Bryant: Wales needs St Athan
Jun 10 2010 by Our Correspondent, Rhondda Leader
MP CHRIS Bryant challenged the new Prime Minister to pledge to build a
military training academy in South Wales.
But David Cameron said he couldn't confirm or rule out the siting of a
defence academy, near Barry, until after an MoD review.
The Conservative leader then turned the question back on the Rhondda MP and
his Labour colleagues, accusing them of squandering the chance to complete
the planned St Athan centre while they were in power.
Mr Bryant, who was re-elected last month, and served as Europe Minister
under ex-PM Gordon Brown, told the Commons: "A lot of young men from the
Rhondda, and other South Wales valleys, are still serving in Iraq,
Afghanistan and elsewhere at the moment.
"The most important way to protect our armed forces is to make sure they
have the best training possible.
"Will [Mr Cameron], therefore, commit his government, unambiguously, to the
new defence training college in St Athan, which would save lives and provide
Mr Cameron, facing his first weekly Prime Minister's Questions session,
said: "Everybody who has spent time in South Wales, and spent time with the
military, will know there is an incredibly strong case for the St Athan
"But he [Mr Bryant] will understand that we have got to have a proper
strategic defence review. We haven't had one since 1998, and everything has
to be included in that review.
"But if he feels so strongly about this, and given that he was in the last
government, there was the opportunity to give the project the go-ahead
before the last election - and they didn't do it."
Defence dominated Mr Cameron's debut Prime Minister's Questions, which he
opened by paying tribute to Corporal Stephen Curley, 26, Marine Scott
Taylor, 21, and 20-year-old Gunner Zak Cusack, who were killed in
Afghanistan that week.
Belfast North MP Nigel Dodds raised the issue of soldiers who return from
service with injuries or psychological trauma, and asked that they "get the
care and compassion they need and deserve - despite all the budgetary
Mr Cameron said his health and defence teams were working together to
improve care for ex-servicemen and women.