Welcome for White Paper defence commitments
Defence proposals in the Scottish Government independence White Paper have been welcomed by SNP Westminster leader and defence spokesman Angus Robertson MP who has described them as a 'historic opportunity for improved conventional defence in Scotland and removing Trident'.
Significant details are outlined for the first time in the White Paper including: the transitional arrangements that the SNP Scottish Government would pursue after a 'Yes' vote, increasing to 15,000 the number of regular and 5,000 reserve forces and initial force structures, retention of current military bases, the procurement of Frigates and Maritime Patrol Aircraft and the removal of Trident submarines from Faslane. Spending on defence and security is also confirmed at £2.5bn per annum which is a significant increase on current UK conventional defence spending in Scotland, but also secures significant savings on Scottish tax contributions to the UK MOD.
Westminster SNP leader and defence spokesman Angus Robertson said:
'This White Paper offers a historic opportunity for improving conventional defence in Scotland and removing Trident.
'At its heart is a commitment to deliver the defence and security priorities of people in Scotland rather than leave it to Westminster governments that we often don't elect and make bad decisions on our behalf. Normal countries make defence decisions, and Scotland should too.
'The Scottish Government has provided an impressive amount of detail in the White Paper chapter on 'International Relations and Defence'. Plans are based on key domestic, regional and foreign policy priorities, and will deliver the appropriate conventional capabilities, providing security for Scotland, our neighbours and allies.
'There are very clear and welcome commitments to raising personnel numbers and conventional defence spending in Scotland, retaining military bases, widening capabilities including the procurement of Frigates and Maritime Patrol Aircraft and enhanced terms and conditions for servicemen and women.
'The Scottish Government is crystal clear on the speediest safest departure of nuclear submarines from the Clyde as a key priority with Faslane having an important future as Scotland’s main conventional naval base and Joint Forces Headquarters.
‘The White Paper stresses the importance of properly phasing personnel, organisational and capability changes. This is important for our national defence, but also for servicemen and women, their families and defence dependent communities. Currently serving personnel will be able to transfer to the Scottish Defence Force (SDF) and there will be significant improvements in terms and conditions of service.
‘This is great news for personnel and their families who want a long-term future in Scotland, able to make better decisions about their home life, schooling arrangements for their children and a more settled and enhanced career path in Scotland.
‘This White Paper explains why Scotland making better defence decisions is obviously better for Scotland, but it is also beneficial to our neighbours and allies. We will take our regional and collective security responsibilities seriously within NATO as a conventionally armed country.'