Cameron accused of misleading parliament over Scottish steel bridge claim

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has been accused of misleading parliament after claiming no Scottish steel was used in the construction of the Forth Replacement Crossing.

The Conservative leader was responding to a question from SNP MP Marion Fellows who had asked about the lack of UK Government support for Scottish shipbuilders and steelworkers.  Ms Fellows pointed out that the Scottish government had had to step in to save two steelmaking plants.

Pressed on his lack of support for the two sectors in Scotland, the PM said both governments needed to work together on procurement.

Taunting the SNP MP, Mr Cameron added: “And it is worth asking how much Scottish steel was in the Forth Road Bridge … zero … none … absolutely nothing.”

The Conservative leader claimed this was in contrast to “the warships that we’re building that we wouldn’t be building if we had an independent Scotland.”

However, Mr Cameron’s claim that no Scottish steel was used in the Forth Replacement Crossing was later challenged by former First Minister Alex Salmond.  Speaking in the House of Commons’ chamber, Mr Salmond pointed out that contrary to the Prime Minister’s claim, Scottish steel had indeed been used on the construction of the bridge.

The former leader of the SNP asked if it was possible to request the Prime Minister be invited to “rapidly correct any misleading impressions he inadvertently gives at Prime Minister’s Question Time?”

Mr Salmond explained that the procurement method used had led to “forty five per cent … of the total orders” were placed with Scottish based companies.

He added:

“I know the Prime Minister would want to correct the misleading impression there was no Scottish steel in the contract by acknowledging that steel from the Dalziel Plate was in the girders at either end of the bridge.

The former First Minister ended his point of order by reminding the Speaker that the reason there was no Scottish bidder for the main sub-contract was “the closure of the Ravenscraig Steel Mill by a previous Tory government.”

Mr Cameron’s targeting of the Forth Road Bridge was a clear attempt to move focus away from the shipbuilding controversy after fears of major job-losses were raised by trade union officials in Scotland.

Last week trade unions representing Clydeside workers accused the UK government of going back on promises made during the independence referendum to build Type 26 frigates in Scotland.  According to officials from the GMB trade union, promised investment has not materialised and owners BAE face having to lay off up to 900 workers.

Officials have also claimed that work originally promised to Clydeside is to be sub-contracted out and awarded to yards south of the border.

The recording below is GMB official Gary Smith.

 

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