Claims by a Scottish Labour MP that the shipyards on the Clyde are operating at full capacity have been rubbished by a leading trade union official.
Speaking on Good Morning Scotland, Scottish Labour MP Paul Sweeney insisted the cancellation of the bidding process for the Type 31e frigates by the UK government would have little impact on yards on the Clyde.
Listeners heard the MP say that Clydeside yards were already operating at full capacity. Sweeney, who represents Glasgow North, said the Clyde would be working to capacity until 2030 due to orders for the Type 26 frigates.
He said: “The Clyde will be at capacity, certainly the upper Clyde yards at Govan and Scotstoun will be at capacity throughout that period.
“The Type 31 programme was a new project which was going to be built at the same time as Type 26 and they still envisage doing that.”
Pressed that the Type 31e vessels will not necessarily be built on the Clyde, the MP added: “No that’s correct because the Clyde would be at capacity.”
Sweeney, in a tweet, also claimed that the Type 31e contract suspension would have “no bearing” on shipbuilding on the Clyde.
The Scottish Labour MP’s ‘capacity’ claim was immediately rubbished by GMB official Gary Smith. Asked on Radio Scotland to respond, the trade union chief said: “It’s not true that the Clyde yards are operating to capacity,”
The trade union official confirmed that the Port Glasgow based Ferguson shipyard was part of one of the bids for the Type 31 work.
Smith added: “We’re losing jobs at Rosyth at the moment, we’re losing jobs at Scottish yards, Scottish yards that desperately need work.”
The issue of shipbuilding on the Clyde became a central plank of the pro-Union campaign during the 2014 Independence referendum. Both the Labour party and the then David Cameron led Tory government pledged to build thirteen Type 26 frigates on the Clyde.
The programme was to be underpinned by a new so-called ‘frigate factory’. The total cost of the programme was estimated to be in the region of four billion pounds.
However shortly after the Independence referendum returned a ‘No’ vote, the Type 26 order was cut from thirteen to eight. The shortfall was to be made up with a minimum of five Type 31e vessels.
On November 23rd 2015, after facing questions from SNP MP Angus Robertson, David Cameron promised not only a further five of the new type of frigates, but there would probably be more for the Clyde.
Cameron’s pledge was confirmed five months later during the 2016 Holyrood campaign by Ruth Davidson after fears were raised that the pledges might not be as cast-iron as people had been led to believe.
Despite Ruth Davidson having repeated the pledge on Reporting Scotlnd during the 2016 Holyrood election campaign, BBC Scotland has refused to confront the Scottish Conservative leader on the latest blow for Scottish shipbuilding.
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