Tories accused of “sinking” British shipbuilding

The Scottish Tories have faced calls to back Scottish shipyards to level the playing field for bids for a £1bn contract to build new Fleet Solid Support Ships, required to service the UK’s £6.3bn Queen Elizabeth-class carriers.

Speaking at Scottish Questions, Labour’s Lesley Lard called on the Scottish Tories to back Labour's 'Build it in Britain' campaign by ensuring new shipbuilding contracts go to British shipyards.

The UK Government has said the contract will be awarded through an international competition. However some of the shipyards expected to bid such as those in South Korea will do so backed by extensive state support.

South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding conglomerate received a government bailout of over £2bn in 2017.

Labour said building the vessels in Britain would deliver a £285million benefit to the Exchequer through tax and National Insurance contributions, and claim that the tender could secure up to 6,500 jobs.

Laird said: "It was a Labour Secretary of State for Scotland who stood up for Scottish shipyards in 1999 and ensured that the contract for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary was given to the shipyards in Govan.

"If David Mundell and the 12 other Scottish Tory MPs who hold the balance of power in the Commons want to stand up for Scotland's shipbuilding industry, then they should back Labour's opposition day motion calling for the Fleet Solid Support Ships to be built in Britain.

"Sadly, it appears they are not the standard bearers for Scotland that Ruth Davidson hailed them as last June, they are merely lobby fodder for Theresa May's fatally wounded government.”

In a speech last year to the IPPR, Davidson had called for for Scotland to “become the shipbuilding capital of the world.”

The calls have been backed by the major shipbuilding Unions, with the GMB’s General Secretary Tim Roache commenting that awarding foreign shipyards the contract would be a “missed opportunity”.

“The Conservative government’s decision to offer up lucrative and sensitive contracts to build these three new ships to companies overseas is as ludicrous as it is reckless.” he said.

Shadow Scotland Minister Paul Sweeney commented: "After this week's resignations and reshuffles David Mundell is now the Secretary of State who has been in post the longest. But as the invisible man in the Cabinet that experience counts for nothing and Scotland is being sold short.”

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