Keep naval shipbuilding fully operational in Portsmouth
Ships have been built in Portsmouth for the country's navy for 500 hundred years. It seems that, due to a coming reduction in orders for new ships for the Royal Navy, there needs to be a reduction in activity over the three shipyards which have been engaged in surface shipbuilding for the RN - two on the Clyde and one in Portsmouth. The Government does not own the shipyards but through its power as the major customer has in effect control over their operations.
Apart from any considerations regarding the welfare of the workforce in Portsmouth, it would be utterly unacceptable to put the facilties there in jeopardy just when the alternatives are located in Scotland where there will shortly be a referendum to decide whether to leave our country. The continuation of shipbuilding in Portsmouth must be protected and guaranteed. Indeed in these circumstances the facilities should be. enhanced.
Government responseAs this e-petition has received more than 10 000 signatures, the relevant Government department have provided the following response:
Rationalisation of BAE Systems’ (BAES) industrial footprint was a key requirement of the 15 year, Terms of Business Agreement (TOBA), signed between the company and the previous Government in 2009. This agreement made provision for a reduction in UK warship building demand, following completion of the build work on the Type 45 Destroyers and the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers. This volume of work represented an artificial high which was always going to tail off. BAES therefore needed to explore options for transforming and rationalising their UK shipbuilding capability to retain the key skills needed to build the next generation of complex warships at the best value for defence and the public. As a result BAES decided to close their Portsmouth facility and focus their shipbuilding activity on the Clyde.
The MOD did not stipulate how BAES should rationalise its shipbuilding business. This was BAES’ decision, based on a considered review of their maritime business and was not related to political considerations. Portsmouth will maintain its proud maritime heritage as the home of much of the Royal Navy's surface fleet and the centre of BAES' ship support and maintenance business.
The UK Government’s position remains that it is not planning for Scottish independence and cannot pre-negotiate the details of independence ahead of the referendum. Until people in Scotland have voted in the referendum, the UK Government will continue to plan on the basis that it represents all parts of the United Kingdom.
We understand the shipbuilding decision was disappointing. It was not an easy decision for BAES, but it is our joint responsibility to ensure that we have a sustainable shipbuilding industry for the future.
This e-petition remains open to signatures and will be considered for debate by the Backbench Business Committee should it pass the 100 000 signature threshold.
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