10 January 2003

Members of the Defence Committee will be visiting RAF Fylingdales on Monday 13 January.

As we announced on 18 December, we are returning to the issue of missile defence following the request from the US Government for an upgrade to the facilities at Fylingdales and the publication of the Ministry of Defence's discussion document on missile defence.

We intend our inquiries to be in two parts.  Firstly we will examine the US Government request for a Fylingdales upgrade, whether the UK Government should accede to it and what would be the implications if they did.  Subsequently we will look more broadly at missile defence issues including the potential security benefits of missile defence both for the UK itself and for forces deployed overseas, and to what extent the UK might benefit from the US programme in terms of industrial participation.

On Monday, however, we will be on a fact-finding visit whose purpose is to allow us to gain an improved understanding of the technical components of the upgrade of the facilities which has been requested by the US Government. We will follow it up with public evidence from the Secretary of State on 15 January.  This session will be at 3.00 pm in a Committee Room in the Houses of Parliament.

We have already invited written submissions and we have received a number from local people.  We would welcome further written submissions.  We recognise the concerns which they express and accordingly we intend to invite a number of local people and their representatives to appear in person so that they can formally place their views before the Committee.

On this occasion therefore our visit to Fylingdales will be private.  It will not include any press opportunities.