Scotland business

Warships will be built on Clyde says defence secretary

HMS Queen Elizabeth at Rosyth Dockyard Image copyright Crown copyright
Image caption Mr Fallon made his comments at Rosyth Dockyard, where Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers are being built

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has confirmed that the UK's new warships will be built on the Clyde, after fears the contract could go abroad.

Mr Fallon said there should be "no confusion" over where the work on the Type 26 frigates will be carried out.

The commitment followed controversial remarks by the head of the Royal Navy.

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas suggested last month that the £4bn contract for the ships could be awarded outside the UK.

Defence contracts were a key issue in the run-up to September's independence referendum, with pro-Union politicians claiming Scotland's shipbuilding industry would automatically be precluded from MoD deals in future if it left the UK.

The SNP seized on the First Sea Lord's comments to claim voters in the referendum had been betrayed.

Mr Fallon denied that was the case on a visit to see progress on the building of the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers at Rosyth Dockyard in Fife.

Image copyright Ministry of Defence
Image caption Mr Fallon visited Rosyth Dockyard in Fife

He said: "British warships are built in British yards. This aircraft carrier has been built across six British yards in England and in Scotland.

"So far as the T-26 ships are concerned, it has always been envisaged that they will be built on the Clyde and I can confirm that today.

"It's a very complex new warship that's under design at the moment. We're obviously working towards announcing some of the long-lead items I hope early next year.

"We're not quite ready yet to announce it, but they are going to be built on the Clyde."

Mr Fallon also said construction work on HMS Queen Elizabeth and a second carrier remained on schedule.

He added: "This has been a huge investment in jobs in Scotland, not just at Rosyth but on the Clyde, where some of the bigger blocks were built, and that investment will continue."

'Good news'

John Robertson, Labour MP for Glasgow North West which includes the Scotstoun shipyard on the Clyde, said: "This is good news for the communities I represent.

"Since the First Sea Lord's comments in Defence News, workers on the Clyde have been living with the uncertainty that their jobs might not be there.

"The announcement today can draw a line under that speculation, and allow the thousands of workers and their families to breathe a sigh of relief that their jobs are secure."

SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson said: "These reassurances are welcome - but the ultimate assurance is a signed, published contract.

"It was always abundantly clear that the Clyde was where these ships should be built thanks to the unparalleled track record of our shipyards and the skills of the workforce.

"That Westminster even considered building these ships anywhere other than the Clyde was a shocking breach of trust after a clear promise was made to the people of Scotland during the referendum campaign."

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