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Last Updated: Friday, 11 March, 2005, 13:23 GMT
Ingram slammed for RAF job 'snub'
Armed Forces Minister
Adam Ingram said the job cuts were necessary
The armed forces minister has been condemned for not visiting Scottish RAF bases where 1,000 jobs are being cut.

Adam Ingram was due to travel to Moray after detailing jobs losses at RAF Lossiemouth, Kinloss and Leuchars.

The minister said he was detained in London by the protracted wrangling at Westminster over new terror measures.

But SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson said Mr Ingram could have paired with him in the vote to avoid having to stay at the Commons.

Mr Robertson said: "He couldn't be bothered to make pairing arrangements in the House of Commons with me so that he would be able to speak to people.

"That's not a robust defence, that's running away from having made a deeply unpopular decision and announced it in a contemptible way in a written answer in the House of Commons."

The more we can save through efficiency measures the more we can then invest in the essential needs of the armed forces
Adam Ingram
Armed Forces Minister

Earlier, the minister insisted the job cuts were necessary to maximise the efficiency of the Ministry of Defence in order to invest in the future.

Under the plans to cut the size of the armed forces, RAF Lossiemouth will lose 700 jobs, the base at Kinloss 180 and a further 160 will go at RAF Leuchars in Fife.

Mr Ingram told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "It is in everyone's interest that we try and maximise the efficiency of what we're doing in the Ministry of Defence.

"The more we can save through efficiency measures the more we can then invest in the essential needs of the armed forces of tomorrow."

The minister said he understood the potential impact on local communities and insisted that much of the issue had been misrepresented.

12 Squadron Tornado
RAF Lossiemouth is home to combat aircraft

"There will still be about 2,200 people based at Lossiemouth, it has a stable future now," he said.

"Kinloss also has a major future in terms of the basing of the new Nimrod aircraft."

The minister confirmed the new Nimrod Maritime Reconnaissance Aircraft would be based at RAF Kinloss until at least 2013.

He said every effort was being made by the Scottish Executive and central government to ensure the local economy remained strong.

Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond branded the announcement "deplorable" and accused Mr Ingram of being "arrogant".

He said: "People knew there was a review, there was no indication of the scale. That's why there's shock and disbelief, particularly in Moray."

Mr Robertson, the MP for Moray, and Liberal Democrat MP for North East Fife, Menzies Campbell, criticised the minister for revealing the cuts in a written statement.

Mr Robertson said the RAF servicemen and women deserved better treatment from the MoD, which he described as "scandalous".

But Mr Ingram said: "This was a developing announcement, this was not a sudden announcement.

Schools will be affected, possibly hospitals will be affected, teaching will be affected, it will affect the whole community
Tom Bothwell

"This was on the back of what I announced last November. Members of parliament were then written to in detail and I really question the way these members of parliament are carrying out their duties."

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon announced large cuts last year, with the RAF coming off worse - losing 7,500 personnel by 2008.

Lossiemouth East councillor Tom Bothwell said he was very angry at the decision.

He said: "Schools will be affected, possibly hospitals will be affected, teaching will be affected, it will affect the whole community.

"And it will affect the housing market, no doubt about it."

Jim Hughes, who runs a car body repair shop, said every business in the area would be hit.

Families moving

He said: "There will be 700 less cars on the road for me to repair, there's 700 people who won't be eating in local restaurants, there are 700 people who won't be drinking in the bar on a Friday night."

But RAF Lossiemouth base commander Group Captain Russ Torbet said the situation was a fact of life for the forces.

He said: "We are a fairly resilient and transient population, we go where the air force needs us.

"The families who will be moving from Lossiemouth, some will be going not because they want to go but because we need them to go and work somewhere else.

"They're a little bit uncertain at the moment as to what's going to happen to them but we're working very closely with our personnel management agency to ensure they are well looked after."



SEE ALSO:
Scale of RAF job losses revealed
10 Mar 05 |  Scotland
Kinloss squadron cut is confirmed
15 Dec 04 |  Scotland
RAF Kinloss faces squadron cuts
03 Nov 04 |  Scotland
Moray RAF base to lose 390 jobs
16 Sep 04 |  Scotland


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