COMMONS

Separation will shut Scottish shipyards, says Scottish Affairs Committee

20 January 2013

In a report published today, Sunday 20 January 2013, the Commons Scottish Affairs Committee warns that the shipbuilding industry and its employees face a choice between two starkly different futures at the referendum on Separation.

The Committee says that the outcome for the main shipyards in Scotland on the Clyde and at Rosyth will be completely different depending on whether Scotland is still a part of the UK or not after the referendum.

Within the UK

  • The Clyde Shipyards at Govan and Scotstoun will become the main British centre of excellence for naval surface ships, with the order for the complete run of Type-26 vessels, plus any export work, guaranteeing its future well into the next decade. The Clyde yards will then be the sole supplier of complex naval ships to the Royal Navy and will have both security and prosperity by remaining within the United Kingdom.
  • The shipyard at Rosyth will get carrier refit work over 50 years.

Outside the UK

  • There will be no UK naval build, and repair work for any separate Scottish Navy has been promised to Faslane by the Scottish Government, to fill part of the hole which will be left by the departure of the entire Royal Navy submarine fleet and vessels presently stationed there.
  • The Clyde shipyards will not be eligible for UK-restricted orders and will have little prospect of winning export work. The needs of any Scottish Navy will be insufficient to maintain capacity and any attempts to switch into a short run of submarine building would be prohibitively expensive.

The Committee says a further great difficulty is caused by the delay in holding the Referendum. The Committee believes the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will not place an order for the type-26 new Royal Navy frigates until the constitutional position is clear. However, if the referendum is delayed in the meantime the shipyards will run out of work, and may therefore also lose capacity to fulfil the contracts they will be awarded if Scotland stays in the UK.

Given the risks posed by the uncertainty over Scotland’s future, and the threat to the Clyde and Rosyth in a Separate Scotland, the Committee says the Scottish Government now must clarify exactly what alternatives it intends to put in place to attempt to safeguard the jobs of the thousands of workers involved in this industry and these local economies.

Ian Davidson MP Chair of the Committee said;

"The choice faced by the shipyards and shipbuilders in Scotland is stark and clear. Stay in the UK and Scottish shipyards have a secure source of work for decades to come; the Clyde will become the British centre of excellence for naval surface ships and secure the entire contract for the ground-breaking new Type-26 ships.
Leave the UK, and the Clyde will not be eligible for UK-restricted orders and will have little prospect of winning export work. The needs of any Scottish Navy will be insufficient to maintain capacity and any attempts to switch into a short run of submarine building will be horrendously expensive. There will be no UK naval work and work for any new separate Scottish Navy – whatever that might consist of -  has been promised to Faslane.
In short: leave the UK, and Scottish shipyards are doomed.
Even before that choice is made, the SNP's attempt to gain political advantage by delaying the referendum means the timelines are getting out of sync with the MoD’s decision about work on the new type-26 Royal Navy frigates. They will not make this decision until it is clear whether they would be awarding a key defence contract to a foreign country. The Clyde yards will run out of work while the Scottish Government procrastinates.
Delaying the referendum until after the anniversary of Bannockburn may look like good politics, but it is bad economics and it places thousands of jobs in jeopardy."

Further information

Image: MoD

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