A SENIOR Glasgow shipyard shop steward has blasted the UK Government’s policy on building naval vessels as Defence Secretary Michael Fallon visited the Clyde.

Fallon was at BAE Systems’ yard at Scotstoun for the naming by his wife, Lady Wendy Fallon, of an offshore patrol vessel, HMS Medway, that was built there.

Fallon said no other industry has as much certainty as shipbuilding on the Clyde.

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But unions believed work on a new type 31e frigates should have come to Glasgow along with the eight type 26 ships and three offshore patrol vessels currently under construction there. The Government has now said work on the new type 31e ship would be opened to bids.

As a result Unite has said it is “not sure” it could trust government promises on future orders, and yesterday Duncan McPhee the Unite officer at BAE Systems on the Clyde said the idea of competition between UK yards for Navy contracts was dangerous.

“The national shipbuilding strategy has changed,” he said.

“This work should have been concentrated in Glasgow. It should have been 13 frigates.

“Now it is down to eight. The government is trying to introduce a failed policy for complex naval ships, which is to have open competition within a country.

“None of our peer countries do that – France, Italy, Spain, Germany, certainly the US. They have what is called a national champion to provide complex naval ships.

“We had this failed policy in the past. If we go back to the 1980s, we had internal competition where shipyards went bust taking on contracts that they couldn’t deliver.”

Fallon said he has “kept faith” with the Clyde, which has 20 years of guaranteed work under the type 26 programme: “No other industry in Britain has as much certainty as those who work in shipbuilding."

“There’s 20 years of work guaranteed for the Clyde now and BAE Systems are teaming up with Cammell Laird to bid for the type 31 as well."

The Defence Secretary added: “It will be a powerful bid combining the skills and expertise here with Cammell Laird but there will be other bidders as well, and other yards, but I expect a very strong bid from BAE-Cammel Laird and that means the skills here on the Clyde will be re-employed again.”