Should the Royal Navy order ships from Scottish yards?

HMS Dauntless HMS Dauntless is launched from the Govan shipyard on the Clyde in 2007

Cabinet Minister David Willetts has joined the debate about whether the Royal Navy should place orders with Scottish shipyards whilst their future in the UK is under discussion.

The Liberal Democrat leader of Portsmouth Council has called for a ban on new orders being given to Glasgow shipyards until after a referendum on independence.

Gerald Vernon-Jackson said it would be "really stupid" to award contracts for British ships that might be built outside Britain.

Portsmouth is currently co-operating with Scottish yards to produce new aircraft carriers, but use of the English yard is under review by defence company BAE Systems.

Devolution debate

Labour has criticised the decision to build new Fleet auxiliary tankers in South Korea.

Their Defence spokesman Jim Murphy backed the Portsmouth call, saying if an independence vote was successful "Scotland would be a foreign country to the Royal Navy".

Start Quote

David Willetts

This is a very dangerous way to approach the referendum - we don't want English vs Scots, we mustn't start playing one off against another”

End Quote David Willetts MP (Cons) Havant

But David Willetts, who is Conservative MP for Havant, and the cabinet minister for Universities and Science, said that was the wrong way to approach the devolution debate.

On the Sunday Politics he told me "this is a very dangerous way to approach the referendum. We don't want English vs Scots, we mustn't start playing one off against another."

Mike Hancock, the Lib Dem MP for Portsmouth South agreed that comparisons were unhelpful, but argued it was difficult to make decisions about shipbuilding contracts with the "unknown factor" of the referendum.

For the SNP Stewart Maxwell has attacked the loss of 5,000 jobs at yards on the Clyde, saying it was the fault of politicians based in London.

"Clyde Yards win orders because of the excellence of workers," he said.

"The idea that you should stop them bidding for orders is ludicrous.

"This is just frightening ship building workers into voting no in case they lose their jobs."

But Labour's Jim Murphy, also from Scotland, said: "The Royal Navy has never built a warship outside the UK. We need this conversation before the referendum; the SNP has not got an answer."

Peter Henley Article written by Peter Henley Peter Henley Political editor, South of England

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  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    he wouldnt of made this decidion without a lot of input from the MOD. The fact that the MOD are looking at placing buisness with competative companies rather than protecting jobs at inefficent companies can only be a good thing

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    RobHood78. So first you say BAE aren't English. They are registered in England and Wales!!. They also have a LOT more sites than Barrow and Portsmouth (check their website) Then you go on to say IF they are English (not so sure now are you?), then close down and move to tyneside. Hmmm, good plan, with just one flaw. BAE don't own any yards in Tyneside. Seriously, you should run to be an MP

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    If they are an English company, shouldn't be a problem closing down the clyde business and moving it to tyneside. When are we going to get politicains that stand up for the English taxpayer rather than this 'british' pipedream they keep clinging to. independence, good for scotland, even better for england. VOTE YES (Alex Fergusson will need a passport/work visa!!!)

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    BAe systems isn't English. It builds subs in cumbria and surface ships on the clyde (with bits in pompey). Propping up jobs in Scotland isn't my definition of independence. The scots are going to be independent, if not now then in 30 yrs time when the next generation gets agitated. By boycotting scottish products they can truly be 'independent' and not blame us when it goes wrong

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    @20 RobHood78: "They can bid if they want, but they won't get contracts." Seems to be said with a lot of certainty. Who can bid and not win, BAE Systems? They are an ENGLISH company! So, a minority politician has rattled his gums, and "They" want to keep "their" oil? Who is "they"?? I have not heard that the people north of the border even want to split and you are getting yourself upset.


Comments 5 of 25



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