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Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 7th November 2013.

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Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

With the greatest of respect to Johann Lamont, let me say that John Swinney raised the issue of diversification with BAE Systems yesterday when he spoke to the company. I recall a joint meeting that John Swinney and I had with the trade unions on the Clyde in which diversification was one of the key issues that we discussed. We are not responsible for the running of the shipyards at the moment.

The whole point that I am making is that we need to build an alternative for our shipyards—with naval procurement as a part—and look at what we can do to boost exports and to diversify. The point that I am making, which Johann Lamont does not seem able to rebut in any way, is that there are examples out there of other countries, similar to Scotland, that do that very well.

In the spirit of consensus, I say to Johann Lamont that we would be delighted to work with her and anyone else across the chamber to start to look at that different future for our shipyards.

I also say this—and this point is true regardless of the outcome of next year’s vote. Even with the type 26 order, we are seeing a downsizing of the shipbuilding industry, and in a few years’ time we will be asking ourselves what comes next, because there is nothing in the MOD locker after the type 26 frigates are built. That is a challenge for us all: whether or not Scotland is independent, if we want the future of our shipyards to be secured we must work to find a solution.

On the point about defence jobs in general, Johann Lamont should really look at some of the figures and the evidence. Defence jobs are not being protected in the UK. We are seeing a disproportionate loss in defence jobs and facilities—our shipbuilding industry is being downsized before our very eyes. That is the reality of the UK. The threat to defence jobs in Scotland is not independence but Westminster, and we see that day and daily.