UK & World News
£350m Boost For British Nuclear Submarines
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond will today announce an additional £350m to design the future generation of British nuclear-armed submarines.
This investment will sustain 1,200 UK jobs and follows the initial £350m of design work announced earlier this year, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.
Mr Hammond will make the announcement on a visit to the home of the UK's nuclear deterrent at Faslane on the River Clyde in Scotland.
Commenting on the Scottish independence debate, the Defence Secretary will reiterate the Government's commitment to keep the naval base in Scotland.
He will say: "We are confident that the Scottish people will choose to remain part of the United Kingdom.
"The Faslane complex is the largest employment site in Scotland with over 6,500 jobs underpinning the local economy.
"We have no plans to move the nuclear deterrent from the Clyde.
"On the contrary, we intend to move the Astute and Trafalgar Class attack submarines to Faslane, creating a further 1,500 jobs.
"The Scottish Government needs to explain how their policy would benefit Scotland's economy and safeguard Scottish jobs."
The announcement follows the successful firing of an unarmed Trident ballistic missile by HMS Vigilant during a test launch in the Atlantic Ocean last week.
HMS Vigilant is one of four Vanguard Class submarines which maintain the UK's nuclear deterrent.
The Vanguard submarines will be replaced from 2028 by the Successor which is currently being designed by British companies.
As a result of today's announcement, BAE Systems will proceed with an additional £315m worth of work.
A further £38m will be carried out by engineering support services company Babcock.
The decision to press ahead with spending on the design for the new submarines is likely to renew coalition tensions over the replacement for Britain's Trident nuclear deterrent.
The issue divides the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, and as part of their coalition-forming agreement both parties promised to delay the final decision on whether to replace the nuclear deterrent until after the next general election.
A senior Lib Dem source appeared to downplay Mr Hammond's announcement, saying: "There has been no change in policy on Trident. This is just some detail around the announcement of funding that was made back in May 2011.
"The crucial decision on maingate and whether there will be a like-for-like replacement for Trident will not be made until 2016.
"The Liberal Democrats will continue to make the case for alternatives to a like-for-like replacement. Our current review into those alternatives will report next year."
SNP MSP Bill Kidd attacked the move and accused Mr Hammond of using "fantasy figures" relating to the number of jobs dependent on the nuclear weapons system at Faslane.
He said: "For the UK Government to boast about spending hundreds of millions of pounds on weapons of mass destruction - while at the same time implementing brutal welfare cuts and slashing investment in the economy - is obscene.
"More than that, Philip Hammond's weak attack on the Scottish people's choice in the independence referendum continues to use fantasy figures relating to the number of jobs associated with Trident at Faslane.
"His own Ministry's figures obtained through FoI show that there are not thousands of jobs dependent on the nuclear weapons system but 520 - all of which and more will be taken up by Faslane continuing as the main Scottish naval base."