FRIGATE FACTORY IS TOTAL FANTASY; Defence Secretary blasted over Clydeside job claims.
Byline: TORCUIL CRICHTON Westminster Editor
DEFENCE Secretary Michael Fallon has been criticised for claiming there is a "frigate factory" on the Clyde years after contractors BAE abandoned the scheme. Fallon blundered yesterday as he announced plans to build five Type 31e warships in modules across the UK for final assembly at one yard.
Unions at the Govan and Scotstoun yards said all the work had been promised to them. They were also concerned that other defence supply ships out to international tender will endanger jobs at Rosyth in Fife.
BAE Systems said in 2014 that they planned a "frigate factory" on a single site but cancelled the idea the following year, instead investing PS100million in Govan and Scotstoun. Fallon yesterday told the House of Commons that eight "enormous" Type 26s, costing PS3.7billion, being built at the two yards, already represent a "frigate factory".
He also told Good Morning Scotland: "The Clyde are getting eight frigates, the anti-submarine frigates, without competition and that is 20 years of work for just one yard.
"The remaining five frigates in the programme we're opening up to competition. Govan can compete for that, so can Fergusons further down the Clyde. They could be built at Rosyth. Any of the yards in Britain will be free to compete."
Fallon was accused by the SNP of "betrayal". Stewart McDonald, the party's defence spokesman, added: "Will this Government actually see any of their promises through? Govan and Scotstoun yards were promised a world class frigate factory which he seems to think exists.
"How can he guarantee work for 20 years?" Fallon accused SNP MPs of "doing their best to turn sunshine into a grievance".
Trade unions were left disappointed by confirmation that Ministers will put tenders for Royal Fleet Auxiliary supply vessels out to international tender, raising fears the jobs will go abroad.
GMB national officer Ross Murdoch said: "Without the RFAs there would not be enough to sustain design teams and the number of potential apprenticeships."
PROMISES Fallon and, left, Scotstoun