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."

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    Barbara Craxton: Good Lord ! Yes by all means if you wish to throw away money at an astronomical rate then by all means feel free. To spend a cumulative £5m with such a low return in the hopes that people will travel to such a remote location in the hope that it will create a hub is in my opinion insane. I was born in Scotland and live in Vancouver BC Canada. I have no clue where this town you wish to place the tapestry is and the likelihood of me making the journey there is zero. However, if it was in Edinburgh or Glasgow it would be a destination on my list. This is a tapestry of huge historical significance, yes? So put it where it is most accessible to international as well as local tourists. It's hard to fathom there is even a question as to where it should be placed. Dumbfounded.

    Great Tapestry of Scotland

    Mary Daykin: No way is Tweedbank right place unless serious double up for transport with Abbotsford. Could it not be at Abbotsford? There are no other tourist attractions at Tweedbank. Hawick is a good idea.

    The Great Tapestry of Scotland

    EB: It is a case of making this wonderful national piece of art available for view to the greatest number of people. It is obvious that a far greater number of Scots and foreigners will have the opportunity to see the tapestry if housed in either Edinburgh or Glasgow, may also quickly recover costs.

    Send us your views and you can also visit the dedicated South of Scotland live page here.

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    Scotland Live
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    3. Olivia
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    7. Amelia
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    "Ice pancakes"

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    Mr Urquhart, who found and photographed the "pancakes", said: "What we think happened is this - foam floating about on the water started to freeze, probably at night.

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    RBS sign

    He told Good Morning Scotland: "I think the risk continues broadly as it was, in many ways.

    "I think if you are a financial service sector company selling products across the United Kingdom and there are risks that the regulatory environment will change in Scotland, that the legal environment may change you may prefer to have your formal head office in London or elsewhere in England in order to sell products to an English base."

    09:37: Nursery damaged by fire

    A nursery has been badly damaged after a fire broke out in the early hours of the morning.

    About 25 firefighters tackled the overnight blaze at Mossvale Nursery in Paisley.

    The alarm was raised just before 02:00, with crews bringing the fire under control at about 04:30.

    Fire crews managed to contain the fire to one half of the nursery. The cause of the blaze at the Fullerton Street premises is not known.

    Text us on 80295 Midwives on abortion - Your Views

    Amy, Fife: As a nurse I have always been aware that I should support patients, regardless of religious beliefs (my own or the patient's) I have worked with Catholic and Muslim colleagues who are happy to assist patients whilst putting aside their own particular beliefs, and, as a non religious person, I have participated in assisting patients with their religious beliefs. As a professional we should leave our own beliefs in the changing room.

    Lucy, Edinburgh: I agree with the Supreme Court decision, but was horrified to hear that the poor women seeking a medical termination are on the labour ward, making a difficult situation even worse.

    Financial uncertainty Douglas Fraser Business and economy editor, Scotland

    Finance firms would have moved HQ from Scotland if 'Yes': may still do after 'No' as uncertainty goes on - Jeremy Peat

    09:08: Wages at Ibrox

    Most of Rangers' under-performing players are only at Ibrox for big-money salaries, according to the club's former striker Kevin Kyle.

    The 33-year-old says some of his team-mates were earning more than £400,000 per year when he was at Ibrox in the bottom tier of the Scottish league.

    Rangers striker Kevin Kyle

    "The majority of players who are there at Rangers are there for one reason and one reason only," said Kyle.

    "And that's the money that was on offer to them."

    One day I'll fly away... John Beattie BBC Scotland

    Anyone out there who clears off regularly abroad in the winter time? Looking to talk to someone for @BBCRadioScot

    08:50: Tune in...

    On Morning Call, two Catholic midwives who objected to supervising abortions, have lost their case, is it the right decision? And, as takeaway and pre-packaged meals become the staple diet for many, do you have the time to cook a meal from scratch? The lines are open now. 0500 92 95 00

    Morning Call

    You can listen to the programme here.

    08:41: 'Maintain EU membership'

    Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney has blamed any uncertainty around the financial sector on the Conservative government's proposal for an in-out referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union.

    Mr Swinney also said he was "happy to reaffirm" the Scottish government's commitment to financial regulation being UK-wide.

    Scottish Finance Minister John Swinney

    He told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme: "The points Jeremy Peat makes about common regulation are points we made during the referendum campaign, where our proposal was that we should work to maintain our financial services market across these islands.

    "I have told business leaders the Scottish government, and for my part the Scottish National Party, would be firm supporters of maintaining the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union.

    "We see the advantages of Scotland being a full participant in the European markets and what the EU referendum threatens to do is to jeopardise that direct relationship between Scottish companies and European markets."

    Oil prices Douglas Fraser Business and economy editor, Scotland

    Oil price drop and North Sea tech delays force Canada-owned Iona Energy (UK) to cut costs and restructure $275m bond issue.

    08:24: CalMac sailings liable to disruption BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    Due to adverse weather, sailings on the Mallaig - Armadale service are on amber alert today and are liable to disruption.

    Keep an eye on the latest on the CalMac website.

    08:10: 'Immense' council savings sought

    Councillors will meet later to discuss cuts to services and staff to help Highland Council save £55m over the next four years.

    The local authority's budget leader Maxine Smith has described the scale of savings it must achieve as "immense".

    Scottish bank notes and pound coins

    She said the administration had listened to public feedback on proposed cuts and it had sought to protect frontline services and jobs.

    An opposition group of councillors has suggested alternative savings.

    A full meeting of the council in Inverness will consider the rival proposals from the SNP/Lib Dem/Labour coalition, which runs the council, and from the Independent group.

    07:55: Some dogs are more than just a companion Louise Sayers BBC Scotland

    Hearing dogs can help deaf people with everything from waking up in the morning to alerting them to sounds such as a phone or a doorbell ringing.

    Aster the hearing dog

    They could even be responsible for saving their deaf partner's life in an emergency.

    I've been to meet Aster: The first Hearing Dog to be trained entirely in Scotland.

    07:50: Naismith feeling good about Goodison

    Scotland international Steven Naismith says he is on the crest of a wave at Everton.

    The former Rangers forward has signed a new three-year deal to remain at Goodison until 2019.

    Steven Naismith scoring for Everton

    "I would say this is probably the best form of my career," he said. "I'm delighted to have agreed an extension which will keep me here for a few more years yet."

    The 28-year-old, who joined Everton from Rangers in 2012, has found the net six times this season.

    07:42: Occupational hazard David Miller BBC Scotland environment correspondent

    Scotland could lose the ability to respond quickly to nuclear emergencies if staffing is cut at a monitoring station, it has been claimed.

    The warning came from the former head of the Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards in Glasgow.

    The CRCE laboratory was the first in the UK to detect radioactive fallout from the Fukushima disaster

    The laboratory was the first in the UK to detect trace amounts of radioactive fallout from Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March 2011.

    It was established in the 1970s by the National Radiological Protection Board.

    Travel update BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    The A725 is partially blocked by a broken down car at the Bellziehill Roundabout. Police are directing traffic.

    07:35: What the papers say

    Care home children as young as 13 were caught by police at a "booze-fuelled alleged sex party", according to the Scottish Sun.

    The Daily Record describes how a man dressed as Santa was "huckled" by police after he hitched a ride on the Wellington statue in Glasgow.

    Thursday's newspapers

    The National reports on the "solidarity" shown by the people of Scotland to those affected by the Peshawar school massacre in Pakistan.

    Read our paper review here.

    07:33: Tories urge house-buying tax change

    The Scottish Conservatives believe the "eye-watering" new tax rate for people buying homes between £250,000 and £500,000 should be halved.

    The Tories have outlined proposals for a property tax scale which they said would be fairer than that being introduced by the Scottish government.

    For Sale sign

    The new Land and Building Transactions Tax will replace stamp duty on houses purchased in Scotland from 1 April.

    Ministers claim tax will be reduced on houses costing up to £254,000.

    07:29: Rangers latest

    Speculation over the future of Rangers manager Ally McCoist dominates the back pages of this morning's papers.

    McCoist remains in place following a meeting with the club's board but will be a hot topic of debate at Monday's AGM, the papers say.

    Rangers boss Ally McCoist

    Meanwhile, Hearts owner Ann Budge wants the Edinburgh side back in European competition by 2017.

    Read our round-up of the back page headlines here.

    07:21: Rich tapestry of life

    Borders councillors are to decide whether to go ahead with building a permanent home for the Great Tapestry of Scotland, at Tweedbank.

    The Scottish government has pledged £2.5m towards the scheme.

    However, that still means Scottish Borders Council would have to allocate up to £3.5m.

    The Great Tapestry of Scotland

    A report reckons the building could draw tens of thousands of visitors a year to the site, which is near to one end of the new Borders Railway line.

    Officially the world's largest embroidered tapestry, the 469ft (143m) artwork uses 300 miles (483km) of yarn to depict 42 million years of Scottish history across 160 panels.

    07:14: Praise for university research Jamie McIvor BBC Scotland education correspondent

    The range and quality of research at Scotland's universities has been praised in a new UK-wide survey.

    Most Scottish universities have maintained or improved their standing in the league table.

    Overall Edinburgh University came out in 4th place while Glasgow University was 13th.

    More than 85% of university research in Scotland was judged to have an outstanding or very significant impact in wider society and economy.

    This figure was higher than the UK average.

    07:08: Also on GMS Gary Robertson BBC Radio Scotland

    'Uncertainty' concern for Scottish finance sector, says Jeremy Peat.

    Jeremy Peat has compiled a new study of Scotland's financial sector.

    He's on #bbcgms at 07:35.

    Get the background from our Business and economy editor, Douglas Fraser.

    07:05: Coming up... Gary Robertson BBC Radio Scotland

    More than 130,000 people expected in and out of @EDI_Airport over the festive period. Where are they heading? CEO Gordon Dewar #bbcgms 0720

    Good Morning Scotland programme

    Listen to the programme here.

    How's the weather looking? BBC Scotland Weather Latest

    Hi, Kawser here. Cloudy with rain & drizzle in the West - heavy at times. Drier and brighter further East. Colder & showery in Northern Scotland. Strong coastal winds.

    07:02: Oil industry 'close to collapse'

    The UK's oil industry is in "crisis" as prices drop, a senior industry leader has told the BBC.

    Oil companies and service providers are cutting staff and investment to save money.

    Robin Allan, chairman of the independent explorers' association Brindex, told the BBC that the industry is "close to collapse".

    North Sea oil rig

    Almost no new projects in the North Sea are profitable with oil below $60, he claims.

    "It's almost impossible to make money at these oil prices", Mr Allan, who is a director of Premier Oil in addition to chairing Brindex, told the BBC. "It's a huge crisis."

    07:00: Welcome Thomas McGuigan BBC Scotland News

    It's early, it's time to get moving, it's Thursday's edition of Scotland Live...



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