The SNP has revealed the UK Ministry of Defence is spending a staggering £1.35 billion per year operating overseas bases, at a time when Scottish bases are being shut down and both civilian and service personnel are at a record low.
The figure was revealed by Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey in response to a parliamentary question from SNP Defence spokesperson Angus Robertson MP.
With over twice as many service personnel now based overseas as there are in Scotland, Mr Robertson challenged the UK Government to confirm when troops would be returning from Germany, and how much of the £907 million that is currently spent in Germany would be spent in Scotland.
In July 2011 the former Defence Secretary Liam Fox gave assurances that “between 6,500 and 7,000, or something of that order, of the 20,000 personnel we currently have in Germany will be coming back to the multi-role brigades in Scotland.”
Mr Robertson said:
“This level of spend running overseas bases is staggering at a time when service and civilian personnel in Scotland are losing their jobs.
“The UK Governments has its defence priorities all wrong. Instead of increasing the conventional presence, protecting historic regiments and military capabilities in Scotland, it throws billions on its overseas bases, and billions more on weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde.
“The money spent operating overseas bases would provide thousands of defence jobs in Scotland. Instead we have reached record low levels of civilian and service personnel in Scotland after a decade of decline under successive UK governments.”
The £1.35billion sum covers bases in Cyprus, the South Atlantic Islands, Germany and Gibraltar. The annual running costs represent over a third of what Scottish taxpayers contribute to the MoD every year. Scotland’s contribution to running these bases amounts to over £114million, almost the same as the annual running cost of an RAF base.
Mr Robertson added: “Scotland’s defence footprint has been disproportionately cut over the last decade, with over 11,000 jobs lost and a £5.6 billion underspend which has seen the closure of bases and the creation of mammoth capability gaps.
“It’s a scandal that there are now twice as many staff based overseas than in Scotland. In Germany alone there are 5460 more service personnel than there are in the whole of Scotland.
“Last year the MoD said Scotland would be benefiting from the return of up to 7,000 personnel currently based in Germany, and investment in new purpose-built barracks at Kirknewton. We now know defence jobs continue to be cut and construction of the Kirknewton facility has been abandoned.”