COMMONS

MPs discuss defence implications of a separate Scotland

12 September 2012

As part of its inquiry into a referendum on separation for Scotland, the Scottish Affairs Committee will be looking into the future of national defence and the defence industry in a separate Scotland.

Witnesses

At 2.30 pm, Wednesday 12 September, Committee Room 15, Palace of Westminster:

  • Professor William Walker, School of International Relations, University of St Andrews
  • Dr Phillips O'Brien, Scottish Centre for War Studies, University of Glasgow

Background

Ian Davidson MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

"Defence is a subject area where division and separation will definitely occur if Scotland leaves Britain.
It is clear that the British Army, the RAF, the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines will remain, that Scottish shipyards will close, and many other defence jobs will be lost. Almost everything else is unclear.

The committee will be identifying issues that need to be resolved before any vote takes place."

A major part of this is the question of the nuclear deterrent. It has been proposed that all the missiles, equipment and functions at Faslane – otherwise known as Her Majesty's Naval Base Clyde - would have to be relocated out of a Separate Scotland. The Committee recently visited Faslane to look at the implications of this for Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Faslane is the Royal Navy's main presence in Scotland, and the nation's nuclear deterrent is based there. More than 6,500 civilians and Service personnel are employed on the site. It provides a base port to the ships and submarines of the Faslane Flotilla and supports dozens of other visiting vessels each year. Faslane is currently the base for all the Vanguard-class submarines which are the platform for the UK's nuclear deterrent—the Trident missiles.

Ian Davidson MP, Chair of the Committee, also said:

"We have been told that Faslane's facilities could be replicated at an existing English naval base, but that the Royal Naval Armaments Depot at Coulport is unique in the UK - it is equipped with highly specialised and sensitive equipment for safely moving and storing missiles and warheads, and building a replacement could take a decade or more.
The timeline for Separation is much shorter than that – which could mean that effectively the UK’s nuclear weapons will be based in a foreign country for many years. There are also of course huge cost implications of making such a transition. Alternatively, unilateral nuclear disarmament could be imposed upon the rest of the UK by a separate Scotland. This week’s session follows up on these wider defence issues."

As background to this session, the Committee is also holding a wide ranging private briefing with the Defence Academy around the possible implications of separation for defence matters in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Further information

Image: PA

More news on: Defence, Parliament, government and politics, Devolution, Defence policy, Parliament, Commons news, Scotland, Committee news, Ballistic missile defence, Defence equipment and procurement, Scottish Parliament

Share this page