Scottish independence: White Paper 'must be clear on defence'

Scottish soldiers marching An independent Scottish armed forces would have 15,000 full time personnel, the Scottish government has said

A committee of MPs has said the upcoming White Paper on Scottish independence should be "absolutely clear" on how an independent Scotland would defend itself.

The Scottish government will publish the White Paper on Tuesday.

A Commons Scottish Affairs Committee report said the document should set out specifics on costs, personnel numbers, equipment types, bases and alliances.

The SNP said an independent Scotland would have first-class armed forces.

The Scottish government has previously said an independent Scotland would have a defence and security budget of £2.5bn, with an armed forces of 15,000 full time and 5,000 reserve personnel.

Nuclear weapons

It said Scotland would be entitled to a share of current UK defence assets, and would take part in peacekeeping and disaster relief.

It is also committed to joining Nato, and has pledged to move Trident nuclear weapons from the Faslane naval base on the Clyde.

The Scottish Affairs Committee's chairman, Ian Davidson, set out a list of questions on defence which he said should be answered in the White Paper, which will set out the Scottish government's plans for independence.

These questions included:

  • Will there be a defence force which is army heavy? An army which is infantry heavy? Will historic regiments be re-designated as platoons, reserves or non-infantry units?
  • How big will the Scottish Navy and Air Force actually be? Where will they be based and how will they be equipped?
  • Is Faslane to be kept with its existing workforce?

The committee has held a number of inquiries into questions raised by the referendum debate.

It is pro-Union in membership, with its sole SNP member, Dr Eilidh Whiteford, refusing to take part.

Mr Davidson said: "Much of what the Scottish government have suggested up to now suffers from a conspiracy of optimism - the assumption that everything will go according to plan, that every other government and international body will fall in with the Scottish government's proposals.

"But what if this doesn't happen? What are their alternatives? The Scottish government must spell out its fallback positions in the event that everything does not go so smoothly."

'Illegal invasions'

The people of Scotland will be asked the straight yes/no question "Should Scotland be an independent country?" when they vote in the referendum on 18 September next year.

SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson said Scotland had been "hugely short-changed" in its cash contribution to UK defence.

He added: "Since 2000, nearly 10,000 MoD posts have been lost in Scotland. An independent Scotland will have first-class conventional forces, which will play a full role in defending the country and co-operating with Nato partners.

"However, we will not waste billions of pounds on Trident nuclear weapons, or take part in illegal invasions like Iraq. When it comes to Scotland's defence capabilities, what we have we don't need, and what we need we don't have.

"Not a single major Royal Navy surface vessel is based in Scotland - the largest protection vessels stationed in Scottish waters are those of the fisheries protection vessels run by the Scottish government.

"With independence we can prioritise having the air and naval capacity needed to monitor and secure our offshore territory and resources."

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Scotland politics stories

RSS

Scotland Live

  1.  
    Travel update 08:48:

    My colleague Victoria Lumsden is in the traffic hot seat, calmness personified when all around is chaotic. She has these words for motorists and Commonwealth Games-goers to consider...

    In Aberdeenshire, the northbound A90 outside Stonehaven near Muchalls Bend remains closed following an accident early this morning. Diversions are via Netherlee Road.

    On the M8 between Edinburgh and Harthill, heavy rain is causing surface water and poor visibility so slow down and take care. It's especially bad between junction 2 Claylands and 4 Whitburn.

    And in Glasgow, it's probably best to leave your car at home today because a very busy day is expected on the roads and public transport. Around 130,000 people are expected at six Commonwealth Games venues. It's getting busy now at Scotstoun and at the Emirates Arena, so leave plenty of time for your journey.

     
  2.  
    08:40: Keir Murray

    Good morning and a very warm welcome to BBC Scotland's live coverage of what's happening around the country today.

    We'll have news, traffic reports and weather but our main focus will be on the penultimate day of the Commonwealth Games, with Scottish athletes in action in badminton, squash, boxing, diving, powerlifting and athletics.

     

Features

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • WomenBling and bags

    From luxury goods to expensive fundraisers - discover how the mega-rich in Indonesia spend it big

Programmes

  • Narrow boats on Regent's Canal, LondonThe Travel Show Watch

    Explore London’s industrial past on a narrowboat trip along the atmospheric Regent’s Canal

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.