Labour in last-ditch campaign to save Rosyth

LABOUR published an emergency rescue plan for the Rosyth Royal Navy base yesterday, on the eve of a lobby of Parliament by defence workers protesting at the Government's decision to axe the yard.

Gordon Brown, the Shadow Chancellor, whose Dunfermline East constituency includes the base, outlined a package of measures which, he said, would guarantee the future of the yard and save the Government pounds 4m a year.

Under the plan, based on leaked documents from the Ministry of Defence, the yard, which currently provides support for minesweepers and fisheries' protection vessels in the North Sea, would become the centre for Navy minesweeping operations, saving pounds 4m a year.

An additional pounds 7m would be saved by streamlining the administration of the base and pounds 6m would be raised by selling off surplus land. A 'number of jobs' would be lost among the 1,300 civilian workers at the yard.

Overall, Mr Brown said, the measures would transform annual overheads of pounds 10m into a saving of pounds 4m.

He said he was confident this week's last-ditch campaign to save Rosyth could force a government U-turn. The Cabinet will announce its decision on Thursday.

Mr Brown, who sent copies of Labour's rescue package to John Major and Malcolm Rifkind, the Secretary of State for Defence, met Scottish Office ministers last night to urge them to re-examine the case for the base.

On a visit to the Faslane nuclear submarine facility on the Clyde yesterday, Mr Rifkind dismissed as 'hysterical speculation' reports that Rosyth faced total closure. Thursday's announcement would contain 'extremely good news in terms of jobs and the requirements of the services', he said.

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