MoD criticised for having sole shipyard plan

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PORTSMOUTH South MP Mike Hancock has criticised BAE Systems for only coming up with one recommendation for the future of shipbuilding.

The defence giant decided on the back of reviewing 43 potential ideas that closing down Portsmouth’s shipyard and moving its operations to the Clyde, in Scotland, was the only proposal that should be considered by the Ministry of Defence.

As previously reported, up to 1,000 jobs are now at risk following BAE Systems’ devastating announcement last month.

But Mr Hancock said it was totally “bizarre” the government never told the company to go away and come back with more plans.

‘I think it’s really bizarre and it’s wrong the government only chose to take one option from them – and it seemed like it was hiding behind BAE,’ he said.

‘If you were the customer and your provider comes to you and says, “by the way, we are only looking at this after coming up with 43 ideas,” you wouldn’t have any of it.

‘Moving shipbuilding to the Clyde may have made business sense, but was it the right decision for the government to take?

‘If the government was just always going to back BAE and if it was just about money, then Portsmouth didn’t have a chance.’

Philip Dunne, Minister for Defence Equipment – in response to a parliamentary question from Mr Hancock about the situation – said external advisors came up with some scenarios, but because it was a matter of “internal company business”, they were never formally submitted as proposals to the MoD.

BAE Systems insists it had lengthy discussions with the Ministry of Defence about all of its options but ultimately it had to come up with one plan that was best for business and made the most sense.

A BAE Systems spokeswoman said: ‘Having gone through the complex discussions and having assessed all the different options against the criteria, we made a recommendation to consolidate warship manufacturing in Glasgow.’