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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.