Political Correspondent

CLYDE shipyard workers should be given a boost by the UK Government with a pledge on future contracts, a Glasgow MSP has said.

Paul Sweeney, Glasgow North East Labour MP, wants to see all naval support ships built in the UK with the Clyde yards in pole position to land the contracts.

The UK’s Shipbuilding Strategy commits to all complex warships being built in the UK but auxiliary vessels can be built elsewhere and are open to international competition.

Mr Sweeney, a former BAE employee in the Govan and Scotstoun yards, is seeking a debate in the House of Commons on the strategy in the new year.

He said the UK Government will benefit from the expertise of the Clyde workforce and national security enhanced by keeping design and manufacture of all ships in the UK.

Mr Sweeney said: “The Tory Government is undermining confidence in our defence industry, with the new National Shipbuilding Strategy failing to commit to build these vital ships in the UK, as jobs and capacity across all British yards cannot be sustained by the Type 26 and Type 31 frigates alone.”

The Government has been criticised for downgrading its promise to build 13 Type 26 Frigates made before the 2014 independence referendum.

Only eight will be build and the promise that five smaller Type 31 ships would be built on the Clyde has now been changed with yards across the UK asked to bid for the work.

BAE , which owns the Clyde yards has entered into a pact with Cammell Laird on Merseyside to bid for the work, with manufacturing taking place in the English yard.

Mr Sweeney, Labour’s Shadow Scotland Office Minister, said: “The defence shipbuilding industry supports thousands of skilled jobs in the Glasgow area and at Rosyth, yet the Tories seem more interested in a quick saving than they are in actively supporting that world-leading sector.

“They are already planning to sell off the huge Goliath crane used to assemble the aircraft carriers at Rosyth which could readily be used to build the new RFA vessels and secure jobs there for decades to come.

“We should not expect foreign powers to support our defence industries if we are not willing to support them ourselves.”