PLANS by the UK Government to privatise military guards at nuclear bases on the Clyde have come under blistering attack by both the SNP and Labour.

The proposal has been branded as "chilling" and "dangerous", with both parties are now working to persuade Westminster to drop the idea.

If it goes ahead private security companies, like G4S and Mitie, would bid to run the service currently carried out by the Ministry of Defence Guard Service (MGS), including the protection of nuclear submarines at Faslane and the Trident warhead storage site at Coulport.

The MGS currently employs 2100 civilian staff at over 100 MoD sites across the UK including HM Naval Base Clyde at Faslane.

The MoD claim they could make saving of approximately £17m over five years.

Fears, also being raised by unions, are that while those guarding the sites currently have in-depth training, private firms may use security staff with no specialist knowledge. Unions also reject claims that savings would be possible.

Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara, SNP spokesman on defence, said he would attempt to block the Conservative plans, and is planning to raise questions in Westminster this week.

“This is a particularly chilling example of the Tories cutting costs and cutting corners – and when it comes to nuclear bases – it is just not on,” he added.

“The UK government cannot – must not – play fast and loose with security. If Westminster continues to insist on siting the deadliest nuclear arsenal in history on the Clyde, the least we can ask is that shareholder concerns about profits shouldn’t drive the security requirements.”

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie, whose Dumbarton constituency takes in Faslane, has written to Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon MP, urging him to drop the plans. She has also laid down a motion at the Scottish Parliament and is calling for an official debate, acknowledging the “vital role” of the specialist teams.

“The security of nuclear sites across the UK is too important to be auctioned off to the lowest bidder and the Tory Government should drop the plans immediately,” she said.

Both the Unite and Public and Commercial Services (PCS) unions have also pledged to fight the move. A spokesman for PCS added: “It’s an extremely dangerous path that the MoD are pursuing, risking the security at such important sites for negligible financial saving.

“We’re all aware of the appalling record of private security providers – whether it is prisoner transfers or tagging of non-existent offenders. No one wants to see someone guarding supermarket shelves on a Monday and then nuclear subs on a Tuesday.”

However Veronika Tudhope, organiser of Scottish CND, said the only way to properly deal with security was to get rid of nuclear weapons. "The only safe weapon is one that has been disarmed," she said.

Last June all Scottish MPs, expect for Scottish Secretary David Mundell, voted against the renewal of the Trident fleet. However the motion to renew was supported by 472 votes to 117. The SNP has repeatedly called for Trident missiles to be removed from the Clyde.

In December last year Cabinet Office papers, released by the National Archives in London, revealed that the then Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had approved a shoot-to-kill policy at the Faslane base in 1988 after a break-in by anti-nuclear protestors. Her adviser noted: “Had they been armed terrorists, the consequences would have been incalculable.”

An MoD spokesperson said no final decision had been reached on the privatisation plan. “We are reviewing the way we provide our guarding at some sites but would never make changes that put safety and security in jeopardy,” he added.