The turnaround director of Ferguson Marine updated the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee on the delivery timetable and budget for vessels 801 and 802 on 30 September 2021. The cost to complete the vessels remains the same as was reported in the turnaround director’s December 2019 report to the Parliament—namely, between £110.3 million and £114.3 million.
The turnaround director, Tim Hair, said in his 30 September letter that Ferguson’s uses seven different data systems that do not talk to one another.
In other words, no one knows what anyone else is doing. Is it any wonder that the vessels are so late and so over budget?
Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd—CMAL—has just ordered a small, slow, second-hand ferry from Norway, the diesel-powered MV Utne, at an overall cost of £9 million. It was for sale at under £6 million. Will the cabinet secretary explain what the gap is for? Is it just for livery? Why are we going for gas-guzzling cast-offs and not for the same kind of eco-friendly ferries that the Norwegians are buying?
I confess to having a constituency interest as much as a Government interest in the vessel that has just been procured, because it frees up the MV Coruisk to go back to the service between Mallaig and Armadale for which it was designed, which has been met with great celebration in the communities of Sleat and Mallaig.
It is important that the Government looks at all options for ensuing that our lifeline vessels are secure and resilient. I am sure that the member joins me in that view. When it comes to the future of the fleet, we have committed £500 million over the next few years to ensure that we invest in ferry infrastructure right across the west coast.
As the cabinet secretary knows, vessel 802 is intended to serve Lochmaddy and Tarbert. However, there have been calls from the communities of North Uist and Harris for each area to have a dedicated vessel. What consideration is the Scottish Government giving to that question, which has been raised for some years?
.]—know how actively he represents his constituency on those matters.
Consideration of vessel replacement and deployment options is an on-going process. My colleague Graeme Dey was pleased to meet members of the North Uist and Harris communities during his recent visit to the outer Hebrides. I understand that the future option of an additional vessel on those routes, at least during peak summer, has been identified for further assessment as part of the work on the islands connectivity plan and investment programme. I hope that that work will continue at pace, and I am sure that the member will have the opportunity to represent his constituents on those issues.
Does the cabinet secretary agree that the only way for shipbuilding at Port Glasgow and Greenock and Inverclyde to continue in future was for the yard to be taken into public ownership? The Tories’ record of hammering shipbuilding communities is there for all to see. Nobody should listen to the Tories when it comes to saving shipbuilding jobs.
The member is right to remind the chamber that, in the face of a decade of Conservative cuts, the efforts of the Government saved not only Ferguson Marine from closure but more than 300 jobs that support the communities of Inverclyde. Those efforts ultimately ensured that two much-needed vessels will be completed and that the yard has a future.
We are investing in the future: we are supporting the yard to be more efficient, more competitive and more able to win contracts on the merits of its success. We will always back the shipbuilding industry in Scotland and deliver not only for Inverclyde but for our island communities, which rely on those lifeline services.