The carrier programme as a whole is estimated to have sustained about 10,000 jobs across the UK, 4,000 of which are based in Scotland. Although we have made no specific assessment of the impact on the hon. Gentleman’s constituency, to the end of January the Ministry of Defence had spent about £2.3 billion on work billed to the programme by BAE Systems on the Clyde, and by Babcock at Rosyth. I was pleased to visit Rosyth last week to see the progress of the work on the Queen Elizabeth carrier, which is on track to be flooded up in July. The initial bow sections of the Prince of Wales carrier are dockside, ready for assembly to start later this year.
I am grateful for that answer. Is the Minister aware that Babcock commented last week that if Scotland votes yes it would be highly unlikely that my constituency dockyard would get further orders for maintenance work from the MOD? Is that why the Scottish National party has admitted that there would be significant job losses at Rosyth in the event of independence?
The hon. Gentleman will not be surprised to learn that I keep an eye on press cuttings relating to all defence procurement matters. The in-service support solution for the Queen Elizabeth class carriers is still in development and will not be decided until next year, but much support will be delivered at the base port and on deployment at sea. I think, however, that the hon. Gentleman was referring to depth maintenance and refit, and the security implications of that work being undertaken in a non-sovereign dock outside the UK would need to be carefully considered. Several dry docks in the UK are physically capable of accommodating such ships outside Scotland.