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New Tartan For the Army - But 'English' Sporrans


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Launch Of A New Tartan Army - But Row Flares Over 'English' Sporrans

RAYMOND HAINEY The Scotsman Sat 31 Mar 2007

SCOTLAND'S new regiment will wear sporrans made in Birmingham after a £1.4 million contract went south of the Border, the Ministry of Defence revealed yesterday.

The Royal Regiment of Scotland will also sport tartan trews made in Yorkshire, which won a £1.7 million contract to supply 5,000 pairs of trews and jackets for Scots soldiers.

Angus Robertson, MP, the SNP defence spokesman, last night said the decision to award the contract outside Scotland was "a huge disappointment".

He said: "It is astounding that sporrans will be made in such a well-known Highland area as Birmingham. The Ministry of Defence should have made a commitment to Scottish companies for these contracts and it's a huge disappointment they have gone south of the Border.

"Every company involved in Highland dress supply in Scotland will be disappointed."

Mr Robertson added that the new "super-regiment" was a concept deeply unpopular with serving soldiers, veterans and the public. He said: "There was an opportunity to get some goodwill by awarding these contracts to Scottish companies which has been missed."

The ministry awarded a total of £4.3 million in contracts to equip the new regiment, with £3.1 million going to English companies. Ammo & Co in Birmingham will make 5,000 sporrans for the Royal Regiment of Scotland. The 5,000 kilts, however, will be supplied by Glenisla Kilts of Motherwell, in a contract worth £1.2 million.

Mr Robertson said: "Scotland fares very badly out of defence already in terms of procurement. But it's a further slap in the face that traditional Scottish garments which are part of our national identity have gone to Birmingham and Leeds."

John Nicoll, 63, a former Black Watch colour sergeant from Perth, served in the regiment for almost a quarter of a century.

He said: "We all have pride in our country and for such uniquely Scottish items to come in from England is disgraceful.

"I'm glad the work has stayed in Britain at least, but sporrans should be made in Scotland.

"Serving soldiers are not allowed to complain - but privately they will be very angry that these contracts did not go to Scottish companies."

He added: "Scottish companies need the work at least as much as English companies."

Mr Robertson said that the massive cost of equipping the Scottish super-regiment with new dress uniforms was a waste of money that could have been better spent making sure Scottish soldiers in war zones were supplied with good quality equipment.

He said: "We face a huge bill for putting this unwanted regiment together and the taxpayer will have to bear the cost of a regiment born out of the amalgamation of fine traditional regiments which was opposed by serving soldiers and veterans.
"Troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and other areas around the world are poorly equipped. We've seen equipment failures and substandard equipment and we are spending all this money on a regiment nobody wants. It's a waste of money all round."

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence said EU rules insisted on a fair and open tendering process for government contracts.

She added: "This is not a Scottish army. We are talking here about the British Army, so what's important is that it's British manufacturers making items for the British Army."

She added that in addition to the kilt deal, Scottish firms would be sub-contracted by Ammo & Co to work on the sporrans contract.

The spokeswoman added: "This is good news for British manufacturing as well as for Scottish manufacturing."