There was “zero” Scottish steel in the new Forth crossing, David Cameron told an SNP MP who accused him yesterday of viewing Scottish jobs as “expendable”.
The Prime Minister said the Scottish and UK governments “should work together” on issues such as procurement, but went on to assert the new bridge spanning the Firth of Forth contained “absolutely nothing” when it came to Scottish steel.
His comments came after SNP MP Marion Fellows argued the Conservative government “did next to nothing to save the Scottish steel industry” and was “breaking” promises to protect the Scottish shipbuilding industry.
Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons, she said: “The Prime Minister and his Government did next to nothing to save the Scottish steel industry, it was left to the Scottish Government to do that.
“Now the UK Government is breaking the promises made by both Tories and Labour to protect the Scottish shipbuilding industry. Why does the Prime Minister think that Scottish jobs are so expendable?”
Mr Cameron responded: “Frankly, the Scottish Government and the UK Government should work together. And one of the things we should work together on is procurement.
“It is worth asking how much Scottish steel was in the Forth Road Bridge – zero, none, absolutely nothing.
“What a contrast with the warships that we’re building, that of course we wouldn’t be building if we had an independent Scotland. So we back the steel industry with actions as well as words.”
But Gordon MP and former First Minister Alex Salmond raised a point of order to correct the Prime Minister.
Mr Salmond said: “Actually, 45 per cent of the total orders of £540 million were placed with Scottish companies.
“I know that the Prime Minister would want to correct the misleading impression there was no Scottish steel in the contract by acknowledging that steel from the Dalzell plate mill was in the girders at either end of the bridge.”
Mr Salmond added: “I fully understand that the Prime Minister would want to acknowledge that the reason there was no Scottish bidder for the main sub contract was the closure of the Ravenscraig steel mill by a previous Tory Government in the 1990s removing our capacity to supply such steel.”
The Scotsman reported in 2012 that no Scottish firms had put themselves forward for the main sub contract because, according to industry experts, Scotland ‘no longer had the capacity to produce the amount of steel required’.
The new bridge, set to be opened in December, will comprise 24,500 tonnes of steel from Shanghai, 8,500 tonnes from Seville as well as 4,200 tonnes from Gdansk in Poland.