Veterans Secretary responds to UK Government’s SDSR
Veterans Secretary Keith Brown is calling for clarity from the UK Government over future defence procurement on the Clyde.
The UK Government's Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) has today confirmed only eight of an expected thirteen new Type 26 Frigates are to be built on the Clyde – a 40 per cent reduction.
Mr Brown said:
"Scotland has been hit time and again by poor defence decisions which have left major capability gaps and this review raises new uncertainties. There is an urgent need for clarity from the UK Government on future naval orders in Scotland. While the order for eight is welcome, we are concerned about the cuts to the order – almost a 40 per cent reduction to that expected before the referendum. If a new class of ship will also be built on the Clyde, say so and say so now.
"This is a watered-down commitment on future orders on the Clyde and offers no firm confirmation on when and where any new vessels will be built.
"Scottish shipbuilders need to know the truth about future naval orders in Scotland and I am seeking a meeting with the Defence Secretary as a matter of urgency.
"The Scottish Government has consistently called for reintroduction of maritime reconnaissance capabilities and so news that nine Poseidon aircraft are to be based at RAF Lossiemouth is welcome. It is clear the decision taken in 2010 to scrap the Nimrod MRA4 at Kinloss was unwise, resulting in job losses and a serious gap in capability. The UK Government must learn lessons from this costly process, and engage with us fully to ensure that Scotland's interests are protected.
"Likewise at a time when our defences are tested, the UK Government must be prepared to re-examine their intention to renew nuclear weapons on the Clyde. The Trident successor is predicted to tie up a significant proportion of the MoD's procurement budget over the coming years with costs predicted to reach an obscene £167 billion. By the UK Government's own admission, this is "one of the largest government investment programmes, equivalent in scale to Crossrail or High Speed 2". This is a moral outrage and it runs contrary to the clear will of the Scottish Parliament, a majority of Scottish MPs, churches, trade unions and civil society in Scotland.
"Over the last decade, Scotland has been disproportionately affected by defence cuts, with decreasing numbers of personnel, betrayal of our historic regiments and neglect of our defence-dependent communities by the UK Government.
"Our ambition remains to see the decline reversed, and the Scottish Government has repeatedly called on the Strategic Defence and Security Review to improve Scotland's conventional defence footprint and to build up capabilities in Scotland, such as maritime reconnaissance and fighter squadrons.
"While there are measures to be welcomed in the SDSR the UK Government has a very poor record in delivering on defence in Scotland, indeed, given previous commitments which have never been delivered – such as investment in a new barracks at Kirknewton, or the promised uplift in personnel numbers – the UK Government must now engage meaningfully with the Scottish Government on the conduct and outcomes of this review."
The SDSR sets out the UK's defence priorities over the next five years. Together with the National Security Strategy, it reviews threats to the UK and the capabilities our military requires to respond. Decisions made in the SDSR will have a range of defence and security implications for Scotland, which in turn potentially impact on our communities and businesses across Scotland.