I join Johann Lamont in expressing deep regret at yesterday’s announcement. She is absolutely correct that there was mounting speculation that Govan shipyard was under threat of closure, and there is an element of relief that that has turned out not to be the case. However, the loss of 800 jobs across the Clyde and Rosyth is a devastating blow for the shipbuilding industry and the communities that are affected. As she rightly says, we both know the shipyard and those who work in it very well. The Scottish Government’s thoughts are with all those in Govan, Scotstoun and Rosyth who are affected by the announcement.
The finance secretary yesterday had discussions with BAE Systems and the unions, and I understand that he briefed Johann Lamont this morning on the content of his discussions with the company. He and I will meet BAE Systems and the unions represented face to face tomorrow morning. Working with the company, the unions and the UK Government, the Scottish Government will do everything that we can to protect as many jobs as possible and to give as much support as we possibly can to those who are affected. Members across the chamber would expect no less of us.
I am sure that we will discuss the longer-term future of the shipyards in greater depth as question time develops. I believe that the Scottish shipbuilding industry does have, should have and must have a strong and secure future. Naval procurement is part of that future, but if we want to build the security and sustainability of our shipbuilding industry we must think beyond naval procurement. I look to Norway, which is similar in size to Scotland and has 42 shipyards that built 100 ships last year. I am not saying that it will be easy but, with political will and the consensus that I hope we can gather across the chamber, all of us should be determined to build that future for our shipyards and those who work in them.