union for life

Dunfermline and West Fife

Dunfermline and West Fife

Major employers

Rosyth, Scottish Government, Scottish Power

Questions

  1. Will you maintain defence expenditure at no less than the annual limits set out in the 2015 spending review, and at levels of at least 2% of GDP for the rest of the parliament?
  2. Will you commit to implement Sir John Parker’s review of UK shipbuilding?
  3. Will you lift the arbitrary and unsustainable cap on public sector pay and commission an independent review of pay in the civil service and wider public sector?
  4. Will you publish a coherent long-term policy framework to secure the investment necessary to deliver secure, sustainable and affordable energy in the UK?

Candidates’ responses

Belinda Hacking (Conservative)

To answer your questions, I agree with you that defence spending should remain within the annual limits of the 2015 spending review. Particularly with the violence that we have seen recently, we need to be sure to maintain our commitment to NATO with the 2% of GDP going towards defence, as well investment in counter-terrorism.

I have read the review led by Sir John Parker, it is considered and informed. While I do not know what the‘official’response was to this review, it would seem sensible that the key recommendations and executive summary were implemented to the best of our ability. Ship building is an important industry that we need to support, there are many jobs associated either directly or indirectly with this industry.

In terms of the long term energy policy, business needs to have predictability so that investment decisions can be made to support development over the longer term. We can only have safe, sustainable and affordable energy if we have private investment into energy projects as well as government supported. You will be aware that we have backed a new nuclear power station at Hinkley in Somerset, we shall also need to provide the conditions for investment in gas fired power stations as well as renewable energy sources.

So far, the policies implemented have been largely successful, in that energy production rose by 9.6% in 2016. There is continued need to ensure that Ofgem provides effective regulation that challenges business practise appropriately. In terms of affordability, the cap on prices relates to those with pre payment meters, so that standard variable tariffs are not over-priced. This needs to be done in such a way that competition is not constrained.

I recognise that you have asked some important questions for which there are not simple answers or solutions. I hope that this too brief reply provides some helpful information.

Cara Hilton (Labour)

Do you support maintaining defence expenditure at no less than the annual limits set out in the 2015 spending review, and at levels of at least 2% of GDP?
 
Yes and it is vital in the current climate that our defence needs are kept under continual review to keep people safe and meet new challenges and threats to our security.
 
Labour’s manifesto contains a firm commitment to keep defence expenditure at 2% of Britain’s wealth and also promises a full review of the government counter-terrorism programme. As all previous incoming governments have done, a Labour Government will order a complete strategic defence review when it comes into office – to assess the emerging threats facing Britain, including hybrid and cyber warfare.
 
Will you commit to implement Sir John Parker’s review of UK shipbuilding?
 
Scotland and the rest of the UK has a proud tradition of shipbuilding and huge potential to be a major exporter in this area. Sir John Parkers review rightly identifies the positive contribution shipbuilding could make to the renewal of British manufacturing and is definitely a wake up call to Tory Ministers who have presided over severe cuts to the capabilities of the Royal Navy.
 
It is also very welcome that the report emphasises the important of positive engagement with trade unions and workers and this is vital if we are to develop a thriving shipbuilding industry for the future. There is absolutely no doubt that shipbuilding has huge potential to create more highly skilled, high quality jobs not just in Rosyth but right across the UK – this is welcome for our communities and our economy and local and national level.

So yes, I want to see the incoming Government work with trade unions and with industry to address the concerns raised, to implement the report and to secure a bright future for our shipbuilding industry.

Would you support an independent pay review for public sector staff affected by the 1% pay cap?

Yes. It is outrageous that public sector workers have been subjected to a 1% pay cap, which is effectively a pay cap and I support an independent pay review for all staff affected. Scottish Labour believes that public sector workers deserve a pay rise after years of falling wages.
 
What is your view on securing a coherent long-term policy framework for the investment necessary to deliver secure, sustainable and affordable energy in the UK?
 
I believe it’s vital that we have a balanced energy policy which ensures we can keep the lights, while minimizing the impact on our environment and keeping bills affordable for consumers. This is vital to our economy – it heats our homes, enables business and industry to produce good, transports goods and people and as an industry directly provides high quality jobs and contributes towards economic growth.
 
I am disappointed that neither the current Scottish or UK Governments have invested in the potential of Carbon Capture and Storage, this could have secured a future for Longannet, its workforce and jobs right across the supply chain.
 
Scotland has a wealthy resource of renewable energy and Scottish Labour wants to generate 50% of Scotland’s energy, heat and transport demand from renewables by 2030.  Investing the renewables sector will not only create cleaner energy, it will create high quality jobs.  Investment must include enhanced support to make onshore wind projects in island communities economically viable. It is disappointing that the current UK Government are refusing to support the sector, despite the fact that investment could benefit Scotland’s islands economies by up to £725 million over the next 25 years, while ensuring Scotland meets our climate change targets and cutting energy costs.
 
Labour has pledged to create a new National Investment Bank financed with an injection of initial public capital which will be leveraged using additional private sector finance to give £250bn of lending power over the next decade. This £250bn will be invested over 10 years in energy, transport and digital infrastructure and will play a vital role in enabling the long term policy framework for investment that is urgently needed.

James Calder (Lib Dem)

Do you support maintaining defence expenditure at no less than the annual limits set out in the 2015 spending review, and at levels of at least 2% of GDP?

The Liberal Democrats support maintaining Defence spending of at least 2% and I am happy to back this.

Will you commit to implement Sir John Parker’s review of UK shipbuilding?

The Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to take heed of this review and to get on with the job of building the new ships necessary for the Royal Navy to thrive.

Would you support an independent pay review for public sector staff affected by the 1% pay cap?

The Liberal Democrats back ending the 1% pay cap for public sector staff and giving them a proper pay-rise.

What is your view on securing a coherent long-term policy framework for the investment necessary to deliver secure, sustainable and affordable energy in the UK?

The Liberal Democrats aim to double the UK rate of renewable electricity generation to 60% by 2030, and will work to restore Government support for both solar and onshore wind energy.

Douglas Chapman (Scottish National Party)

Do you support maintaining defence expenditure at no less than the annual limits set out in the 2015 spending review, and at levels of at least 2% of GDP?

I've certainly supported this through my work on the Defence Select Committee, however decisions must be made urgently on the Type26 Frigates (already reduced in number from 13 down to 8). There have been no contracts signed and that's a serious worry particularly for Scotstoun and Govan.

There's also work to be done for the export focused Type 31's - again the pace of decision making at the heart of UK Government is a concern. We'll soon have the first carrier leave Rosyth and the Type 31's could provide some welcome work for the Dockyard at Rosyth once the carriers start to go on sea trials An early decision on carrier refits for Rosyth would also allow Babcock to plan more confidently for the future.

Will you commit to implement Sir John Parker’s review of UK shipbuilding?

We have and there is a lot in Parker's Review that we would support. I have pressed the Minister (Harriet Baldwin ) to be equally enthusiastic but again the UK Government has yet to respond to Parker review. This also relates to some of the issues you've asked in Q1 - in that Parker has suggested that some of work is shared out across a few yards...much in the same way as the carriers were procured through the Carrier Alliance. That could be a good model which might advantage Rosyth and Babcock plc have said just last week they'd be interested in competing for the work. After this election we really need to see greater urgency with regard to all these contracts not just to protect jobs, apprenticeships and on-going investment, but also strategically to protect our carriers as the aging Type 23's are not up to the job without further costly refits.

Would you support an independent pay review for public sector staff affected by the 1% pay cap?

Yes, it's in the SNP manifesto that was published today. The full manifesto can be found at www.snp.org but there is a section which covers an increased minimum wage and realistic, affordable pay increases for the public sector which moves away from the UK Treasury's rigid 1% wage increase cap. The manifesto suggests that the Scottish Government makes positive submissions to any pay review body to increase pay beyond the 1% cap and works with trade unions to find the right balance in terms dealing with pay in times of rising inflation beyond 1%.

What is your view on securing a coherent long-term policy framework for the investment necessary to deliver secure, sustainable and affordable energy in the UK?

I am supportive of renewable energy and in Scotland this should and could be a growing part of our energy mix especially if the right incentives were made available. The opposite has been the hallmark of the current U.K. Government with reduced support for the renewable sector, which is a huge lost opportunity.