my noble friend whether it would be a heated pool?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I think it would have to be.

Lord Boston of Faversham

My Lords, will the Minister accept that he has also taken the wind out of the sails of these Benches as well by his his very encouraging Answer? Will he accept that those of us who have had the privilege of seeing the development at Mount Pleasant Airport through arrangements made by the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, have found it very impressive? Although there are the facilities for recreation that he has mentioned, is he aware that none would be more useful nor, I suspect, more used than that to which the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, has referred? The reply is encouraging. Will the Minister continue to press for that development to take place at the earliest possible date?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I should not wish to go further than the Answer I have already given, except perhaps to say that it will be a question of finding the necessary funds.

Lord Pender

My Lords, does my noble friend the Minister agree that a cutback in the helicopter facilities for R and R would call for alternative recreational amenities?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I am aware of the problem to which my noble friend refers. We are currently looking into this rather complicated matter to see what we can do about it.

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, finally may I ask the Minister whether he is aware that people are not seeking an Olympic-size swimming pool or over-elaborate facilities? They require simple facilities, which, provided that they are there and are maintained, would be of the greatest possible use.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I note the noble Lord's point of view.

Lord Gisborough

My Lords, can my noble friend say whether these facilities will be open to the residents and also to visitors?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, the facilities are being provided primarily for the use of the servicemen down there. There are very few dependants, as my noble friend will know. I see no difficulty in making them available to local people, although I should perhaps add that very few local people live close to Mount Pleasant.

Lord Leatherland

My Lords, did I hear the Minister correctly? Did he say that this pool was for officers? What about company sergeant-majors?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, no, I did not say that. I do not think that would be at all proper.

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