Smith challenges Executive to come clean on Ferguson's talks

07 August 2005
Future tenders must not use same "flawed procedures"

Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith has today repeated his calls for the Scottish Executive to reveal the detail of it's discussions with Europe over Ferguson Shipbuilders.

Mr Smith wrote to First Minister Jack McConnell in July asking him to clarify the apparent contradiction between Scottish Executive statements regarding discussions with the European Commission and a European Commission parliamentary answer stating that no discussions have taken place with either the Scottish Executive or the DTI on the issue of state aid and illegal subsidies.

He also urged the Executive to examine the tendering process before new vessels are ordered.

Speaking after the tender decision was announced Mr Smith said

"The only people to blame for this decision and for the potential loss of 200 jobs are the Executive ministers, not the European Commission.

"Ross Finnie and Jack McConnell have persistently failed to serve Scotland's best interests. This is not a problem with Europe, it is a problem with Scottish Ministers.

"The First Minister told Parliament that the Scottish Executive took Ferguson's concerns to Europe, but the Commission says they have heard nothing. Ministers must show us the detail of any discussions they had with the European Commission over the allegations of unfair competition. We must know who is right.

"Let's have some answers from the Scottish Executive, and before we see this scenario repeated with the next Fisheries Protection Vessel, let's have a guarantee that future tenders for public vessels will not be subject to the same flawed procedures."