ALL SCOTTISH businesses that rely on Westminster defence spending face a more uncertain future under independence, MPs were told yesterday.
Defence equipment minister Philip Dunne has reiterated government warnings about the Type-26 contract, which is expected to go to the Clyde, insisting there was no intention to build warships outside the UK.
He also warned the Commons Scottish affairs committee the nation would lose out on “cutting-edge” research contracts in the event of a split.
Mr Dunne said: “I think what we can say is the future would be more uncertain for all those businesses in Scotland which rely upon UK MoD spend because we cannot be assured that the security considerations wouldn’t lead to some of those decisions to place work in Scotland … would be less certain.”
Mr Dunne told MPs that where the work on the contract for the 13 Type-26 warships was placed was a “matter for the company”.
But he warned: “We have never placed an order for a warship, other than in times of world wars, outside the United Kingdom.
“It is not our intent to do so with the Type-26.”
He added: “In the event that the decision were to take place after the creation of an independent Scotland, we would be in a very different environment to that which we are today and we would clearly have a strong view about that.”
Mr Dunne said it was “unlikely” the contract would still be open in the gap between a referendum and independence, but refused to say whether a clause to reverse a deal if separation was backed would be included.
He told MPs all existing MoD contracts, as well as those in the pipeline, would be reviewed if separation went ahead.
“In some cases that might involve withdrawing the contract, which would have some cost implications for MoD, and in some we may conclude that it is acceptable for the contract to continue until termination.”
Mr Dunne said all bilateral and multinational relationships with other governments would need to be renegotiated.
He added: “It is a reasonable assumption to make that in the event of Scottish independence, it would be less likely that cutting-edge research projects would be placed, where we feel that there is a particular security dimension, outside of the UK.”
SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson dismissed the minister’s claims as “scaremongering” as he seized on evidence to the committee from Vice- Admiral Andrew Mathews, whom he said had confirmed the UK Government would retain the option to continue the construction of navy vessels on the Clyde after independence.
Mr Robertson said: “These comments have rightly undermined some of the wilder scaremongering that anti-independence politicians – including those on the Scottish affairs committee – have engaged in.
“The fact of the matter is that the skills and expertise available on the Clyde means that the yards there would continue to win and complete contracts in an independent Scotland.”