Latest Whitehall Defence Report an admission Scotland would inherit fair share of assets say SNP

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  By Martin Kelly
 
The SNP has seized on a new Whitehall report which highlights what it claims would be difficulties in returning military units to an independent Scotland, by claiming that the report is now confirmation that Scotland would inherit a share of current UK defence assets.
 

  By Martin Kelly
 
The SNP has seized on a new Whitehall report which highlights what it claims would be difficulties in returning military units to an independent Scotland, by claiming that the report is now confirmation that Scotland would inherit a share of current UK defence assets.
 
Responding to the report, the Scottish National Party has said Defence Secretary Philip Hammond now has questions to answer on Defence assets in Scotland.

Commenting on the UK Government Scotland Analysis paper on Defence in an Independent Scotland, SNP Westminster Leader and Defence spokesperson Angus Robertson MP said:

“At last the UK Government has been forced to concede that an independent Scotland would inherit a fair share of UK defence assets, though Philip Hammond has many questions to answer as the perpetrator of disproportionate defence cuts and redundancies in Scotland.

“Scotland stands to inherit billions of pounds worth of assets – after all, the people of Scotland paid for them.”

The Scotland Analysis paper says: “It is undisputed that, in the event of independence, negotiations would have to take place with the continuing UK on a whole range of matters, including on assets and liabilities.”

MoD sources have confirmed there would be a division of assets but that they would be the result of intense negotiations.

In the latest report, UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has claimed that Scottish Regiments would not be automatically transferred to a newly independent Scotland.

In the 86 page document, designed to draw attention to what anti-independence campaigners say will be the negative impact of independence, Mr Hammond has said that the former UK might hang on to some of the best known units – including the Black Watch, the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and the Scots Guards.

The paper, to be published on Tuesday, says: “An independent Scottish state could not simply co-opt existing units that are primarily recruited or based in Scotland, as these are an integral part of the UK Armed Forces; nor could those units in themselves provide a coherent, credible and balanced force.”

It adds: “Similarly, individual members of the UK Armed Forces, in whatever units they serve, could not simply be moved into the forces of a separate Scottish state.”

The Conservative Minister also claimed that defence spend would be less in an independent Scotland.

A source for the MoD said: “The livelihoods of many thousands of people in Scotland are reliant upon the defence industrial base and integrated UK Armed Forces.  We already know that the Scottish Government would spend less on defence.”

However the claim that jobs would be safer if Scots opted to remain in the Union was challenged by Angus Robertson who pointed to official figures that showed current spend in Scotland was actually less than would be if the country was independent.  Mr Robertson also highlighted official statements from UK Ministers in which they admitted Scotland had been disproportionately hit by defence cuts.

Mr Robertson challenged Mr Hammond, and added: “He can take this opportunity to explain why his government promised a super barracks at Kirknewton that never happened and why his predecessor said 7,000 troops would be coming back from Germany to Scotland.

“Scotland’s defence and security budget of £2.5 billion will represent an increase of more than £500 million on recent UK levels of defence spending in Scotland, but would be nearly £1 billion less than Scottish taxpayers currently contribute to UK defence spending. It is the MoD that cancelled the annual spending statistics back 

“Westminster cuts have hit Scotland disproportionately hard – Liam Fox, when Defence Secretary, admitted this in his evidence to the Parliament.  The UK government has handed out 11,000 p45s to service personnel across the UK and slashed vital capability like maritime patrol aircraft. Service personnel levels in Scotland are at record lows.”

In June 2011 the then defence Secretary Liam Fox admitted to Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee that cuts in defence in Scotland had been far greater than those across the UK:

“… between 2000 and 2010, the total reduction was 11.6% but the reduction in Scotland was 27.9%. So over the decade there were bigger reductions made in personnel as a proportion than in other parts of the UK.”

A briefing paper published last week confirmed that the current UK Government has already made 11,000 service personnel redundant.

Mr Robertson said: “With independence, Scotland will have the opportunity to have a defence policy that prioritises our needs, including first class conventional forces.  The idea that Scotland would want to replicate what the UK has on a smaller scale is absurd – we obviously don’t want or need Trident.

“Independence will also allow us to be rid of these weapons of mass destruction which civic leaders, churches, trade unions and a vast majority of Scotland’s elected representatives want nothing to do with.”