Assurances demanded on defence spending as SNP reveal Scotland loses out

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SNP MP Angus Robertson has demanded assurances over the future UK defence spending as figures indicate that Scotland loses out compared to other areas of the UK.

Mr Robertson, the SNP’s Defence spokesperson, has urged the Secretary of State for Defence to take into account the decline in defence spending in Scotland over the last decade.


SNP MP Angus Robertson has demanded assurances over the future UK defence spending as figures indicate that Scotland loses out compared to other areas of the UK.

Mr Robertson, the SNP’s Defence spokesperson, has urged the Secretary of State for Defence to take into account the decline in defence spending in Scotland over the last decade.

The call comes as fears grow over the future of up to 10,000 jobs reliant on the carrier contracts on the Clyde and at Rosyth as the coalition Government undertake a Strategic Defence and Security Review.  Options for savings include the cancellation of one or both carrier contracts at the Scottish yards.

Speaking after an exchange in the House of Commons Mr Robertson said:

“The decade of decline in Scotland’s defence footprint must be addressed within the context of the current strategic review or the Coalition Government risks the destruction of remaining conventional forces, and causing irreparable damage to local communities across the country.

“Over the last decade, Scotland has been massively short-changed on its fair share of the defence spending and all the indications are that the SDSR could have further catastrophic consequences for the defence footprint in Scotland.

Mr Robertson drew attention to the fact that spending on defence was greater in London than in the whole of Scotland and that 10,000 jobs have already been lost as a result of the previous Labour administration’s cuts.

The SNP’s Defence spokesperson added:

“The MoD’s own figures show that £5.6bn less has been spent on defence in Scotland than has been contributed by taxpayers, and 10,000 defence jobs have been lost in Scotland since the last strategic review. We now know that more is spent on defence in the city of London than in the whole of Scotland.”

“The stakes could not be higher and the government must make a fair and balanced defence footprint across the UK a priority.”

Meanwhile
Labour’s Iain Gray has joined the Conservatives and Lib Dems and launched an attack on the SNP’s proposed submission to the UK Defence Secretary.  The SNP have drafted a document in anticipation of the UK’s Strategic Defence and Security Review that is also aimed at persuading the Conservative/Lib Dem UK coalition government not to scrap the building of the aircraft carriers on the Clyde and at Rosyth.

Mr Gray said the Scottish government’s submission was full of holes and was not persuasive.  Labour’s Holyrood leader argued that the Trident Nuclear base on the Clyde should have been mentioned and demanded that Unions be present at the meeting instigated by the First Minister.  Mr Gray was joined by the Conservatives who described the document as a “work in progress” whilst the Lib Dems said it had “major weaknesses”.

Iain Gray’s stance will lead to questions over Labour’s commitment to a united front in order to save Scottish jobs.  His calls for Union involvement were undermined by statements from the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions (CSEU) who have launched an astonishing attack on the SNP calling their case against the carrier cancellation “feeble” and suggesting that the SNP submission will make it more likely that the carriers contracts would be cancelled.

Mr Gray said: “The case made so far by the Scottish Government is not persuasive and full of holes. There is a long way to go and time is running out. There is no input from the unions and it does not address Scotland’s crucial role as part of Britain’s defence strategy.”

Mr Gray said the thousands of jobs at the Faslane nuclear submarine base on the Clyde were “not even mentioned, which undermines the credibility of the document”.

On the carrier contracts Lib Dem spokesman Jeremy Purvis said: “We are determined to put forward the strongest case for their retention.

“While it is regrettable the Scottish Government’s draft submission has major weaknesses, we will make it stronger.”

Tory leader Annabel Goldie said the meeting was constructive, and described the report as “a work in progress” and said that “the clock is ticking”. She added: “It will need maturity of attitude if a collective submission is to be made to the Ministry of Defence.”

In a bizarre outburst Hugh Scullion, general secretary of the CSEU, said the SNP Government’s submission “persuades no-one of the case for the Scottish defence industry or the military bases currently sited in Scotland, and weakens the case for the aircraft carriers to be completed in Scotland”.

However Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who is also the MSP for Govan, was more optimistic and confident that a united front and a strong case could be achieved.

Ms Sturgeon said: “It is encouraging that all of the political parties in Scotland are willing to work together in making the strong case for defence jobs and skills in Scotland.”

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