Page last updated at 14:09 GMT, Thursday, 18 June 2009 15:09 UK

Respect call in rocket ranges row

Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond said a task force would be set up to fight the job cuts

Plans to cut jobs at rocket ranges on the Western Isles has led to angry scenes in the Scottish Parliament.

First Minister Alex Salmond accused some Labour MSPs of lacking respect when they barracked islands MSP Alasdair Allan.

The presiding officer called for order when Mr Allan asked for the Scottish Government's response to the cuts during first minister's questions.

About 125 posts could be axed at the ranges and their control centre.

After asking what representations the Scottish Government would be making to the UK Government about the plans, Mr Salmond criticised the actions of some Labour MSPs.

I will be ensuring that representations are made to the Westminster government to enable them to fully understand the full impact on fragile communities of announcing major job losses
Alex Salmond
First Minister

He said: "I think in a parliament, in terms of civility, constituency members asking about jobs in their constituency should be heard with some respect."

The first minister said there had been a "substantial" lack of consultation from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) ahead of Wednesday's announcement.

Mr Salmond also said Enterprise Minister Jim Mather would be setting up a task force with a remit of doing everything possible to protect the jobs and the islands' economy.

The first minister said: "I will be ensuring that representations are made to the Westminster government to enable them to fully understand the full impact on fragile communities of announcing major job losses."

Consultation period

A consultation period of 30 working days, inviting views on the proposals, has already started.

Cuts are being made as part of an effort by the MoD to make £50m savings.

The MoD said savings and staff reductions were to be achieved by 2028.

The largest share of the cuts are being made on the Western Isles, where there are four ranges and facilities on Benbecula, South Uist and St Kilda. They are operated by private defence technology company QinetiQ.

The job losses account for more than half the workforce.



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