The Referendum on Separation for Scotland: A Defence Force for Scotland-A Conspiracy of Optimism? - Scottish Affairs Committee Contents

1  Introduction

1.  The question of how Scotland, post Separation, would choose to defend itself must be absolutely clear before any vote as to whether Scotland leaves, or remains within, the UK is cast. It is the absolute duty of a sovereign country to defend itself, its people and its interests. It is, to an extent, an assertion of nationhood in itself. The Scottish Government paper published in 2009, Your Scotland, Your Voice, listed some of the reserved matters "seen as fundamental to the state". These included "the Head of State, citizenship, foreign affairs, and defence and security."[1] We agree, and that is why defence matters are central to the debate about whether Scotland leaves the UK.

2.  In October 2011, we launched two distinct strands of inquiry into the Referendum on Separation for Scotland, the first into the mechanics and process of the referendum itself,[2] and the second examining the potential impact of separation on key substantive issues. We published three Reports on the implications of separation for defence matters in Scotland: Terminating Trident—days or Decades?, Separation Shuts Shipyards, and How would separation affect jobs in the defence industry in Scotland? [3] This Report follows on from those and specifically focuses on the potential creation of a Scottish defence force, and how a separate Scotland might provide for the defence and security of the people of Scotland.

3.  The issue has been widely debated; there have been several seminars and conferences, and many papers published: The Royal United Services Institute, the Scotland Institute, the Henry Jackson Society, and most recently, Scottish Global Forum have all published relevant reports.[4] Our colleagues on the Foreign Affairs Committee and on the Defence Committee, plus on the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs have also carried out related inquiries.[5]

4.  Our Report is divided into four main sections. First, we consider what a separate Scottish State might want its armed forces to do, and how that might impact upon its relationships with its neighbours. Second, we evaluate some of the issues around a possible defence budget and the transition period from the status quo to a free standing defence force. In the third section, we assess the crucial area of personnel numbers and equipment. Finally, we consider Scotland's relationship with NATO. The Scottish Government has said that its White Paper on Independence, to be published on 26 November 2013, will include a section on defence. It is crucial that the White Paper addresses, in detail, the issues raised in our Reports.

1   Scottish Government, Your Scotland, Your Voice, 2009, page 3 Back

2   We have published a series of reports in relation to the first area as follows: Eighth Report of Session 2010-12, The Referendum on Separation for Scotland: Do you agree this is a biased question?, HC 1492; Second Report of Session 2012-13, The Referendum on Separation for Scotland: making the process legal, HC 542; Third Report of Session 2012-13, The Referendum on Separation for Scotland: a multi-option question, HC 543, Sixth Report of Session 2012-13, The Referendum on Separation for Scotland: The proposed section 30-Order Can a player also be the referee? HC 863. Back

3   Fourth Report of Session 2012-13 Terminating Trident-Days or Decades? HC 676; Seventh Report of Session 2012-13, Separation shuts shipyards, HC 892; Eighth Report of Session 2012-13, How would separation affect jobs in the Scottish defence industry? HC 957  Back

4   Malcolm Chalmers, The End of an Auld Sang, RUSI, April 2012;  Back

5   Foreign Affairs Committee, Sixth Report of 2012-13, Foreign policy considerations for the UK and Scotland in the event of Scotland becoming an independent country, HC 643; Defence Committee, Sixth Report of Session 2013-14, The Defence Implications of Possible Scottish Independence, HC 198; House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs, Second Report of Session 2012-13, The Economic Implications for the United Kingdom of Scottish Independence, HL Paper 152 Back

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Prepared 23 November 2013