Thursday, 5 February 2009

John Smith MP drummer boy for METRIX

Parliamentary clash

Mark Pritchard continues to badger the government on the rising cost of DTR. He submitted a written question:

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what recent discussions he has had with the Secr etary of State for Defence on the implications for Wales of the defence training review programme

The reply from the government was:

The St. Athan Defence Training Academy is a very important project for Wales. The substantial investment of Package 1 will create thousands of direct and indirect jobs both during construction and from 2013, when construction is completed.

On the 28th January the following oral exchange was recorded in Hansard:

Mark Pritchard (Wrekin)

John Smith has claimed many times that hundreds of jobs will come to Wales as a result of the defence training review programme, but the programme has rising costs and increasing delays. Indeed, in his desperation, the hon. Gentleman visited the Prime Minister this week, even though the latter has given no assurance that the defence training review will go ahead in Wales. Do we not need an early statement from th e Secretary of State giving us the truth about the project and its rising costs?

Paul Murphy (Secretary of State, Wales Office)

I have had no indication at all that there will be any change of plan as far as that huge investment in Wales is concerned. The Government are committed to it but I am sure that, when the time com es, there will be a proper statement to this House of Commons.

John Smith (Vale of Glamorgan)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that employment levels in south Wales will be greatly improved by the 5,000 jobs brought to the area by the defence technical academy? Does he also agree that it is about time that Opposition Members stopped knocking the project and began pulling together to ensure that it is brought in on time and within budg et?

Paul Murphy (Secretary of State, Wales Office)

That is what we all like to hear. My hon. Friend has been a great champion of the project. When those jobs come to Wales, it will be as a result of the biggest single Government investment in Wales ever.

Clearly John Smith is still playing his role of drummer boy for METRIX, but his figures are as credible as his knowledge of defence training. John Smith recently talked about the need to get away from “chalk and talk” training- it shows how little he knows about the modern training environment. PCS believes not only do his 5,000 jobs include over a 1,000 military posts- which to the public are hardly countable, but also many of the jobs Smith continually mentions are transitory jobs created during the build phase.

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