HC Deb 24 June 1997 vol 296 cc423-4W
Mr. Rapson

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the results of the review of the Royal Navy's Fleet Maintenance and Repair Organisation, Portsmouth and the Tidworth/Bulford and Salisbury Garrisons and on his Department's approach to efficiency in the Army Individual Training Organisation. [5475]

Dr. Reid

Against the yardstick of our approach to securing best value for money for the taxpayer explained in my hon. Friend's answer to my hon. Friend the member for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall) on 19 June,Official Report, column 264–65, we have now considered the results of two recently completed market tests, of the Royal Navy's Fleet Maintenance and Repair Organisation (FMRO) and of support services at the Tidworth/Bulford and Salisbury Garrisons.

At the FMRO, I am pleased to announce that Fleet Support Limited (FSL) a joint venture company formed by Vosper Thorneycroft and VSEL (GEC Marine), is the preferred bidder for the operation of the facility and, subject to a satisfactory conclusion of detailed discussions on terms and conditions, we will shortly place a five year contract for the management of the FMRO, with a vesting day this autumn. We are confident that the FMRO under commercial management will continue to provide a first class service to the Fleet. Additionally, FSL has guaranteed to attract a minimum level of commercial work into the FMRO and will maintain the apprentice training scheme. Although there will initially be some redundancies, FSL's bid provides the most promising set of arrangements for the future of the FMRO and its workforce, and for the people of Portsmouth. It offers excellent value for money, with savings of over 30 per cent.

At the Tidworth/Bulford and Salisbury Garrisons, I am pleased also to announce that the market test of support services has been won by the in-house team supported by a commercial partner, in competition with four commercial consortia. We expect shortly to put in place a service level agreement with the in-house team, providing savings of over 25 per cent. through rationalisation and reorganisation of the wide range of support services covered by the market test. Job losses will occur but redundancies will be kept to a minimum.

In addition, we have reviewed previous plans to conduct market tests at establishments throughout the Army Individual Training Organisation (ALTO), a Defence Agency. A new approach has been developed based on the concept of wider partnering with the private sector. We expect to introduce this programme progressively in the majority of AITO establishments. Previously planned market tests at some establishments have been abandoned in favour of programmes to achieve efficiencies in-house, with the prospect that these establishments will join the partnering programme at a later stage.

The establishments include the Army Training Regiments at Bassingbourn, Glencorse, Lichfield, Purbright and Winchester; the Infantry Training Centre at Catterick; the Royal School of Artillery Larkhill; and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. We will complete the contractorisation project at the Royal Armoured Corps Centre, Bovington, and issue invitations to tender for a market test at the School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering at Bordon, and for the renewal with wider scope of the support contract at the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers at Arborfield.

These specific announcements underline our determination to adopt, in each area of our business, the approach best calculated to maximise the value we obtain from defence resources.

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