§ Mr. Bob Russell
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are his proposals for the future of the Colchester garrison; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Dr. Reid
As I announced, by writing to the hon. Gentleman on 13 October, my Department is actively pursuing the redevelopment of the whole of Colchester Garrison through a major Private Finance Initiative project. The aim is to provide high quality, modern barracks and facilities which are of an appropriate standard, are flexible to use, and have the potential for further development.
It is likely that surplus MOD land at Colchester will become available as a result of this development. I believe this will be of great benefit to the local Borough Council as it would allow the construction of modern housing and amenities for the local community.
Six consortia have now been issued with an Invitation to Submit Outline Proposals for the project which are due for return by 24 November. The proposals will then be evaluated, a final shortlist drawn up early in the New Year, and detailed bids sought from the shortlisted consortia. It is our intention to identify a preferred bidder by the end of 1998 and to let a contract by the middle of 1999.