SNP Defence Spokesperson ‘’We need clarification on shipbuilding’’

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SNP Defence spokesperson Brendan O’Hara MP has written to Defence Secretary Michael Fallon following the meeting of the Defence Select Committee at Westminster this week.

During the hearings on shipbuilding on the Clyde – Admiral Lord West said the UK Government had effectively ‘run out of cash‘ and that was ‘dangerous’ for shipbuilding.

This follows continued promises from the UK Government that they will fulfil the obligations and promises they made to deliver in full the Type 26 programme of orders.

Brendan O’Hara MP commented :

‘’Admiral Lord West’s comments confirmed my worst fears. We are not getting the full story from the UK Government and this is a real cause for concern.

‘’In my letter I ask for clarification on a number of issues including whether or not the spending announced so far is the minimum necessary to ensure the continuance of the programme: whether other potential investments, such as a state-of-the-art ‘frigate factory’ described to me as a ‘game changer’ have been shelved, and why some £750 million in promised spending has failed to materialise.

‘’The Defence Secretary has to understand that the workforce – their families and the communities at the yards at Scotstoun and Govan have been promised so much over the years but much of it remains to be delivered. They have previously experienced a painful restructuring, and have felt that they have held up their end of the bargain.

‘’Mr Fallon has to agree that the least they can expect in return is for these promises to be upheld – and upheld in full and on time.’’
TEXT OF LETTER TO MICHAEL FALLON HERE :

You will no doubt be aware of the evidence that was presented to the Defence Select Committee on June 7th by a number of highly credible witnesses, including Lord West, Peter Roberts from the Royal United Services Institute and the Trades Unions representing the workers at BAE on the Clyde.

These witnesses were united in the opinion that because of pressures on the MoD budget, the ‘cutting steel’ for the Type 26 frigate programme was going to be considerably delayed: while there was no consensus on when that would be, it was worrying to note that one witness expressed his opinion that 2019 was most likely.

Can I urge you today to use your office to assuage the fears of the work force by confirming that there will be no slippage in the timetable agreed, so that cutting steel on the Type 26 programme will begin as soon as possible; that the vessels will be built in full on the Clyde; and that and that the Terms of Business Agreement between the MoD and BAE will be fully adhered to?

From the evidence the Committee heard today, and in other discussions I have had with the Unions at the Yards, I understand that the spending announced so far to date is the minimum necessary to ensure the continuance of the programme: other potential investments, such as a state-of-the-art ‘frigate factory’ described to me as a ‘game changer’ have been shelved, as some £750 million in promised spending has failed to materialise.

As you know, the promise of thirteen Type 26 frigates made in 2014 was broken almost immediately when the number of Type 26’s was reduced to just eight in last year’s SDSR.

At the time, the workforce were confident that any shortfall in this work would be made up by the General Purpose Frigate programme that the Prime Minister announced that same day.

What assurance can you give the Clyde workforce that their yards will continue to be the United Kingdom’s centre of excellence for building complex warships, and that these General Purpose Frigates will be built there?

The workforce at the yards at Scotstoun and Govan have been promised so much over the years but much of it remains to be delivered. They have previously experienced a painful restructuring, and have felt that they have held up their end of the bargain: I hope you will agree the least they can expect in return is for these promises to be upheld.

Yours sincerely,

Brendan O’Hara MP
SNP Defence Spokesperson

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