Clyde-built is a charter mark of quality

HAVING watched the Type 45 destroyers taking shape for years in BAE's Govan shipyard from my flat window, I could see at first hand the skills of those who produce ships for the Royal Navy.

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Govan and Scotstoun, the other yard in Glasgow, make a massive contribution to the economy and, similarly, both have benefited enormously from being part of the UK.

However, they now face an uncertain future, with work on the Government's two new aircraft carriers coming to an end soon.

At stake, are thousands of highly skilled jobs, whose loss would leave a huge gap in the Scottish manufacturing sector and wider economy.

We have to do everything possible to save these posts and last week I had a private meeting with the Defence Procurement Minister, Philip Dunne, to make him fully aware of the tremendous skills and professionalism we have on the Clyde.

While BAE Systems is a private company, it is regularly engaged to build warships for the Royal Navy.

So, it was heartening to hear the minister understands what great assets Govan and Scotstoun are to the UK.

He also appreciates the need to time contracts properly to ensure there is a steady stream of work for the yards.

Any system of feast-or-famine sees large numbers of workers released then re-hired, running the risk of losing valuable shipbuilding skills forever.

As ever, the workers are ready to dig in to ensure the yards survive yet another review, led by the determined union convener Jamie Webster, who is quietly confident the Glasgow yards will stay open.

He has rightly asked for the decision to be made public as soon as possible, and ideally before Christmas to remove the uncertainty workers are feeling.

We must remember, however, that the longer-term survival of the Glasgow yards would be less secure if Scotland separates from the rest of the UK.

In 2016, the Royal Navy is due to commission new frigates, but as the UK Government does not build warships in foreign countries, an independent Scotland would be less likely to win such lucrative contracts.

However, I am very hopeful the future of both yards can be secured and we will continue to see Royal Navy ships built on the Clyde for decades to come.

Clyde-built is a charter mark of quality – I want Royal Navy ships to be Clyde-built long into the future.

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