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Defence Industry: Scotland

Volume 650: debated on Monday 26 November 2018

The Ministry of Defence spent nearly £1.6 billion with businesses in Scotland in 2016-17, supporting 10,500 jobs. I am personally delighted to see work progressing on the Type 26 on the Clyde, on the aircraft carriers at Rosyth and, of course, on the preparations for the new Dreadnought-class submarines at Faslane.

Scotland is one part of the UK that could benefit from the contract for the fleet solid support ships being awarded to a UK bidder. Research by the GMB union has found that, if the fleet solid support contract were placed with UK shipyards, it could create and secure up to 6,500 vital jobs—as has just been mentioned, the aircraft carriers at Rosyth are nearing completion. Is the Minister comfortable with the fact that his Department is following a plan that could undermine the creation of so many much-needed jobs like those at Rosyth?

As I have said on many occasions, the fleet solid support ships are not classed as warships. There is no compelling national security reason to consider UK shipbuilding capacity as part of that procurement, but we are working very closely with industry, because we want it to become very competitive so that it not only attempts to win those contracts but is more successful with other contracts from around the world.

The SNP continues to sow uncertainty and create business risk by threatening a second independence referendum in Scotland. Will the Minister confirm to the House that such talk will not deter the Ministry of Defence from placing orders with Scottish companies?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. In the short time I have been in this role, I have spent a considerable amount of time in Scotland. I have been pleased to see the extent of the work and the fantastic achievement of the defence industry there, and long will that continue as far as we are concerned and are in charge of the MOD.