The answer to a parliamentary question from Motherwell and Wishaw MSP John Pentland has revealed the gap between Scottish Government boasts and the actual value of contracts awarded to Scottish firms by the Forth Crossing project.
Speaking at the Scottish Labour Party Conference, John Pentland said:
“I raised this issue at First Minister’s Question Time on the 2nd of February. He boasted that 76% of subcontracts, and 870 supply orders had been awarded to Scottish firms, saying he gave these figures to avoid a misleading impression. So I tabled questions asking the actual value of the contracts and supply orders. It won’t surprise you that the First Minister’s figures have created rather than avoided a misleading impression.
“222 Scottish firms have so far won sub contracts worth about £23m from total awards of £140m – 16% of the total value. The 76% figure clearly had more than its fair share of smaller contracts. The 870 supply orders are worth £13m, but even taking them into account, the total value of Scottish awards is just £36m out a total of £160m. Less than a quarter. I also discovered, that having awarded the £790 million principal contract, the Scottish Government then relinquished involvement in further procurement, without even the right to know the value of contracts.
“Without the big sub contracts, we are fighting over the crumbs. We could have used community benefit clauses, as Labour has done in Wales, to ensure that the consequences for Scotland were a bigger consideration when awarding contracts. What other country would argue that on a contract of this size, getting such a tiny percentage of the work for itself was an acceptable result?
“The Scottish Government needs to take a long hard look at itself. The Scottish Government needs to learn the lessons of this debacle. It needs to go homewards and think again.”
Mr Pentland was seconding an emergency motion calling for a full and transparent review of procurement for the new bridge. His constituency includes the Dalzell steel plant. Michael Leahy, general secretary of the Community union, said not one ounce of steel from Scotland will be going into the bridge, but that a third of the steel could have been supplied from Scotland, with the rest from other UK suppliers.
First Minister’s Questions 2 Feb 2012
John Pentland (Motherwell and Wishaw) (Lab): I have been informed that one bid in relation to the Forth crossing included the supply of steel by Tata from the Dalzell plant in Motherwell. That would have been a major boost for employment in my constituency and in Lanarkshire, and for Scotland’s steel industry. Will the First Minister therefore explain why Transport Scotland has said that no Scottish firms were involved? Will he meet Tata’s chief executive to discuss the Scottish steel industry’s role?
The First Minister: I would certainly be glad to arrange a ministerial meeting. I point out that 118 subcontracts have been awarded to Scottish firms from the total of 155 subcontracts that have been awarded to date. That represents 76 per cent of total subcontracts. We can also consider that 870 of the 1,041 supply orders that have been awarded for the principal contract have gone to Scottish companies. I cite those figures as strong evidence because I know that the member would not wish to give a misleading impression about the willingness to award contracts to Scottish companies when possible. The figures illustrate that determination. I am happy to arrange ministerial meetings, because the evidence indicates a strong willingness among the consortium’s members—including Morrison Construction—to make awards to Scottish contractors when possible.
Written Answer, 1 March 2012
John Pentland (Motherwell and Wishaw) (Scottish Labour): To ask the Scottish Executive , further to the answer to the fourth supplementary to question S4F-00432 by the First Minister on 2 February 2012 (Official Report, c. 6045), what the value of the subcontracts awarded for the Forth Replacement Crossing project is and what the value is for subcontracts given to firms in Scotland. (S4W-05504)
Mr Keith Brown MSP: 222 Scottish firms have so far benefitted from either sub contracts or supply orders associated with the Forth Crossing. The value of individual subcontracts and supply orders awarded is a matter for Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors. As of 15 February 2012, FCBC have advised Transport Scotland that nine months into the six year contract about £23 million of subcontracts have been awarded to Scottish companies and about £13 million of supply orders. It is expected that more subcontracts and supply orders will be awarded to Scottish companies as the project continues. In total about £140m of subcontracts and about £20m of supply orders have been issued. A breakdown of individual subcontracts is not available.