We have identified over 650 questions and answers concerning many of the topics featured on this site. The information is categorised and can be reached by navigating via the entries below.

Information can also be retrieved using the Search box. This will search through the entire list of FAQ entries (in the Title and the Body) and will return results based on a match based on the words you input. If you wish, you may enter complete questions, e.g. "What currency would we use in an independent Scotland".


Deprecated: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in /home/customer/www/yeswecan.scot/public_html/libraries/fsj_core/third/smarty/sysplugins/smarty_internal_compilebase.php on line 88

International Relations and External Affairs

Our Relationship with the rest of the UK

What will the relationship be between an independent Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom?

Independence will enable Scotland to create a new and equal relationship with the other nations of these Isles. We will be able to update our partnership so that it meets the needs of the people of Scotland.

Under our proposals, we will keep our close links of family and friendship through an ongoing social union and will continue to share the Queen as head of state, as 16 Commonwealth countries already do, and we will share the pound as our currency.

Independence will end the parliamentary union so we will no longer send MPs to Westminster. Decisions about Scotland’s future and about our economy and society will be taken in Scotland. We will be equal partners within the European Union and the common defence partnership in NATO.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will independence mean that Scottish people require a passport to travel to England?

No. Just as no one from the UK needs a passport to travel to Ireland now, there will be free movement across the border between Scotland and England.

The Common Travel Area has existed since the 1920s and currently allows freedom of movement for nationals of the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. It will be in the interests of all partners for an independent Scotland to remain in the Common Travel Area.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Our Relationship with Europe

How will Scotland become an independent member of the European Union?

Following a vote for independence, the Scottish Government will immediately enter into negotiations with Westminster and EU member states to ensure that an independent Scotland achieves a smooth and timely transition to independent membership of the EU.

Scotland will negotiate the terms of membership of the EU during the period we are still part of the UK and, therefore, part of the EU. There is, within the EU Treaties, a legal framework by which Scotland, a country that has been an integral part of the EU for 40 years, may make the transition to independent EU membership in the period between the referendum and the date on which Scotland becomes an independent state. Article 48 provides a suitable legal route to facilitate the transition process, by allowing the EU Treaties to be amended through ordinary revision procedure before Scotland becomes independent, to enable it to become a member state at the point of independence.

There is no Treaty provision that would require Scotland to leave the EU on independence. It would also be against the self-interest of the EU collectively, and of the Member States individually, to seek to deprive Scotland of EU membership given that Scotland is an integral and highly valued part of the single market. Throughout its history the guiding principle of the EU has been enlargement of its membership, not contraction.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Why will an independent Scotland wish to be part of Europe?

Scotland has been a constituent part of the EU since the accession of the UK in 1973 and benefits greatly from the peace, security and economic opportunities provided by membership of the European Union. Over these 40 years Scotland’s economy and society have become an integral and fully integrated part of the EU single market.

The best way for Scotland to be represented in the EU is as an independent nation, with our own seat at the top table. This will allow Scottish Governments to represent Scotland’s interests in areas like fisheries, which have not been given sufficient priority by Westminster.

Scotland’s citizens enjoy freedom of movement and the right to work and study in other member states. The ability to trade within a single market of 500 million citizens is of central importance to our strategy to stimulate growth by increasing international trade. Around 158,000 EU citizens have also chosen to live and work or study in Scotland.

The European Union continues to be Scotland’s top overseas export destination – the value of exports destined for countries within the EU is estimated at £11 billion in 2011.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Is the proposed transition period between the referendum and becoming independent in March 2016 enough time for Scotland to become a recognised independent member state of the European Union?

Yes. Scotland already complies with EU laws, people in Scotland are already EU citizens and Scotland is already a member of the EU.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Would an independent Scotland’s voice in Europe be weaker or stronger?

Stronger. Scotland currently has a limited voice in Europe. The Scottish Government is permitted to make an input to Westminster discussions about EU proposals that impact on devolved matters, but Westminster is under no obligation to take account of the views of the Scottish Government when determining its position at EU-level negotiations.

Independence will give Scotland our own voice in Europe, participating at every level in the EU policy process and ensuring that Scottish governments are able to promote and protect Scotland’s national interests in EU affairs.

As an independent member state the Scottish Government will be able directly to promote our economic and social interests and protect our citizens by participating on equal terms with all other member states in EU affairs. Scottish Ministers would participate fully in meetings of the Council of the European Union and Scotland would have increased representation in the European Parliament, thereby increasing Scotland’s voice in the two legislative bodies of the EU.

Where Scotland’s interests coincide with the interests of the rest of the UK, together we will form a more powerful voice for action. When Scotland has a distinct view, we will have a new ability to build alliances and make our case, ensuring that what is right for the people of Scotland is heard.

The current Scottish Government firmly believes the only government capable of properly representing Scotland’s interests in the EU decision-making process is a government elected by, and directly accountable to, the people of Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will Scotland be forced to join the Euro?

No. In order to be considered for membership of the Eurozone, countries need to choose to include their currency in the Exchange Rate Mechanism II and there are no plans for Scotland to do this. No country can be forced to join the Euro against its will.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

When will Scotland begin negotiations to join the EU?

Following a vote for independence in the 2014 referendum, the Scottish Government will immediately enter into negotiations with Westminster and EU member states to ensure that an independent Scotland achieves a smooth and timely transition to independent membership of the European Union.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How long would the process of EU membership take?

The negotiations to secure the transition to independent EU membership will be conducted between the date of the vote on 18 September 2014 and 24 March 2016 when Scotland becomes an independent state. During this period Scotland will remain part of the UK.

These negotiations will include discussions to determine the specific terms, and where necessary any transitional arrangements, under which an independent Scotland will take its place as a full EU member state.

Scotland has been a member of the EU for 40 years and already complies with its body of law. The 18 month period between the referendum and the planned date of formal independence provides sufficient time for discussions settling an independent Scotland’s terms of EU membership. In the current context of devolution the Scottish Government has already demonstrated its capacity to transpose and implement the provisions of EU legislation.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How does this predicted timescale compare to the process for previous accession states?

Scotland will not be an accession state. We will negotiate the transition from being an EU member as part of the UK to becoming an independent member of the EU from within the EU. The predicted timescale compares well with the most similar sets of previous circumstances. For example, the transition to EU membership for East Germany during its reunification with West Germany took 11 months from the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will Scotland’s membership of the EU require the agreement of all member states?

Yes. The terms of Scotland’s membership will be agreed with the EU and the necessary Treaty amendments will be taken forward with the agreement of member states.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will an independent Scotland continue to qualify for a European rebate?

The EU budget has been agreed until 2020 and the Scottish Government will not seek to re-open budget discussions until the next funding cycle, at which point we will be negotiating as a full member state. Prior to 2020, the division of the share of the UK rebate will be a matter for agreement between the Scottish and Westminster Governments and the Scottish Government will argue for an equitable share.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What impact will the Conservative Party proposal to have a UK referendum on EU membership have?

It is the view of the current Scottish Government that the only real risk to Scotland’s membership of the EU is the referendum proposed by the Prime Minister.

The Scottish Government does not wish Scotland to leave the EU and does not support the Prime Minister’s plans to hold an in-out referendum on EU membership.

Following a vote for independence, Scotland will become an independent EU member state before the planned in-out referendum on the EU in 2017. However, if we do not become independent, we risk being taken out of the EU against our will.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Customs

Will independence have a negative effect on trade between Scotland and the rest of the UK and Europe?

No. As part of the EU, Scotland will remain part of the EU single market.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Membership of International Organisations and International Obligations

Would an independent Scotland become a member of NATO, the United Nations and other international organisations?

Following a vote for independence the Scottish Government will formally declare Scotland’s intention to become a member of NATO following normal procedures. Similarly we will also signal our intention to be a member of the United Nations at that time.

Given that Scotland, as part of the UK, already meets membership requirements, we do not expect any barriers to Scotland’s timely membership of international organisations.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How much would an independent Scotland contribute to the budgets of international organisations such as the United Nations?

Scotland’s contribution to the budgets of the United Nations and other international organisations would be agreed as part of the membership process for each organisation. It is important to remember that Scotland already contributes to the budgets of these organisations, through our taxes, as part of the UK’s contribution.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How would Scotland afford international organisation memberships?

Scotland already pays a share of the UK’s membership fees for international organisations. Other states of a similar size to – and smaller than – Scotland are members of international organisations. Our membership costs would be appropriate to our size and would be determined by the funding protocol for each organisation.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Would Scotland have a seat on the UN Security Council?

An independent Scotland would not expect to have a permanent seat on the Security Council. Like other nations, Scotland would from time to time be a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council according to the existing system of election for non-permanent members by the General Assembly.

The current Scottish Government would intend to support the rest of the UK remaining a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will independence make Scotland’s voice weaker or stronger internationally?

Stronger. Today, Scotland’s Government and Parliament do not have an automatic right to speak directly on the international stage. The fundamental advantage of independence in foreign affairs is the ability always to put Scotland’s interests first. Our overseas network of embassies and consulates will be working to promote Scotland’s interests, in particular to develop opportunities for trade and investment.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What principles would an independent Scotland follow in regard to foreign policy?

The current Scottish Government’s foreign, security and defence policies would be grounded in a clear framework of promoting sustainable economic growth, participating in rulesbased international co-operation to secure shared interests and protecting Scotland’s people and resources.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What international legal obligations that currently apply to the UK would an independent Scotland have to adhere to?

As an independent nation Scotland will continue to meet all legal obligations that flow from our membership of international organisations and treaties.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What will the status of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) be in an independent Scotland?

An independent Scotland will continue as a party to the UNCRC and would reflect the Convention’s principles in domestic legislation and policy.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Membership of NATO

Will Scotland be a member of NATO?

It is the intention of the current Scottish Government that Scotland will be a non-nuclear member of NATO. Following a vote for independence the Scottish Government will formally declare its intention to become a member of NATO. Given Scotland’s key strategic position in Europe, we expect Scotland to be welcomed as a valued partner.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Why would NATO want Scotland as a member?

Scotland is situated in a position of strategic importance, close to the Arctic channels of the High North and with the Atlantic Ocean to its west. An independent Scotland will therefore be a key partner in NATO’s air and naval policing arrangements for northern Europe, and it is in both Scotland’s and NATO’s interests for an independent Scotland to work closely with, and to be a member of, the alliance.

Comparable non-nuclear nations can and do make significant contributions to NATO operations and deploy capabilities that are proportionate but effective – for example Denmark has had a leading role in the delivery of anti-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa and both Norway and Denmark made significant contributions of air power to the operation in Libya.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Would Scotland look to participate fully in NATO activities with the exception of being a nuclear power?

An independent Scotland will take its NATO membership seriously. The present Scottish Government’s policy is that this will involve committing resources and contributing to NATO’s collective defence activities and humanitarian relief missions. At all times, Scotland will work within the UN and NATO charters.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Is membership of NATO consistent with removing nuclear weapons from Scotland?

Yes. The Scottish Government’s opposition to the possession of nuclear weapons is entirely consistent with the position of most NATO member states. Only three NATO members are nuclearweapon states and 20 out of the 28 current member states neither possess nor host nuclear weapons.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Would membership of the alliance result in NATO bases or activity being located in Scotland?

Scotland will seek to play a constructive role as a member of NATO and we intend that Scotland will participate in NATO exercises and training operations, as all members of the alliance do. There are no NATO bases in Scotland as part of the UK, so it is unlikely that there will be in an independent Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Why would an anti-nuclear Scotland wish to become a member of NATO as a nuclear alliance?

An independent Scotland working within NATO will be a positive contributor to international peace and security. This position would be similar to the majority of NATO member countries who neither possess nor host nuclear weapons.

NATO’s Strategic Concept states that the alliance is “resolved to seek a safer world and to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons” – an aim that the current Scottish Government shares.

Scotland’s membership of the alliance will bring significant benefits for defence and security co-operation within our region, and will demonstrate a clear commitment towards working in close, responsible and peaceful co-operation with Scotland’s neighbours and allies.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will NATO members with nuclear-armed vessels be allowed to enter Scottish waters or dock at Scottish ports?

It is our firm position that an independent Scotland should not host nuclear weapons and we would only join NATO on that basis.

While the presence of nuclear weapons on a particular vessel is never confirmed by any country, we would expect any visiting vessel to respect the rules that are laid down by the government of an independent Scotland.

While they are both strong advocates for nuclear disarmament, both Norway and Denmark allow NATO vessels to visit their ports without confirming or denying whether they carry nuclear weapons. We intend that Scotland will adopt a similar approach as Denmark and Norway in this respect.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Would Scotland provide forces to NATO as part of a collective defence (Article 5) operation?

Yes, subject to our domestic approval arrangements. As a NATO member, Scotland will support collective defence operations (Article 5 operations), in accordance with the UN Charter, where a member of the alliance is the subject of an armed attack.

In order for NATO to invoke Article 5, each member state must be in agreement. It is for each member state to decide and agree what role they take in any military response. No member state is compelled to take part in such operations.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Could NATO membership commit Scotland to taking part in military operations that it did not agree with?

No. It is for each member state to decide and agree what role they take in any military operation.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will NATO membership make it more difficult to secure the removal of Trident?

The removal of Trident nuclear weapons from Scotland will require negotiation with Westminster and liaison with NATO. But the aim of the current Scottish Government is clear – to secure the speediest safe removal of Trident from Scotland and to join the 20 (of 28) countries who are members of NATO without either possessing or hosting nuclear weapons.

We believe that a non-nuclear independent Scotland operating within NATO will be preferable, to the UK, NATO, and our other neighbours and allies, to a non-nuclear Scotland outside of the alliance.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How long will it take to join NATO?

Following a vote for independence in 2014, Scotland will notify NATO of its intention to become a member of the alliance in order to begin negotiations for Scotland’s transition to becoming an independent member of the alliance.

It will be for NATO to confirm the detailed arrangements and timetable for Scotland’s transition towards membership as an independent country.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Have there been discussions with NATO about Scotland’s membership?

Yes. The Scottish Government has opened contact with NATO regarding an independent Scotland’s membership of the organisation.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Foreign Policy and Representation

How would an independent Scotland represent itself internationally through embassies and consulates?

An independent Scotland’s overseas network will be comparable to that of other nations of a similar size. The current Scottish Government’s proposed overseas representation for an independent Scotland is set out in Chapter 6. A crucial part of the role of our overseas offices will be to look for opportunities to promote Scottish goods and services directly. The Team Scotland approach will be built on and with independence our government departments, the private sector and our diplomatic missions will work together to promote Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will diplomatic missions be shared between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK?

An independent Scotland will be represented overseas by a network which works in the national interests of Scotland. The current Scottish Government is open to the sharing of services and facilities with the rest of the UK or with other countries where this is of mutual benefit. Such arrangements already exist between the UK and other nations, such as Canada.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Would an independent Scotland recruit staff from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Scottish foreign and diplomatic service?

The Scottish Government will ensure that all its services are provided by qualified staff, who may have a range of backgrounds and experience. Recruitment opportunities may arise from existing open recruitment policies and the possibility of inward transfers, where that is appropriate.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What size would the foreign and diplomatic service be in an independent Scotland?

The current Scottish Government estimates the running costs of its initial proposed network of 70 to 90 overseas offices at £90-120 million. This is expected to be below Scotland’s population share of the UK’s total expenditure on overseas representation in 2016/17. Scotland would also be entitled to a fair share of the value of assets.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How would an independent Scotland’s diplomatic interests be represented in the period before it established its own diplomatic missions?

The existing Scottish Development International (SDI) network of 27 overseas offices provides a firm foundation for independent Scottish international representation. Over the past five years SDI has increased Scotland’s presence in emerging markets in the Middle East and Asia. The current Scottish Government proposes that the existing SDI network remains following independence, co-locating with the new diplomatic and consular services. Where SDI is currently located in a country but not in its capital city, a Scottish embassy or political mission would be established to supplement and complement the work of the trade offices.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

When will an independent Scotland have its own diplomatic missions up and running?

The Scottish Government intends that Scotland will have an overseas network in place from day one of independence, building on our existing overseas offices and an appropriate share of existing UK assets.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How will I get help abroad if I am Scottish?

If I get stuck in Spain, will you rescue me? An independent Scotland will establish a network of overseas offices which will provide the same range of support and assistance to Scots abroad as currently provided by the UK. In addition, as EU citizens, Scots will have the right to request consular assistance from all other EU member states, including the UK.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Under Scottish Government proposals to allow dual nationality, would people living in Scotland claiming dual Scottish/British nationality be allowed to call on the support of British embassies and consulates abroad?

As EU citizens, Scots would have the right to request consular assistance from all other member states, including the UK. If travelling on their British passport, people with dual nationality would be entitled to call on the support of the British embassy or consulate, just as a person with dual Scottish and Irish citizenship could choose to travel on their Irish passport and request assistance from the Irish embassy or consulate.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

International Development

How much will an independent Scotland spend on international development?

This is currently decided at Westminster and Scotland contributes to this spending through taxation. In an independent Scotland it will be decided by governments elected by the people of Scotland.

The current Scottish Government is committed to spending 0.7 per cent Gross National Income (GNI) on Official Development Assistance. The current Scottish Government also proposes to bring forward legislation to enshrine this as a binding target. Over the longer-term, we would work towards spending 1 per cent of GNI on aid.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How could an independent Scotland afford that level of funding for international development? Is this an affordable commitment?

This is one of the immediate priorities of the current Scottish Government for the first budget of an independent Scotland – the budget priorities of the current Government, and the proposed actions to raise revenue and reduce spending to support these priorities, are set out in Part 2 of this document. To put it in context, meeting our international aid obligation of 0.7 per cent of GNI will amount to just 70p out of every £100 of GNI. As well as the existing £9 million Scottish Government aid budget, Scottish taxes currently contribute to the UK international aid budget. The Westminster Government has committed to meet the target of 0.7 per cent of GNI within this financial year.

The 0.7 per cent target is calculated as a percentage of a country’s GNI, therefore the size of the country is not relevant – the target is to spend an appropriate share of that GNI. As a country’s economy becomes richer or poorer, so its contribution rises or falls.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What impact will independence have on existing Department for International Development programmes?

The Scottish Government intends to work with the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) to ensure that there is a smooth transition phase for programmes on the ground in developing countries. There will be continued funding support, where appropriate, to those DFID programmes which span the independence period to avoid any disruption to those programmes and their recipients. International Development is just one of the areas where future Scottish and Westminster governments can choose to work together to complement each other’s activity. Scotland is likely to also be a significant donor to multilateral organisations reflecting similar priorities as the UK in this area.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How can the Scottish Government justify spending money on international development – why aren’t we spending this money at home?

In 2012, an estimated 6.6 million children under the age of five – 18,000 a day – died from mostly preventable diseases. This huge preventable loss of life remains an urgent global problem which must be taken seriously.

Scotland is one of the wealthiest nations in the world and one of the purposes of independence is to make sure that wealth works better for the people who live here. However, we also recognise our wider international responsibilities and believe that investment in development internationally is the right thing to do.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

At the moment, the Scottish Government’s international development funding goes directly to Scottish-based organisations and not directly to governments. Will this change if Scotland becomes independent?

It is the view of the current Scottish Government that funding through civil society should remain a dominant feature of future Scottish development programmes.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

To which countries would an independent Scotland provide international development funding?

These would be decisions for governments elected by the people of Scotland.

The current Scottish Government would consider this as we approach independence, with the Human Development Index as a central criterion in that decision-making process. We expect a geographically focussed aid policy in line with developing best practice and will develop open and objective criteria for the selection of partner countries. Ultimately, these decisions will be for the government of the day, but we hope to secure a degree of consensus regarding the criteria used to select partner countries to ensure stable and effective long-term partnerships with a small number of countries.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will an independent Scotland focus on gender equality as part of international development?

Women and girls make up the majority of the world’s poor and bear a disproportionate share of the burden of poverty and responsibility for caring for others. This Government is doing everything we can to promote equality in Scotland and we would want an independent Scotland’s international policies to do the same.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How will the focus on gender equality work in practice?

Gender equality and the empowerment of women are United Nations Millennium Development Goals in their own right. They are also critical to the delivery of other key development goals including in education and health. It would therefore be right for an independent Scotland to put gender equality at the heart of its development work.

The present Scottish Government would ensure that policies put in place will be in line with international commitments and recognised good practice on gender equality.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How will Scottish people know that money being spent overseas by the Scottish Government is making an impact?

Scottish Governments will report to the Scottish Parliament regularly on Scotland’s development impact.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How will we know that the ‘Do No Harm’ approach is being implemented?

To provide policy coherence and as an expression of the values driving our foreign policy, we propose that Scottish Government policies, on all issues, will do no harm to developing countries, will not undermine our international development aims and will ideally contribute to international development success. This Government is committed to reporting to the Scottish Parliament on a regular basis on Scotland’s development impact, including on our commitment to deliver a ‘Do No Harm’ approach.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Defence and Security in an Independent Scotland

Defence and Security

What opportunities will independence bring to Scotland in terms of defence and security?

Independence will enable Scotland to:

  • set its own defence and security budget and maintain strong conventional defence forces to protect its people, territory, seas, airspace and national interests

  • decide, with appropriate democratic oversight and respect for international law, the circumstances in which its forces are deployed overseas

  • work closely with its partners – including the rest of the UK – to address global issues and contribute to international peace-keeping

  • build a security and intelligence agency that is fit for purpose in the 21st century and is proportionate to, and reflects a full strategic assessment of, Scotland’s needs

  • legislate for, control, and oversee national security arrangements in Scotland, ensuring the constitutional rights of the Scottish people

The Scottish Government is committed to working closely with our neighbours – especially our partners across the British Isles, our trading partners, through bilateral relations with other nations and in key international institutions such as the European Union, NATO and the United Nations.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What security risks would an independent Scotland face?

Threats that countries face in the modern world tend to be international in nature. In common with other countries, an independent Scotland will require to work with partners to protect itself against international terrorism, cyber-crime and cyber-terrorism, threats that come from global instability and failed states, and international serious organised crime. Scotland will be able to build on the strong relationships we already have to promote security at home and abroad.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What will Scotland’s overall defence and security policy be?

The Scottish Government’s policy is for an independent Scotland to have defence and security capabilities that will, firstly, secure our territory, seas and airspace, our people and our national interests.

In light of Scotland’s geography and interests, we will also have the opportunity to develop niche capabilities to support humanitarian operations, search and rescue, and other specialist land or maritime functions. These niche capabilities will support Scotland’s own defence needs and also contribute to international partnerships and wider global efforts to secure peace and security.

The Scottish Government proposes to create Scotland’s own domestic security and intelligence machinery sitting alongside our police service. This will see Scotland’s national security arrangements being legislated for, controlled, and overseen in Scotland for the first time.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Can an independent Scotland afford appropriate defence and security capabilities?

These capabilities can be delivered from our planned annual defence and security budget of £2.5 billion. Comparable countries in Europe generally spend around 1.5 per cent of GDP on defence. In 2011/12, 1.5 per cent of Scotland’s GDP was around £2.3 billion. An independent Scotland will have the right forces to defend the country properly and secure us against any threat we meet, working with our partners and allies.

With independence, Scotland will actually save on defence spending. Current UK defence policy – including spending on Trident – will cost the Scottish taxpayer £3 billion a year by 2016/17, although considerably less than this is actually spent in Scotland by Westminster.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What do you expect the implications will be for the rest of the UK in terms of defence and security?

It will be in the interests of Scotland and the rest of the UK to continue to work closely together to ensure the security of both countries. The UK will have a serious security partner in Scotland with effective capabilities meeting Scotland’s needs and playing its part within NATO.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What defence and security assets would an independent Scotland look to inherit during independence negotiations?

Scotland and the rest of the UK will negotiate to ensure the proper defence and security of both countries from the date of independence. It will be in both countries’ interests that this should be the basis of a constructive and enduring partnership in the months and years that follow.

The priority will be for Scotland to secure the land, air and maritime capabilities – personnel and assets – that are required to protect our territory, people and national interests. This will include negotiations on a number of assets that are currently based in Scotland, as well as negotiation on capabilities that are located elsewhere, such as surface ships, air transport and other land, air and maritime equipment and expertise. The assets that the Scottish Government proposes an independent Scotland’s army, navy, air and special forces will have are set out in Chapter 6.

Scotland has invested, as part of the UK, in significant intelligence-gathering capabilities and would expect that investment to be recognised in the arrangements that will be developed.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Nuclear Weapons and Disarmament

Will an independent Scotland sign the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)?

Yes. It is the present Scottish Government’s priority, as a good global citizen, to support and promote nuclear disarmament. That is the right thing for any responsible government to do. We look forward to the opportunity for Scotland to add our name to those states that have ratified the Treaty, and to take forward our obligations in creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Would you sign/ratify the NPT if/while Trident nuclear weapons were still based at Faslane?

Yes. We have made a clear commitment to secure the speediest safe withdrawal of Trident from Scotland following independence.

Scotland’s ratification of the NPT will not rely on the detailed arrangements for the withdrawal of Trident..

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Would the removal of Trident from Scotland result in its decommissioning?

It is the Scottish Government’s preference to see Trident decommissioned, but that will be a matter for the government of the rest of the UK.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How long will it take to remove Trident from Scotland and who will bear the cost?

Nuclear weapons have been based in Scotland for almost half a century, despite the long-standing majority opposition of the people of Scotland. In addition, Scottish taxpayer contributions to Trident spending could support many more public sector jobs in Scotland than the weapons system currently brings to the Clyde, and every year therefore Scotland loses out because of the continuance of Trident nuclear weapons.

The detailed process and timetable for removal would be a priority for negotiation between the Scottish Government and the government of the rest of the UK. However, following a vote for independence, we would make early agreement on removal of nuclear weapons a priority. This would be with a view to the removal of Trident within the first term of the Scottish Parliament following independence.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Defence Forces in an Independent Scotland

Will Scotland have its own army, navy and air force?

Yes. Scotland will have its own military forces – army, navy and air force. We are committed to an independent Scotland also sharing capability with other countries through membership of NATO and other defence co-operation agreements.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What size would defence forces be in an independent Scotland?

Decisions on the size of the armed forces in an independent Scotland will be made by the Parliament and Government of an independent Scotland. The current Scottish Government believes that armed forces should build to a total of 15,000 service personnel with a reserve of 5,000 over the first 10 years of independence.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What tasks will Scottish defence forces be expected to undertake?

Under the Scottish Government’s proposals, the main tasks for Scottish defence forces, working with other parts of government and its international partners, will be:

  • securing Scotland’s borders, land, airspace and sea, deterring attacks and protecting our citizens and assets from threat

  • protecting Scotland’s national interests and economic well being, alongside the key values and underlying principles that support Scottish society and our way of life. This task would include supporting other parts of government when necessary, for example in case of natural disasters or other national emergencies

  • contributing to the protection and promotion of human rights, the rule of law, democratic values, international peace and security and Scotland’s national interests as a good global citizen

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Wouldn’t an independent Scotland’s defence forces be less sophisticated than at present?

No. Independence will give Scotland the opportunity to develop specific defence capabilities that better meet Scotland’s needs and circumstances. In some areas that could mean developing capabilities that the UK currently does not have, such as maritime patrol aircraft. In other instances there are capabilities that the UK has now that Scotland would neither need nor want – such as nuclear weapons

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What army will an independent Scotland have?

The Scottish Government proposes that Scotland will have land forces incorporating infantry, light-armoured reconnaissance, and marine units, together with an army HQ function and supporting engineering, aviation, logistics and medical units. A special forces unit will also be established. Over time further capacity will be developed which can contribute to international operations.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What air force will an independent Scotland have?

Under the Scottish Government’s proposals, Scotland will have an air force that can monitor and protect Scotland’s airspace and provide transport and other support to its other armed services. Over time, capabilities will be developed that can contribute to international operations in partnership with its allies.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Would an independent Scotland be able to maintain sophisticated air defence capabilities, as expected by NATO partners?

Yes. Other countries of a similar size to Scotland support capable fast jets for air defence. For example, all of the Nordic countries, plus others countries such as Belgium, maintain fast jets for air defence.

Scotland has fully contributed to the development of the UK’s air defence capability, which is embedded in wider NATO arrangements. Scotland will therefore inherit aspects of this resource as part of the post-referendum negotiation process. It will continue to be in the interests of the rest of the UK and an independent Scotland to work closely together on air defence, within NATO.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Where will Scotland’s air force be based?

Given that the transfer of Typhoons from Leuchars will have been largely completed before the referendum, Lossiemouth will continue to be a main operating base for fast jet aircraft and Scotland’s air policing capability. The Scottish Government will negotiate with Westminster to establish the joint facilities it would be in the interests of both countries to maintain there.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What navy will an independent Scotland have?

Scotland is a nation with strong interests in its maritime environment and will need capabilities to monitor and protect our maritime interests. Over time, Scotland will also be able to develop additional capabilities that will enable us to contribute to international operations in partnership with allies, as other small nations do.

We plan that initial capabilities, which we will negotiate from within Scotland’s share of defence assets, will include two Type 23 frigates. We will also seek to secure smaller offshore patrol vessels and a number of inshore fast patrol boats.

This Scottish Government will prioritise the procurement of four new frigates, preferably through joint procurement with the rest of the UK. Two of these will be ordered in the first parliamentary term of independence and when built will bring the number of frigates in the Scottish Navy to four (the two new frigates as well as the inherited Type 23s). The Scottish Government believes that is the appropriate number of frigates in the longer term, and will order the further two frigates in time to replace the Type 23s when they are retired from service.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What special forces will an independent Scotland have?

An independent Scotland could have special forces able to contribute fully to the maintenance of security. We aim to work closely with allies to maintain relevant capabilities. Scotland has a long tradition of contribution to the UK’s special forces on which to build and we can also see from the very capable forces developed by other small countries that it is entirely possible for countries of Scotland’s size to maintain the special forces that it requires. Norway is particularly notable for the high reputation of its special forces. It is our intention to have in place, as a priority and from the point of independence, a core special forces unit which will be built upon over time.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Where will Scottish defence forces be based?

This Government’s intention is that all of the main defence bases inherited at the point of independence will be retained as they will, following a transitional period, be needed by Scotland’s defence forces.

The current Scottish Government will also be open to discussion with the Westminster Government about continued arrangements for shared basing where that is in the joint interests of both countries.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What naval vessels will be based at Faslane in an independent Scotland?

We plan that Faslane will be an independent Scotland’s main conventional navy base, and will also be home to the HQ for the navy and the Joint Forces HQ for all of Scotland’s armed forces.

As a navy base, Faslane will be the main base for Scotland’s major naval vessels. This will be an improvement as no major surface ships are currently stationed in Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will the armament depot at Coulport remain?

Our commitment is to securing the earliest safe withdrawal of Trident from an independent Scotland. This includes the removal of all elements of the current system, including the missiles and warheads which are stored for the Vanguard submarine fleet at Coulport.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Would an independent Scotland continue to allow Faslane to host non-nuclear armed Royal Navy submarines, such as the Astute and Trafalgar, which are nuclear-powered?

Our priority for Faslane will be to ensure the speediest and safest possible transition to its future as a conventional naval base serving the defence needs of an independent Scotland. This transition will require detailed discussion with the Government of the rest of the UK on a range of issues.

The Scottish Government strongly favours a conventional approach to Scotland’s defence, with Faslane being Scotland’s main conventional naval base. We do not see the continued basing of the Astute or Trafalgar fleets at Faslane, beyond the necessary transition period, to be in Scotland’s interests. The Westminster Government has signalled its intention to locate all of the Royal Navy’s submarine fleet at a single base. The current proposal is for this to be HMNB Clyde. In the event of independence, it would be for the rest of the UK to decide whether to relocate its submarine fleet to the Royal Navy submarine base at HMNB Devonport or to another location.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What will happen if the Westminster Government does not allow for the transfer of any of its armed forces personnel?

The detailed arrangements for the transfer of military posts and personnel to Scottish control will be subject to agreement between the Scottish and Westminster Governments. The Westminster Government has pledged to respect the result of the referendum and to work constructively with the Scottish Government, in the interests of the people of Scotland and the rest of the UK. That will include working constructively in the interests of armed forces personnel and their families.

It is in the interests of both Scotland and the rest of the UK that the development and transition of both the rest of the UK armed forces and the Scottish armed forces happens smoothly.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Would Scots personnel currently serving in UK forces be forced to join the Scottish armed forces?

No. The Scottish Government respects the service of current personnel and will take a responsible approach to the transfer of personnel to Scottish defence forces.

In the event of a vote for independence, the detailed arrangements for the transfer of military posts and personnel to Scottish control will be subject to agreement with the rest of the UK. In relation to the army, the Scottish Government’s starting point in those negotiations will be the transfer of those units mainly recruited in Scotland. We also believe that current personnel affected by these changes should be given a choice on the armed forces in which they wish to serve.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What about non-Scots currently serving in ‘Scottish units’?

We believe that serving personnel should have a choice over the armed forces in which they serve. The Scottish Government greatly respects all of those who serve in the armed forces and we demonstrate that commitment through the way we work to support armed forces communities in Scotland – work recognised as second to none in the UK. Just as individuals from many different nationalities serve in UK armed forces, so too would this Scottish Government welcome current UK service personnel into the future defence forces of an independent Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will a Scottish defence force be attractive to both current and potential future personnel?

Scotland has a fine and longstanding tradition of providing more than its proportionate share of personnel to the UK armed forces.

Given the uncertainty that Westminster is currently creating for its armed forces personnel, it is likely that many may choose the new opportunities that Scottish defence forces will bring. Indeed, smaller armed forces – with a range of niche capabilities such as those that an independent Scotland could offer – will provide better career opportunities than those available in a larger military that is in a process of contraction. That will be enhanced by the commitment that this Scottish Government has already made that service personnel should not face compulsory redundancy during the term of their service contract.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What will the terms and conditions of Scotland’s armed forces be?

This Scottish Government intends to offer terms and conditions at least as good as those offered by the UK currently. In addition, the current Scottish Government, unlike Westminster, has made the commitment that no service personnel should be faced with compulsory redundancy during the term of their service contract.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will being independent protect Scottish defence jobs?

Currently just 7.5 per cent of UK-based MoD personnel – both military and civilian – are based in Scotland, which is less than Scotland’s 8.4 per cent share of the UK population. Over the first ten years of independence this Scottish Government proposes that numbers will rise from around 11,310 regular service personnel currently based in Scotland to 15,000.

In recent history, there has been a disproportionate reduction of defence jobs in Scotland – for example, the number of military and civilian MoD personnel in Scotland has dropped by around 38 per cent since 2000, compared with a fall of just 24 per cent across the UK.

While the fundamental basis for defence and security policy must be defence and security requirements, it is legitimate to maximise the economic impact of defence spending. With regard to defence procurement, recent figures confirm that, for procurement exempt from EU competition laws, Scotland benefits by considerably less than its population share. Between 2007/08 and 2011/12, Scotland received £3.17 billion out of £60 billion of these UK defence contracts. Had Scotland benefitted in line with its population share, it would have received approximately. £5.04 billion over the period. As a result, Scotland received approximately £1.9 billion less than its estimated population share.

The Scottish Government expects that the proportion of the budget allocated for procurement of single use military equipment will be at least equivalent to that currently allocated by the Westminster Government (14 per cent in 2012/13).

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will current MoD jobs be secure in an independent Scotland?

Yes. The MoD employs 15,340 people in Scotland (around 11,310 service and 4,020 civilian personnel). However, between 2000 and 2013 numbers employed by the MoD in Scotland have fallen disproportionately – by around 38 per cent, compared to just 24 per cent across the UK.

The MoD is currently failing to meet the commitment it made in 2011 to increase the military footprint in Scotland and successive Westminster governments have reduced the number of defence jobs in Scotland.

An independent Scotland will be better able to prioritise its defence capabilities, to secure jobs in Scotland and to ensure sustainable and appropriate defence spending levels.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How will an independent Scotland support employment levels similar to those currently available at Faslane?

There are currently 6,700 military and civilian personnel at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, Faslane and Coulport. Retaining Faslane as a fully operational naval base, with the addition of a Joint Forces HQ, will sustain existing military personnel numbers at the base. Significant civilian posts will also be needed to support these operations and, there will be construction work required to reshape Faslane to the needs of conventional Scottish defence forces.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will there be Ministry of Defence civilian job losses in Scotland as a result of Scotland becoming independent?

No. The current Scottish Government proposes to work with the Westminster Government to preserve continuity of employment for all staff either by way of transfer to the Scottish Government or through continued employment with the Westminster Government.

The current Scottish Government has a strong record of valuing public services in Scotland and is operating a policy of no compulsory redundancies within the public sector for which it currently has devolved responsibility.

The Westminster Government has not made any similar commitment within its own areas of responsibility. Between 2000 and 2013 Scotland saw a disproportionate decline in the number of MoD civilian staff based here – down from 9,600 to 4,020. That represents a loss of just under 60 per cent.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Impact of Defence and Security Policies on Defence Industry

How will defence policies be used to help economic growth in an independent Scotland?

The priority for defence procurement will be to ensure Scotland’s security. However, like all countries, Scotland will get the best deal on any defence requirements by competing for contracts in both domestic and export markets.

Scotland does not currently get value for money in defence procurement as part of the UK. For example, for defence work awarded within the UK for reasons of national security, Westminster Government statistics show that the MoD has committed just £3.17 billion to Scotland of a total UK spend of £60 billion over the five years to 2011/12 – a shortfall of about £1.9 billion on what would have been an appropriate share.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will Scottish Governments in an independent Scotland be able to protect defence industry jobs?

Yes. Following a vote for independence, the Scottish Government and its agencies Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Development International will continue to support Scotland’s indigenous defence industries in existing, new and emerging markets.

We plan to make sure we have all of the defence capabilities we need. Our policy is for Scotland to work in partnership, build the necessary alliances and work with international agencies – such as the NATO ‘Smart Defence Initiative’ – which will allow Scotland to align our defence requirements with the collective needs and priorities of NATO allies.

The Scottish Government expects that the proportion of the budget allocated for procurement of single use military equipment will be at least equivalent to that currently allocated by the Westminster Government (14 per cent in 2012/13).

In addition, many of our defence sector companies are already successfully competing in international markets and will continue to grow their business in their traditional areas of expertise and in developing areas of business. For example, whilst refit and ship repair is still core work for Babcock Rosyth, the company is currently enhancing its position within the offshore energy and marine services markets, such as the £30 million order that BP placed for 70 subsea structures in January 2013.

The Scotland Institute’s paper on ‘Defence and Security in an Independent Scotland’ outlines key areas in which the Scottish Government can help the diverse defence industries in Scotland to grow, including through investment in R&D, support for our niche strengths in high technology areas such as defence electronics, and science and innovation funding to maintain our global reputation.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Will Scottish shipyards and other defence sectors have Scottish defence contracts to bid for?

Yes. If in government in an independent Scotland, we will prioritise the procurement of four new frigates, preferably through joint procurement with the rest of the UK. Two of these will be ordered in the first parliamentary term of independence and when built will bring the number of frigates in the Scottish Navy to four (the two new frigates as well as the inherited Type 23s). The Scottish Government believes that is the appropriate number of frigates in the longer term, and will order the further two frigates in time to replace the Type 23s when they are retired from service.

Scotland’s shipyards are amongst the most competitive and technologically advanced in the world. The MoD recognised this by awarding BAE Systems in Glasgow the £127 million contract to work on the initial design for the Type 26.

Defence companies are used to working within changing international parameters, and will continue to do so within an independent Scotland. The Scottish Government’s plans for a transition to independence aim to ensure the minimum of disruption, however, while new departments, regulatory frameworks and systems are put in place.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What would be the impact of independence on existing MoD contracts awarded to Scottish based companies?

Independence will not impact on existing contracts, as contracts are offered to companies, not countries. Companies have been awarded contracts on the basis of their ability to deliver quality products within required timescales and budgets. The MoD places contracts with companies in Korea – there is no reason that it would not do so with companies in Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Could Scottish companies bid for MoD contracts after independence?

Scottish companies will be able to bid for any MoD contracts that are put out to competitive tender so UK military orders could, and should, still come to Scotland. Scotland’s indigenous and global companies have the expertise to win UK and worldwide orders. There is also nothing in article 346 that would prevent the Westminster Government placing contracts exempt from EU Procurement rules in Scotland.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What would an independent Scottish Government do to support Scottish companies to win contracts in export markets?

Scottish shipyards have proved time and again that they have the skills, expertise and flexibility to build and maintain complex warships for the international market. We aim to increase Scottish opportunities and jobs through independence. There is no reason that Scotland would not attract a healthy order book.

Defence companies are strongly supported in Scotland: Scottish Enterprise provides funding for a great number of development programmes, and Scottish Development International provides targeted product support into new and emerging markets. Independence would not change this.

Many partners use manufacturing and design from other countries. For example, shipbuilders across Europe often receive orders from foreign countries – French companies make ships for Russia; a UK company has made frigates for Malaysia; Westminster has recently given a contract for MoD vessels to a Korean company. This Government’s priority is to make sure that any company based in Scotland can compete in global defence markets.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

How will Scotland develop its own national security regulations?

Defence is among the most regulated of all industrial sectors, with security an important element. The Scottish Government is committed to working with NATO, the EU and the United States on key issues relating to intelligence, technologies and military/ industry relations through a period of transition. We will negotiate on behalf of the interests of Scotland’s companies to ensure arrangements are in place which support them in winning defence contracts.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

Defence is among the most regulated of all industrial sectors, with security an important element. The Scottish Government is committed to working with NATO, the EU and the United States on key issues relating to intelligence, technologies and military/ i

There are many Scottish-owned or based companies that have a long track record of working with the MoD on sensitive contracts and are already designated as ‘List X’ sites. This means that they have the necessary security clearance to hold information with a security marking of confidential or above.

The Scottish Government will negotiate with the Westminster Government to ensure that these arrangements continue and enable work to continue on contracts vital to the security of the Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.

What other departments would Scotland require to support defence industries?

Scotland’s defence companies spend a great deal on research and development (R&D), as would be expected in a country known for its innovation and engineering excellence. To support this work we intend that the government of an independent Scotland will take forward work currently undertaken at a UK level to maximise the impact of science and technology for the defence and security of Scotland, including independent advice on our R&D programmes.

Source: Scotland's Future, Scottish Government, November 2013.