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Minister slips up over Boulmer.

Blunder-prone Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon was forced to admit another slip up after telling MPs that the future of a Northumberland RAF station had not been decided.

Mr Hoon was quizzed about the future of RAF Boulmer by Berwick MP Alan Beith when the Government's five-year plan for defence was unveiled in the Commons.

The base creates 800 jobs and pounds 18m in salaries for the local economy and Mr Beith asked about its future during the Commons debate. In answer Mr Hoon told him: "That's a decision that hasn't been taken yet."

But after the debate his deputy Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram confirmed in a letter to Mr Beith that most of RAF Boulmer's operations will be transferred to RAF Scampton, in Lincolnshire, by 2012.

He added: "I know that my decision will be disappointing news for those who work at RAF Boulmer, but I am sure you will understand I must make the best decision for defence."

Parliamentary insiders are predicting that Mr Hoon, nicknamed "Buff" Hoon by Labour colleagues, because of past gaffes, will lose his job in a reshuffle tomorrow or early next week.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 22, 2004
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