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Defence Bases

Mrs. Madeleine Moon (Bridgend) (Lab): What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on spending on defence bases in Wales. [127780]

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Hain): I have regular discussions with ministerial colleagues, including the Secretary of State for Defence.

Mrs. Moon: The development of the St. Athan defence training establishment brings great potential to my Bridgend constituency. Will my right hon. Friend agree to hold discussions with the First Minister to ensure that an appropriate skills base is developed at Bridgend college, so that such employment opportunities can be grabbed by my constituents? [Interruption.]

Mr. Hain: Yes, I will happily do so. As a result of the excellent programme that
Welsh Labour has drawn up for the next Assembly Government, new skills academies
will provide key industries, including the St. Athan project, with access to
excellence in training and learning. My hon. Friend can maximise the potential
of local further education and training opportunities in her constituency by
working with the Welsh Assembly Government, and I am happy to help facilitate
that. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker: Order. I ask hon. Members to come to order. This is not fair to
those who wish to participate in Wales questions.

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): How many jobs in Wales he estimates depend on

the defence industry. [127782]

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Hain): Around 6,000 people are employed either directly by the Ministry of Defence or as a result of MOD direct equipment and non-equipment expenditure in Wales. Figures for indirect employment are not available.

21 Mar 2007

Chris Bryant: Wales may represent only 4.5 per cent. of the British population, but we provide 9 per cent. of the British armed forces. In addition to the
figures that the Secretary of State announced just now, we will get another
5,500 jobs in St. Athan, thanks to the new contract that we have just won for
Wales. Should not we in Wales be proud of our contribution to the British armed
forces, rather than try to get them thrown out of their bases in Wales, as some
people in Plaid Cymru would like?

Mr. Hain: I completely agree with my hon. Friend. The St. Athan project, and all
the defence investment in Wales that is of such benefit to jobs and the Welsh
economy, comes as a result of the strong partnership between Westminster and
Wales, between our Labour Government here and the Welsh Assembly Government in
Cardiff Bay. It is as a result of that partnership that we will continue to
build a strong Welsh economy, unlike Plaid Cymru’s president, who wants all Army
activity and defence investment, including training, removed from Wales.
Dee Estuary

Ben Chapman (Wirral, South) (Lab): What recent discussions he has held with the First Secretary on management of the Dee Estuary. [127783]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Nick Ainger): My right hon. Friend and I have regular discussions with the First Minister to discuss a range of issues, including marine and environmental matters.

Ben Chapman: My hon. Friend will recognise that the Dee estuary is a globally important environmental site and that when in the late 1990s a decision was taken on dredging in the estuary it was done on the basis of a balance between economy and ecology. Can he assure me that when a new application comes in for further dredging, he will take a balanced view and consult all the agencies on it?

Nick Ainger: I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for pressing this issue regularly. It is important that we do everything that we can to protect the Airbus jobs at Broughton on which thousands of people in North Wales and in constituencies such as his depend. I understand that the Welsh Assembly Government, the Environment Agency and the Marine Fisheries Agency met recently to agree a plan and timetable for considerati

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