Government minister set to visit Portsmouth shipyard

Philip Dunne
Philip Dunne

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DEFENCE minister Philip Dunne is due to meet unions at Portsmouth’s shipyard to talk about its future.

He will visit the city in the next few days and hear about work being done to attract new investment.

It comes after Prime Minister David Cameron said in reply to an open letter signed by city leaders and The News that ‘every effort’ would be made to protect the yard.

That followed the announcement made by BAE Systems last year that it will move its shipbuilding duties out of the city to the Clyde, in Scotland, putting 940 jobs at risk.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt met with Mr Dunne at the headquarters of the Ministry of Defence yesterday to brief him on the ‘four key players’ interested in taking up space at the yard.

Talking about the purpose of Mr Dunne’s visit, Ms Mordaunt said: ‘It’s about getting a plan of action out of any meeting that is held.

‘From the minister’s point of view, it’s about being informed and briefed on what’s happening.

‘But we need to ensure that he knows what needs to be done in the yard in order to keep the workforce together.

‘To have a sustainable order book, we need to ensure we do those things.’

Ms Mordaunt said she expects Michael Fallon, the new minister for Portsmouth, to also visit soon.

John Ferrett, negotiations officer for The Prospect Union, welcomed the news, since he was previously told by Mr Dunne in December that a ministerial visit wouldn’t be beneficial.

As reported, his reason was the MoD had been assured by BAE Systems that ‘every effort’ would be made to redeploy affected workers and keep compulsory redundancies to a minimum.

Mr Ferrett said: ‘Clearly, we welcome that and we would like to meet the defence secretary and Mr Cameron as well, but we are prepared to meet with anyone who is willing to talk about the future of shipbuilding.

‘Philip Dunne will be a good starting point.’