MoD refuse to rule-out regimental cuts

The UK Defence Secretary has refused to rule-out the further amalgamation and disbandment of Scottish raised defence units after the SNP pressed the MoD over the disproportionate defence cuts Scotland has endured over the last decade.

In response to SNP Westminster leader and Defence spokesperson Angus Robertson MP, the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: “...we are going to have a smaller army. You can’t have a smaller army without some structural changes, and I will make an announcement to the House as soon as I am able about the structure of Army 2020.”

Following the recently-announced disbandment of 40 Regiment, the Lowland Gunners, more than one-third of the nine Scottish-raised battalions in the army – are under threat from the Tory/Lib Dem coalition.

Mr Robertson said:

“Philip Hammond refusal to rule-out further amalgamation or disbandment of Scottish raised units is a further betrayal of promises by the Tories when they were in opposition that they would reinstate Scottish army units.

“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.

“Taxpayers in Scotland contribute more than £3.3bn a year to the MOD, but only £2bn is spent on defence in Scotland – and we are still bearing the brunt of UK Government cuts.

“With independence, we will keep the current unit names and tradition - and should the worst happen and these units be scrapped by the Tories, an SNP Government in an independent Scotland will reinstate them as part of a modern, properly equipped, conventional Scottish Defence Force.

“Instead of the anti-independence parties scrapping Scotland's regimental tradition and dumping Trident on Scotland, with independence we will keep the historic units and get rid of Trident."

Note:

1. A transcript of Mr Robertson’s exchange with the Defence Secretary is set out below:

Angus Robertson MP: “Taxpayers in Scotland contribute more than £3.3bn a year to the MOD, but only £2bn is spent on defence in Scotland. The Secretary of State’s predecessor Liam Fox acknowledged that “between 2000 and 2010, the total reduction [in service jobs] was 11.6% but the reduction in Scotland was 27.9%. Given the disproportionate personnel cuts and the defence underspend in Scotland will Secretary of State rule out further amalgamation or disbandment of Scottish raised units?”

Philip Hammond MP: “... I will tell him frankly, we are going to have a smaller army. You can’t have a smaller army without some structural changes, and I will make an announcement to the House as soon as I am able about the structure of Army 2020.”

2. Mr Robertson had been highlighting an admission by the previous Defence Secretary Liam Fox at the Scottish Affairs Select Committee on 7 June 2011 that Scotland had endured disproportionate defence cuts. Dr Fox said: “I am aware of the fact that, between 2000 and 2010, the total reduction [in service jobs] was 11.6% but the reduction in Scotland was 27.9%, so over the decade there were bigger reductions made in personnel as a proportion than in other parts of the UK.”