Labour: Navy chief should quit over Clyde threat

The issue of where the new Type 26 frigates are to be built dominated Scottish questions in the Commons. Picture: Contributed

The issue of where the new Type 26 frigates are to be built dominated Scottish questions in the Commons. Picture: Contributed

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THE head of the Royal Navy should be “made to walk the plank” and get the sack Labour MPs have demanded after he suggested that the next generation of frigates could be built in France and not on the Clyde.

The issue of where the new Type 26 frigates are to be built dominated Scottish questions in the Commons following The Scotsman’s revelations about Admiral Sir George Michael Zambellas’ threat to take the contract abroad.

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Admiral Zambellas said: “The acquisition process looks for a solution to give us what we need. The affordability question… depends on the best that industry can deliver.”

He added: “You’ll notice I haven’t necessarily said that that’s the British industry, as the decision has not been made on what the solution to the requirement will be.”

He has since been overruled by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon who has insisted that the promise made during the independence referendum to thousands of workers in the shipyards in Scotland would be met.

But furious MPs demanded that the head of the Royal Navy was removed.

Labour’s John Robertson, who represents the Clyde shipyards in Glasgow North West, said: “As the MP for the construction yards on the Clyde, where £200 million has been said will be invested to turn it into a state-of-the-art (facility), and where there’s thousands of jobs at risk.

“Is it not time the First Sea Lord was sacked for putting my constituents, the people who work in my yard, into such a position of worry?

‘Vote No and Scotland gets a £348m shipyard contract’

Meanwhile Scottish Affairs Committee chairman Ian Davidson, who represents Glasgow South West, asked: “Are admirals self employed? Whatever possessed the First Sea Lord to suggest that these ships would not be built on the Clyde?

“Has the admiral been keelhauled, walked the plank? Or would it be better if he was invited to meet the Scottish Affairs Select Committee?”

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael assured the pair that the decisions on where British warships are built rests with ministers.

Mr Carmichael said: “I cannot overemphasise the decisions on these contracts are made by ministers, the ministers are quite clear that our complex warships are only built in the United Kingdom.

“You should be able to give that assurance to your constituents.”

Replying to Mr Davidson, Mr Carmichael added: “I have a small suspicion having appeared before your committee on a number of occasions that, of the various options that you outline there, the last one is actually one of the least attractive.”

SNP MP Eilidh Whiteford also asked when the Commercial Principle Agreement with defence contractor BAe would be made public.

A decision not to publish it has added to concerns about guaranteed work for the Clyde.

But Mr Carmichael insisted that the work would be carried out at the Govan and Scotstoun yards.

Labour’s shadow defence minister and West Dumbartonshire MP Gemma Doyle also raised concerns in the “slippage” in work on the frigates because of the protracted contract negotiations.

But Mr Carmichael said that before it was signed “there needs to be commercial rigour” in the contract.

SEE ALSO:

Scottish independence: Country would lose warship contracts

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