Claims that Scotland would lose thousands of jobs if the Trident nuclear weapons system is taken out of service or moved elsewhere have been thrown into question following an admission by the Ministry of Defence that only 520 civilian jobs at HM Naval Base Clyde are dependent on Trident.
The figure was released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in response to a freedom of information request from Scottish CND, who asked the Ministry to provide a definitive up-to-date number of jobs at the Clyde base, which includes the Faslane submarine port and the Coulport nuclear weapons store, which directly rely on the Trident strategic weapons system.
MoD replied that “there are 520 civilian jobs at Her Majesty’s Naval Base (HMNB) Clyde, including Coulport and Faslane, that directly rely upon the Trident programme”. MoD employs 159 personnel at the Clyde base, with private contractors Babcock Marine and Lockheed Martin UK Strategic Systems employing 254 and 107 people respectively. The majority of the jobs are for engineering and science specialists.
During a visit to Faslane on 29 October Defence Secretary Philip Hammond claimed that: “The Faslane complex is the largest employment site in Scotland with over 6500 jobs underpinning the local economy”. A further 1500 jobs would be created at Faslane when the Astute and Trafalgar class fleet submarines moved to the base, he said, with even more jobs generated in the local economy as a result of ‘multiplier’ effects.
About 3,500 of the jobs at the Clyde base are uniformed Royal Navy personnel, 1,700 are contractors and 1,600 are other civilian employees, most of whom work principally on other aspects of the Navy’s submarine programme, rather than Trident. Claims that all these jobs would be lost are based on the unlikely assumption that the Ministry of Defence would close the entire Faslane base immediately.
An expert study into the economic consequences of cancelling Trident commissioned by the Scottish Trades Union Congress and Scottish CND concluded that the total reduction in direct and indirect civilian employment across Scotland if Trident was scrapped would be less than 1800 and that this reduction would not take place until after 2022.
The Scottish National Party has calculated that diverting £1 billion from the Trident replacement programme into infrastructure spending in the west of Scotland would generate around 15,000 jobs.