HL Deb 30 March 1995 vol 562 cc99-100WA
Baroness Sharples

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have decided on the location of the proposed Joint Service Command and Staff College, and what impact this will have on the sites of the existing single service staff colleges.

Lord Henley:

During the Front Line First consultation process on the establishment of a Joint Service Command and Staff College, my department received responses from a number of individuals and organisations to our proposals.

All these responses have received the most careful and sympathetic scrutiny, and we have thoroughly reviewed the costings associated with our proposals. While there was general support for the proposal to establish a Joint Service Command and Staff College, there have been understandable local concerns, especially in Greenwich. No significant arguments have emerged, however, nor have any new suggestions been made which have caused us to alter our original proposals. The costings continue to demonstrate that Camberley is the most cost effective option.

I can therefore confirm that we shall establish the Joint Service Command and Staff College at Camberley, and that we plan to open it and close the colleges at Bracknell and Greenwich in late 1997. We shall now develop our plans along the lines indicated in the consultative document. The Bracknell site will he considered for disposal.

With regard to the future of Greenwich, I reaffirm the Government's commitment to finding suitable occupants for this most important historic site.

Our work on this continues. In terms of defence candidates, we have concluded that a restructured Defence School of Languages would be one such suitable occupant. This would generate at least the same level of occupancy as the two staff colleges currently at Greenwich. The nature of this establishment is such that, unlike the Joint Services Command and Staff College, it would be able to move in with only very minor changes to the fabric of the buildings and at a capital cost of only some £ 6 million.

We have also concluded that we should not continue to pursue the Tri-Service Chaplaincy School as an option for Greenwich. Work on an appropriate location for this school will continue, and we hope shortly to make an announcement.

In addition to potential defence candidates, interest in the Royal Naval College has been shown by organisations outside the Ministry of Defence, including the University of Greenwich and the National Maritime Museum. We do not intend to reach any firm conclusions on the future of the Royal Naval College Greenwich at this stage, but will shortly be seeking expressions of interest in the site from organisations able to propose uses sympathetic to the character of the buildings.

In considering the options, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence will have very much in mind his role as sole trustee of Greenwich Hospital, and also the imaginative proposals for Greenwich Park, including the Royal Naval College, by Dame Jennifer Jenkins in her report to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for National Heritage, We hope to be in a position to announce firm proposals to the House for the future of the Royal Naval College by the end of the year.