‘There was “zero” Scottish steel in the Forth Road Bridge, David Cameron has claimed, after an SNP MP accused him of viewing Scottish jobs as “expendable”.
The Prime Minister insisted the Scottish and UK Governments “should work together” on issues such as procurement, but went on to assert the Forth Road Bridge spanning the Firth of Forth contained “absolutely nothing” when it came to Scottish steel.
His comments came after SNP Marion Fellows (Motherwell and Wishaw) argued the Conservative Government “did next to nothing to save the Scottish steel industry” and was “breaking” promises to protect the Scottish shipbuilding industry.
Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons, she said: “The Prime Minister and his Government did next to nothing to save the Scottish steel industry, it was left to the Scottish Government to do that.
“Now the UK Government is breaking the promises made by both Tories and Labour to protect the Scottish shipbuilding industry. Why does the Prime Minister think that Scottish jobs are so expendable?”
Mr Cameron replied: “Frankly, the Scottish Government and the UK Government should work together. And one of the things we should work together on is procurement.
“And it is worth asking how much Scottish steel was in the Forth Road Bridge – zero, none, absolutely nothing, yes.
“What a contrast with the warships that we’re building, that of course we wouldn’t be building if we had an independent Scotland. So we back the steel industry with actions as well as words.”
Raising a point of order later in the Commons, SNP MP Alex Salmond (Gordon)asked Speaker John Bercow to consider a “new innovative Prime Ministerial correction procedure” to give Mr Cameron the opportunity to “rapidly correct any misleading impressions he inadvertently gives” at PMQs.
— Alex Salmond (@AlexSalmond) April 27, 2016
The former First Minister of Scotland countered that the bridge’s girders were made from Scottish steel and attacked previous Conservative decisions on Scottish steel capabilities.
He said: “I know that the Prime Minister would be incredibly anxious today in his general attack on the procurement policies of the Scottish Government with regard to the Forth crossing, to acknowledge that actually 45% of the total orders of £540 million were placed with Scottish companies.
“I know that the Prime Minister would want to correct the misleading impression there was no Scottish steel in the contract by acknowledging that steel from the Dalzell plate mill was in the girders at either end of the bridge.
“And I fully understand the Prime Minister would want to acknowledge that the reason there was no Scottish bidder for the main sub contract was the closure of the Ravenscraig Steel Mill by a previous Tory Government in the 1990s removing our capacity to supply such steel.”