Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest East): May I express my personal sadness at the loss of Paul Goggins, with whom I worked closely on the Intelligence and Security Committee over the past three years? He was a patriotic humanitarian who reflected the greatest credit on the Labour Party and on Parliament.
May we have a statement from a Defence Minister on the slow progress of the sale of the freehold of Marchwood Military Port in my constituency for not very much money and possibly to a company, Associated British Ports, that poses a threat to the New Forest with its burgeoning plans to build a container port on the edge of that precious area?
[The Leader of the House of Commons (Andrew Lansley): My hon. Friend will recall that a commitment was made in the Strategic Defence and Security Review to sell Marchwood Sea Mounting Centre during the current spending review period. The intention is to grant a long-term concession that will include the sale of a lease for the port and the delivery of sea mounting services. That will ensure that the military requirement can still be met, while allowing greater economic and commercial benefit to be realised from the site.
A concession will be granted only if the Ministry of Defence is satisfied that it represents good value for money. On timing, a prior information notice was published on 29 November last year to initiate a market engagement process. Twenty-five parties have shown an interest in participating, although clearly we cannot identify who they are. The intention is to begin the formal sale process in the spring of this year.]