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PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS

The Secretary of State was asked—

Defence Spending

Miss Anne Begg (Aberdeen, South) (Lab): How much was spent in Scotland by the Ministry of Defence in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. [135091]

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Douglas Alexander): Around £1.4bn of the defence budget has been spent directly in Scotland in each of the past three years. That reflects the vital contribution that Scotland makes to defence, both in terms of the brave men and women who join our armed forces and the high-quality Scottish companies that provide the sophisticated equipment used on the modern battlefield.

Miss Begg: Has my right hon. Friend had time to work out how much of that spending might be blocked by a political party that may be in government in Scotland and that has policies that are likely to prevent some of that vital work from being done in Scotland —[ Interruption. ]

Mr. Speaker: Order. I see that I may have to keep a tight rein on proceedings today. As it is the hon. Lady, I will allow the question.

Mr. Alexander: As ever, I will endeavour to keep my answer brief and factual. As at 1 April 2006, there were 13,520 regular forces serving in Scotland. The Ministry of Defence employs some 20,000 people in Scotland, including approximately 13,500 regular members of the armed services and 6,100 civilians, not including contractor personnel.

Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) (Con): Has the Secretary of State made an assessment of the effect on all that military investment in Scotland if the party that came first in the elections succeeds in persuading the party that came last to overcome the vestiges of its principles and join a coalition targeted, as usual, against the military?

Mr. Alexander: As he watched the Scottish elections from afar, I fear that the
hon. Gentleman may not fully have appreciated the fact that two thirds of the
Scottish electorate voted against separatism. Indeed, both the principal
parties—my own and the Scottish National party—secured between 32 and 33 per
cent. of the vote. Therefore, some of the more cataclysmic headlines that have
been written in recent days do not reflect the overwhelming consensus still in
Scotland that we are proud to remain part of the United Kingdom.

John McFall (West Dunbartonshire) (Lab/Co-op): May I inform the Secretary of
State that for the past 40 years defence has been an integral part of the economy of my area? In the past three years, more than £300m has been put into the local economy each year. With direct and indirect jobs at the Clyde naval base, we have more than 10,000 jobs. While words may come easy to some people, we cannot play fast and loose with people’s jobs. Defence is an important part of our area and may it continue to be so.

Mr. Alexander: Her Majesty’s naval base on the Clyde, which incorporates the
Faslane base, is one of the main naval bases in the United Kingdom and the headquarters of the Royal Navy in Scotland. I am sure that it will continue to have a strong future based on the Clyde and serving the defence interests not only of Scotland, but of the whole of the United Kingdom.

Angus Robertson (Moray) (SNP): Will the Secretary of State confirm that there are less service jobs in Scotland, less bases in Scotland, less shipbuilding jobs in Scotland—[Hon. Members: “Fewer.”]—and fewer Scottish regiments than when
Labour came to power?

Mr. Alexander: Obviously our forces have to reflect the nature of the challenges
that the country faces at any point. I am not convinced that the alternatives
that were offered in recent weeks in Scotland would produce a better future for
Scottish regiments or—certainly—for Scottish shipbuilding.

Mr. Ian Davidson (Glasgow, South-West) (Lab/Co-op): How many jobs does the Secretary of State believe would be created in Scotland by the construction of two aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy, and how many aircraft carriers would

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