HC Deb 27 July 1988 vol 138 cc399-400
10. Mr. John Marshall

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what assessment he has made of the impact on the Scottish economy of the recent order for three type 23 frigates from Yarrow Shipbuilders.

Mr. Lang

The order, together with existing work on frigates in the yard, will safeguard over 4,000 jobs at Yarrows well into the 1990s, with proportionate spin-off to the local and national economy. The Ministry of Defence estimates that the equivalent of 10,000 jobs, including those at Yarrows, will be sustained in the defence industry throughout the United Kingdom over the next four to five years.

Mr. Marshall

Does my hon. Friend agree that the news that the jobs have been safeguarded is yet another sympton of the buoyancy of the Glasgow economy, which has led to the Glasgow commercial property market being one of the most vibrant in the United Kingdom? Does he further agree that the order makes it highly likely that Yarrow will be at the forefront of those tendering for the fourth frigate in 1989?

Mr. Lang

My hon. Friend is right to welcome the order and the success that it brings to the Clyde. It was won in fair and open competition. It is a tribute to the work force and its skills and to the forward-looking investment programme of the management at Yarrow.

Mr. Ingram

Is the Minister aware of the excellent design assistance that has been given to Yarrow by the national engineering laboratory at East Kilbride? Will he share in the outrage that has been expressed throughout Scotland at the proposed sell-off of the NEL, and the secretive way in which it has been introduced?

Mr. Lang

I welcome the interest that has been shown in the national engineering laboratory by the number of applications that have been submitted. I believe that that will achieve a secure future for the laboratory.

Mrs. Margaret Ewing

Has the Minister spoken at any stage to his colleagues in the Ministry of Defence to ensure that further defence jobs of this nature come to Scotland? The defence procurement budget acts as a massive subsidy to the south-east and south-west of England. Would it not be more appropriate if more of the budget were spent in Scotland?

Mr. Lang

The hon. Lady is talking bigoted nonsense. Yarrow has seven Royal Navy ships on order or under construction. I wonder how many ships there would be in the Royal Navy of an independent Scotland.