UK Defence Secretary Des Browne's House of Commons Announcement
(Source: UK Ministry of Defence; issued Jan. 17, 2007)
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Metrix, a joint venture between QinetiQ and Land Securities Trillium, has been appointed preferred bidder on Package One and provisional preferred bidder on Package Two under the Government's Defence Training Rationalisation (DTR) programme.
QinetiQ’s selection has been roundly criticized as it is 19%-owned by MoD, and several MPs have said they would ask the Auditor-General to investigate.)

This is the full text of UK Defence Secretary Des Browne's House of Commons announcement:

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement about the Defence Training Review Rationalisation Programme. Before I do so, I am sure that the whole House will join me in extending their condolences to the friends and family of Marine Thomas Curry, Lance Corporal Mathew Ford and Kingsman Alexander Green who were killed in operations in Afghanistan and Iraq over the weekend and earlier this week.

Mr Speaker, in November 2004 the MOD issued Invitations to Negotiate for two contractual packages under the Defence Training Review Rationalisation Programme. The programme is a large and complex Public Private Partnership project seeking to transform the way we deliver six types of specialist training on a Defence wide basis to support better the future needs of the Armed Forces.

All bidders have put in strong bids. I am grateful to honourable members on all sides of the House, who have expressed such strong support for relevant bids. I can now report that, following a detailed evaluation process, the bids from the Metrix Consortium have been judged to offer the best technical and prospective value for money solutions to the DTR requirement for both Packages 1 and 2. As a result we are appointing Metrix as Preferred Bidder for Package 1 and Provisional Preferred Bidder for Package 2. Metrix have won each package independently and separately and we now plan to take forward negotiations with the consortium.

On 18 December, the MC3 consortium submitted an unsolicited last minute alternative proposal for Package 1. This proposal was considered, but was quickly discounted as failing to meet the requirements of the Invitation to Negotiate. As an unsolicited proposal it was also outside the rules of the competition.

I must emphasise that identifying the best training solution for Defence has been the primary consideration. The evaluation has involved some 200 subject matter experts. The training element was overseen by Professor Molyneux, an independent expert in modern training technology and e-learning.

For Package 1 we are confident that we have a broadly affordable solution that will deliver a modern and efficient Aeronautical Engineering, Electro-mechanical Engineering and Communications and Information Systems training. Currently, this is delivered at 9 locations involving some 3,500 military and civilian staff providing instruction to 6,500 Defence trainees at any one time. Over a 5 year transition period starting in late 2008, Metrix propose to rationalise the estate, initially onto two major sites, St Athan and HMS Sultan. Marine Engineering training will remain at HMS Sultan until 2017 when that also will relocate to St Athan. The St Athan site will be largely a new build facility.

A small enclave will, however, be retained at Bordon for vehicle recovery training and some communications training will continue to be delivered at HMS Collingwood. Overall this will have a varying impact across 9 sites: Arborfield, Bordon, Blandford, HMS Collingwood, Cosford, RAF Cranwell, RAF Digby, HMS Sultan and St Athan.

Package 2 is more complex. It aims to provide training for Logistics and Personnel Administration, Police and Guarding, Security, Languages Intelligence and Photography. Currently, this is delivered at 18 locations across the United Kingdom, involving some 2,900 military and civilian staff, and 4,500 trainees.

While the evaluation process identified Metrix as a clear winner for Package 2, we have more work to do to resolve the outstanding issues to address a significant affordability gap and to explore possible synergies with Package 1 which should deliver improved value for money across the Programme as a whole. Until we have resolved these issues with the Bidder we cannot confirm the final approach that the MoD will take, including whether all, or part of, Package 2 goes forward. However, it is only right that we inform the losing bidder that they have been unsuccessful.

Starting in late 2008, the current METRIX proposals would again see rationalisation onto St Athan over a 5 year period. However, all training currently undertaken at Leconfield, Wethersfield and a number of smaller federated units would remain at these sites. As would the majority of training currently delivered at Chicksands.

Together these proposals will embrace the very best training methods available today, in an environment designed for military learning. Full advantage will be taken of the latest technology for simulators and distributed learning solutions. The proposals will deliver top grade single living accommodation for all ranks, with single en-suite rooms for many. New recreational and sports facilities will enhance the quality of life for our trainees, staff and their families.

Mr Speaker, I take very seriously the implications of this change programme for our people. The impact is likely to be significant for those civilian staff required to transfer to the new Partner. They will, of course, be protected in full accordance with the TUPE regulations. However, some redundancies following transfer cannot, be ruled out. Should this be the case, this will be taken forward sensitively and in full consultation with Trades Unions and staff.

I do not underestimate how disappointed some members and their constituents will be where we are seeking to withdraw training establishments. This will be most keenly felt in the West Midlands at Cosford and in North Dorset at Blandford. Whilst not wishing to pre-empt any specific decisions, I am pleased to say that there are no plans to close either site. The current training at each would continue until 2011 and the Department is exploring a number of proposals for the potential future Defence use of both Cosford and Blandford. These will be announced subject to the normal review and approvals processes. In each case a military presence is expected to remain at these sites in the future. In this case Metrix propose building at Cosford a Learning Resource Centre, developing a National Training Research and Development Support Centre and with the Department examine how the Programme might support the establishment of the National Manufacturing Skills Academy.

Mr Speaker, it has been suggested that MOD has a conflict of interest by virtue of its minority shareholding in QinetiQ. This was recognised at the outset. It is not unusual for QinetiQ to be a member of a consortium bidding for MOD work, or a potential beneficiary as a subcontractor. We have therefore put in place stringent steps to separate the roles of customer and owner in relation to QinetiQ. These were made plain in the prospectus to investors when QinetiQ was floated on the stock market last year and a copy was placed at the time in the House Library. I am content that that the DTR evaluation process did not take improper account of the Qinetiq shareholding.

Mr Speaker, the Under Secretary of State and I have also written today to all Right Honourable and Honourable Members whose constituencies are affected by this announcement, with details of the changes as set out in the winning Bidders’ current proposals. As the way forward becomes clearer I will update the House. I have also made available a number of key documents, including the Invitations to Negotiate and Professor Molyneux’ letter validating the evaluation process, in the Library of the House.

Mr Speaker, I conclude by emphasising again that the bids from Metrix Consortium offered the best technical and value for money solutions to meet the future needs of Defence specialist training.

As I stated earlier, we now plan to take forward negotiations over the coming months with the Metrix Consortium. This remains an extremely complex PPP programme and a number of significant issues remain to be resolved, particularly over the proposals for Package 2. I do not plan to make any further announcements until this work has been completed.


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