MoD pressed ahead of regiments debate

The SNP have called for the Defence Secretary to end the uncertainty and personally respond to a debate this week, secured by the SNP, on the future of Scottish recruited units.

The debate, secured by Perth and North Perthshire MP, Pete Wishart, who represents the home of the Black Watch, will be the first opportunity for the MoD to respond to concerns over the future of the defence units.

Reports over the weekend suggest the Prime Minister has ordered the Defence Secretary to perform a u-turn on further amalgamation or disbandment out of fear that it will boost support for independence.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Mr Wishart called for answers over the future of capabilities as well names and cap badges, and highlighted official figures showing that less than 3 per cent of regular army units are now stationed in Scotland.

A parliamentary answer secured by the SNP shows:
-Scotland has only 4 of 148 major regular army units based in its territory -That represents only 2.7% of the entire British Army, yet Scotland has 8.4% of the UK’s population and makes up 32% of the UK’s landmass.
-There are 36 units permanently based overseas – these units are not on operations. There are 9 times as many units based overseas than there are permanently based in Scotland.

Mr Wishart said:

“The UK Government is creating real uncertainty for Scotland’s defence communities, and the Defence Secretary must personally respond to this week’s debate.

“After refusing to rule-out cuts to our historic units last week, the Defence Secretary has now, apparently, been overruled by the Prime Minister because of fears these cuts will boost support for independence.

“David Cameron’s demands demonstrate the positive impact of support for the SNP. The Prime Minister has recognised the people of Scotland will not accept Westminster running-down this country’s defence capabilities.

“The Defence Secretary has serious questions to answer – particularly given the promises by the Tories when they were in opposition that they would reinstate Scottish army units.

“As the MoD have just confirmed, less than 3 per cent of regular army units are now stationed in Scotland – that is just 4 of 148 major regular army units.

“The decimation of Scotland’s conventional defence capacity under successive Westminster governments cannot go unchallenged – enough is enough.

“In contrast to the need for a well funded conventional defence presence in Scotland, the reality is completely the opposite. For over a decade Scotland has been short changed, losing more than 11,000 defence jobs and enduring a £5.6billion underspend.

“Given the disproportionate personnel cuts and the defence underspend that Scotland has already endured, the UK Government must abandon any plans that would threaten the future of our historic units.”