UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE
To be published as HC 140-xii

House of COMMONS

Oral EVIDENCE

TAKEN BEFORE the

Scottish Affairs Committee

The referendum on separation for Scotland

Wednesday 8 January 2014

James Brokenshire MP and Rt Hon David Mundell MP

Evidence heard in Public Questions 4042 - 4106

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Oral Evidence

Taken before the Scottish Affairs Committee

on Wednesday 8 January 2014

Members present:

Mr Ian Davidson (Chair)

Jim McGovern

Graeme Morrice

Pamela Nash

Mr Alan Reid

Lindsay Roy

________________

Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: James Brokenshire MP, Minister for Security, Home Office, and Rt Hon David Mundell MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, gave evidence.

Q4042 Chair: Can I welcome the witnesses and others to this meeting of the Scottish Affairs Committee? As you will be aware, we have been conducting a series of inquiries into the referendum on separation. We have been particularly interested in the various "Scotland Analysis" papers produced by the Government. Today, we are looking at the question of security.

David, you are a weel-kent face here, but would you like to introduce yourself and your special friend for the record?

David Mundell: I am David Mundell. I am the Scotland Office Minister. This is my colleague from the Home Office, James Brokenshire, who is the Minister who has specific responsibility for security issues within the Government.

Q4043 Chair: James, would you clarify for us what you mean by Tier One and Tier Two threats? How are these threats relevant to Scotland and what might be the impact of separation?

James Brokenshire: The National Security Strategy analysed the most significant threats to the UK, with the most significant being Tier One, then ranking to Tier Two and below that Tier Three.

Just to give the Committee some examples of what we mean by Tier One, that is international terrorism; hostile attacks upon UK cyber space by other states and large-scale cyber crime; a major natural hazard; or it could be some international military crisis between states. That is the first and highest tier that has been analysed and ranked.

Below that is Tier Two. That is where we have attacks on the UK or its overseas territories by another state using chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons; risk of major instability, insurgency or civil war overseas which could threaten the UK; a significant increase in the level of organised crime affecting the UK; and severe disruption to information received, transmitted or collected by satellites.

It is quite a broad range of risks and threats, but it gives us an analysis against which the UK Government prepare how their intelligence and security agencies are able to prioritise their work. It is against this mature structure that, for example, because cyber has been prioritised as a Tier One risk, we have invested more heavily in cyber capabilities to ensure that we are better protected against those elements. It gives that integrity and structure.

However, I would say that in the White Paper that has been published by the Scottish Government they have not actually assessed against those risks. I think they would need to do that to analyse what capabilities they would require and what capacity would be needed. That is certainly not evident from the White Paper that we have seen.

Q4044 Chair: How are these threats relevant to Scotland? Surely a separate Scotland, being a small place, inoffensive and wanting to be friends with everybody, would not face any of these threats?

James Brokenshire: Some people might like to think that that is the case but that is not the reality. If I can take for example international terrorism, the threat from al-Qaeda and Islamist-related terrorist groups remains relevant to all parts of the UK. Some perhaps have sought to characterise it by saying that, if Scotland was not part of the UK, that might in some way diminish the risk. I certainly cannot say that at all to the Committee.

When we look at some of the other European countries that the Scottish Government have sought to examine such as Denmark and Sweden, they have seen terrorist activity in their countries. Equally, when I look at the discussions that I have at EU level with other European countries and the risk that is faced with people travelling to Syria to become involved potentially in terrorist activity, there is a risk that that may pose back in this country. One of the countries that is most focused on this at the moment is Belgium, which is facilitating and discussing this very relevantly at EU level.

It would not be right to present and say that, because there is separation, these risks diminish. Indeed, that is without even touching on organised crime, which certainly does not recognise any boundaries at all. Therefore, the risk will very much remain in respect of that.

Q4045 Chair: Is it your view that there would be no diminution of the risk faced by a separate Scotland as distinct from Scotland at the moment as part of the UK?

James Brokenshire: My assessment is that there would be no diminution in that risk.

Q4046 Pamela Nash: In the security paper each of the agencies within the UK that deal with national security is described. Could you explain a bit more to us how they specifically deal with Scottish interests?

James Brokenshire: It is worth highlighting the different agencies. There is the Security Service-MI5-which is responsible for protecting the UK against threats to national security. There is the Secret Intelligence Service, which operates overseas to collect secret foreign intelligence on issues concerning the UK’s vital interests, as well as GCHQ, which has as its two main missions gathering intelligence through the monitoring of communications and information assurance. An integrated approach is taken in respect of that. You could say that, for every £1 spent in relation to the security intelligence agencies, that covers the whole of the UK; it is not seeking to distinguish between one part of the UK versus another.

That, for me, is another factor that comes through from the White Paper. Somehow it is seeking to characterise it as being distinguished-that there is somehow a sharing of intelligence in the UK. It does not work like that. It is an integrated whole; it is not a separation between the nations of the UK. For example, the intelligence received may have relevance to different parts of the UK. Therefore, I do not think you can separate it out in the way that some have sought to.

Q4047 Pamela Nash: If Scotland does leave the UK, how would that be separated and how would that affect the security of Scotland in your view?

James Brokenshire: It is interesting to note the comments in the White Paper. The Scottish Government appear to be saying that if there was a positive vote-which is not what we are contemplating-they would have to create a separate intelligence agency and that, equally, this would be led by the police. What is confused in it for me is that, on the one hand, they appear to want to take a chocolate bar approach. They want to take one chunk from this agency, another chunk from here and another chunk from here, and put it together. They suggest that this creates some sort of integrated intelligence agency. It simply does not work like that.

On the other hand, they appear to be saying that they will need to rely on existing arrangements as well. Again, a security union is absolutely part and parcel of a political and legal union. Therefore, to suggest that things could simply carry on in the way that they have done thus far I think is simply flawed.

It is interesting that the Scottish Government have, for example, pointed to the case of the Glasgow airport bombing and the relationship between Police Scotland and the Metropolitan Police as a good example of how this works well. If anything, that is an argument for maintaining the status quo-not separating it and breaking it up.

Q4048 Pamela Nash: Do any of the agencies have a regional presence in Scotland?

James Brokenshire: It is difficult for me to comment specifically on the nature of the intelligence agencies in this forum. I can certainly say in relation to the Security Service that it has its focus and presence throughout the UK. Its mission is protecting the security of the UK and it is that integrated whole that obviously is its work and focus. Beyond that, unfortunately, in this environment I am constrained as to what I am able to say.

Q4049 Pamela Nash: I understand, but, just to be clear, there is not a geographical section of MI5 or any of the other agencies that could easily be broken off?

James Brokenshire: No; it is simply not like that. It is integrated. The way that intelligence and security works is that you may receive one piece of information that may have relevance to a particular plot or investigation. That may have read-across in different parts of the country. To put in place some sort of artificial separation, or indeed to suggest that with GCHQ there is a separation in the cables between one part of the country and another, it just does not work in that way in terms of the capabilities that are there.

Q4050 Pamela Nash: Finally on that section, are there any significant differences between how the agencies work with Police Scotland compared with how they work with the police throughout the rest of the UK?

James Brokenshire: Clearly, Police Scotland works with the Security Service. They are recipients, for example, of the analysis that JTAC-the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre-produces. It is difficult to characterise that there would be a difference in approach. The strong point I would like to make is that this is not about co-operation; this is about an integrated whole. Police Scotland is part of the national counter-terrorism policing framework. They work together. It is not somehow that it is a co-operative through separation; it is rather that it is an integrated part of the architecture.

Q4051 Pamela Nash: I understand that. What I am trying to ascertain is whether, because of devolution to Scotland, there is any specific difference between Police Scotland’s role in that and even in the relationship between JTAC and the Scottish Government.

James Brokenshire: National security is a reserved matter. That makes it clear that it is reserved for the UK Government. I might point in addition to the National Crime Agency, because I have touched on organised crime. The National Crime Agency has a slightly different relationship with Police Scotland respecting devolution and the lead that Police Scotland has in policing matters. It does not mean that the NCA does not contribute effectively through the specialist capabilities that it is able to offer to Police Scotland through the National Cyber Crime Unit, CEOP and other specific capabilities respecting devolution. In many ways it gives it the best of both worlds. You have that national capability but respecting the devolved settlement.

Q4052 Pamela Nash: Even though devolution plays a part in that, do you think that would be damaged if Scotland was a separate country because it would not have the benefit of the NCA?

James Brokenshire: It is notable that the White Paper does not really comment on that relationship with the National Crime Agency. It almost appears to suggest that this would simply remain in place. I am sure that we will get on to the legal differences. For example, we have an integrated approach at the moment. Police Scotland can work very closely with police forces throughout the UK to see that people are arrested in a fast-moving, dynamic situation, ensuring that other police forces throughout the UK are properly tasked and able to support that. If we had a separate country, you simply would not be able to do things in the way that we do at the moment. I think that would make the job of Police Scotland that much harder in fighting organised crime in not being able to pursue crime throughout the rest of the UK in the way that they do at the moment.

Therefore, I think it would make the work of protecting Scotland against crime that much more difficult and, effectively, put bureaucracy in the place of where we currently have an effective, fast-moving and potentially dynamic arrangement to ensure that criminals are pursued and prosecuted.

Q4053 Pamela Nash: Thank you, Minister; that is extremely helpful.

I would like to move on to the more specific threat of cyber crime, which is increasingly infiltrating people’s personal lives and also that of businesses throughout the United Kingdom. Can you tell the lay people here more about the cyber security strategy of the UK and if there is anything specifically we should be aware of for Scotland, or is it the same as the rest of the strategy-completely integrated?

James Brokenshire: Again, the work to combat cyber crime is an integrated approach through the National Cyber Security Programme. It looks at, yes, combating cyber crime but also issues around cyber security. We have criminality and that can take two forms. You can have things like the distributed denial of service attacks, where people seek to flood a website in order to disable it, and all the challenges posed by that. I know, for example, that the Royal Bank of Scotland itself had a significant challenge with a DDoS attack, as they are referred to, in seeking to disrupt some of its accounts and the ability for people to access their accounts. So you have these specific attacks.

You then have what I might describe as cyber-enabled crime. These are things like fraud, where an existing crime is effectively multiplied or harnessed using technology. What we have done is built up capabilities through the National Cyber Crime Unit, for example, to ensure that we have a strong national-level law enforcement capability, to be able to respond to those most significant threats, working with policing throughout the UK. It would be that type of capability that Police Scotland currently relies upon or currently can draw upon to be able to support it around this type of fast-moving and dynamic criminality. I have certainly been very clear that the NCCU should be a centre of excellence that can be drawn upon by policing throughout the UK. It has that relationship, for example, with GCHQ over technical capabilities.

On the other side is what I might describe as the computer emergency response type of situation-we saw it in Estonia, for example, where it came under a cyber attack-and the resilience of a country to be able to respond to that. We have the Computer Emergency Response Team-CERT UK-which, in essence, draws together each of the different agencies that would need to respond in that type of environment. It would be this type of capability that Scotland would have to create for itself as a self-standing nation.

I would point to some of these issues that are not really addressed in the White Paper. When you look at the arrangements that are contemplated, the White Paper talks about a budget of £203 million. First, we do not know what that is. I know the Deputy First Minister said 12 months ago that there was detailed work being conducted to set out what investment would be required to be able to have an ongoing annual budget in relation to this. We see none of that in the White Paper.

It is also the fact that the threat assessment analysis-i.e. looking at those threats that we touched upon at the outset-only starts following independence. You are making decisions even before you have done the threat assessment and the threat analysis as to what capabilities you would require. I would say from my reading of the White Paper that it feels quite thin in not responding in that way.

Q4054 Pamela Nash: How much does all this cost? How much resource is the UK Government currently dedicating to the cyber security of our country?

James Brokenshire: The overall five-year plan is for £860 million over the five-year spending review period. If it would be helpful to the Committee, I can provide information on how the first two years of the funding period have been spent. For example, to give a breakdown, over the last two years, the programme has spent £260 million, and £157 million of that has gone to the security and intelligence agencies to develop national capabilities to detect and defeat high-end threats. There are then different spending parts of this. We have received, for example, £28 million to support law enforcement to combat cyber crime and the build around the National Cyber Crime Unit. If it would be helpful for me to write to the Committee to give the full detail of that, rather than spending time in this session, I would be very happy to do so.

Q4055 Pamela Nash: I think that would be helpful, but, from what you have said so far, it seems clear that it would be more than a Barnett consequential equivalent that would need to be spent in Scotland to try and reach the level of security that we have at the moment.

James Brokenshire: There was research that was conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit that effectively said that the UK was No. 1 around all this fast-moving, quite dynamic issue and we are seeking to play a leadership role. Scotland would need to put its own capabilities in place. It would need to really think through how it could deal with some security issues as well as cyber crime issues, given the fact that we have all had those e-mails in our accounts inviting us to click on a link to go and get some reward from HMRC, and clearly it is always highly dubious when those come through. But it is that sort of thing, which is real for the individual, and part of the work we are doing is launching an awareness campaign throughout the UK to highlight the challenges and to build e-confidence. Ultimately, so much of our economy now is moving online and it is important that we have that confidence in our use of the internet and all the technology that lies behind it so that our economy continues to grow, and that we make it that much harder-we are seen as a hard target-for the organised criminals who may seek to use this as a potential advantage and carry out online criminality.

David Mundell: Just to add a point, James is obviously talking about ongoing cost. There is no mention in the White Paper of set-up costs in relation to these organisations. As I read the White Paper, these organisations are to be set up in just under two years’ time from scratch. There is absolutely no reference at all to those set-up costs or how people would be recruited into Scotland, specifically in the area of cyber crime, where there is a really serious issue in relation to recruitment of people of the right skill level.

Q4056 Lindsay Roy: James, is a year and a half realistic in terms of the set-up and establishment of a security system?

James Brokenshire: Even the White Paper itself acknowledges that the sort of arrangements that would need to be put in place to create a security and intelligence architecture could not be capable of being done in 18 months. The White Paper refers to the continuation of existing arrangements and, in essence, some sort of transition beyond independence. It is difficult to see how, in an 18-month period, you could create that sort of completely self-standing arrangement. Therefore, it does imply that there would have to be some form of transition, which feels extremely difficult, recognising the fact that you have separate countries and therefore the need to have that separate structure.

Q4057 Lindsay Roy: So we do not know the extent of the deficit at any time?

James Brokenshire: At this stage it is for the Scottish Government to set out in detail what their proposition is. I just do not get the sense from the current White Paper that we have that level of detail. We are not contemplating or in any way preparing for an independent Scotland. I do not think it would be right for us to do so unless and until the people of Scotland have made their decision in respect of this. From the paper that I have seen, at the moment, it does not give that level of detail; it does not articulate against the risks. We do not get the sense, despite what the Deputy First Minister said to the Foreign Affairs Committee 12 months ago, that there was a detailed and substantial piece of work that was being undertaken that would give a sense of those set-up costs. We simply do not see that.

David Mundell: Indeed, during her evidence session with the Foreign Affairs Committee, Ms Sturgeon indicated that that information would be published in the White Paper. You will have seen the sum total of what is in the White Paper for yourselves; it is just a series of bland statements.

Q4058 Pamela Nash: You mentioned a transitional period. Am I right in saying that there is no precedent for that? You have said in all your answers so far that this would not be a change in the level of co-operation. Co-operation does not exist at the moment because we are one country and it is not required.

James Brokenshire: I would not want to give the impression that it is not possible to set up a separate intelligence agency. The point I am making is that it will be difficult. It requires a real focus on legal structures as well as simply the different intelligence agencies or the facets within that. It also relies on the ability to work with other nations on intelligence sharing and being able to build that trust with other nations as well as the relationship that you would have with them on an intelligence-sharing basis. That does take time. The point I would make is that the existing arrangements that we have are mature; they are established and have been worked through with other nations over many, many years, and that is not something that could easily be replicated.

Q4059 Chair: You must accept that you do sound a bit like Sir Humphrey saying things like "in the best of all possible worlds," "any change is difficult," and "it is all really, really complex." We appreciate that separation is likely to have some difficulties and it is going to result in change. As I understand it from the SNP, that is the point of the exercise. Therefore, simply to say that there are going to be some difficulties in the transition is not sufficient, with respect.

I want to clarify the question of set-up costs. I am not clear about the balance in set-up costs between what you need as a core to cover a population of, say, 5 million and what you would also need as a core to cover a population of 50 million. What then is the proportion that expands according to your population? I am not clear, for example, whether 90% of what the UK spends on security would be required for a population of 5 million or whether it is only 1%.

When we talk about start-up costs, I am also not clear how much of that is for machinery-bits of physical kit-and how much is personnel that you require to recruit. I am not genuinely certain whether the start-up exercise is several bright people in a room and the capital cost is the kettle, or whether you require enormous computers and a couple of apprentices to operate them. Can you give us some sort of feel for that, because that would affect our view of what the start-up costs were for a separate Scotland?

James Brokenshire: Clearly, it is for the Scottish Government to set out their analysis on this. As my responses have indicated, the figure of £203 million that has been put into the White Paper has simply been an attribution based on population. It does not take account of economies of scale, for example.

The capabilities that we are talking about here are, in essence, information such as intelligence reporting, raw data and records. Yes, there is technology and the things that you would need to put in place to have the right analytical systems, databases, IT and communications infrastructure. You rely on trade craft as well-the analytical techniques-and obviously people. It is looking at each of these different elements, and also the partnership issues, against your analysis and assessment of the individual risks. Clearly, that is not what we have seen in the White Paper and what we have received from the Scottish Government to date.

It is very difficult for me to give you that sense of what those costs are. It is for the Scottish Government to make their case as to what they think is required. I suppose what I am trying to get a sense of is the different elements that might sit within that.

Q4060 Chair: I can spot waffle when I hear it. The Scottish Government are not here and you are, so we are entitled to ask you some of the questions at the moment. What I am not clear on, for example, is whether the core costs of having an intelligence service, looking at the international comparisons of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Belgium, which was mentioned earlier, would be wildly above £200 million and, therefore, a starting cost would be £500 million, or whether a figure of £200 million is realistic as being £100 million start-up and £100 million running costs.

We assume that you and those who have briefed you know slightly more about this than we do. I would find it somewhat upsetting if we thought that was not the case. Therefore, we are entitled to ask for some clarification from you.

James Brokenshire: If you look at the comparisons that you draw with some of the Nordic countries, they have a system where, effectively, the security aspects of this are led by their police service, but a lot of the intelligence work is, in essence, conducted by the military. It is a very different model from the model that we currently have in the UK, with some of that latter work conducted by GCHQ and the Secret Intelligence Service.

It is quite hard to give some sense of hard numbers. The point that I make is that the £203 million, from my reading, does not take account of those set-up costs at all. It appears to be an attribution of the ongoing, continuing costs rather than reflecting any establishment costs.

Q4061 Chair: Is it a reasonable figure as a running costs figure? I completely understand the point about the set-up costs. We have been looking at the question of defence and the armed forces, and we understand the distinction. Does it have any relationship to reality as an ongoing running costs figure?

James Brokenshire: I can perhaps answer in this way. The basis upon which it has been drawn up, on an attribution of the population, is answering the wrong question. That is why I come back to looking at your risks as a country and how do you-

Q4062 Chair: Answer the question I did ask then. Is the £200 million reasonable as an ongoing cost? It is coming back to this question of whether there is a minimum cost that would be necessary almost irrespective of size, and then you would add stuff on relating to population.

James Brokenshire: I cannot give you a straight answer to that question. That is not because I do not want to but because the way in which we structure our security and intelligence agencies covers the whole of the UK. You cannot break it down and say that £200 million would be a reasonable sum for Scotland, or this amount would be a reasonable sum for Wales or Northern Ireland. It simply is not done on that basis.

What I can say very directly is that overall security relies on systems, processes and, yes, people. It would be hard to say how you get to that irreducible minimum, because we simply do not do it in that way. We simply spend £2 billion on the overall pot that goes into our security and intelligence agencies and that supports the whole of the United Kingdom. I just do not think you can say, "Because we have this level of population, that would mean a sum of £x to be able to provide that security assurance to your country." It is certainly very hard for me to try and break it down in that way.

Q4063 Chair: If you have no idea what the figure might be for Scotland, how can you say that the made-up SNP figure is unrealistic?

James Brokenshire: I suppose because of the way in which I look at the Tier One, the Tier Two and the Tier Three risks, and the capabilities that we have put in place for the whole of the UK. All I am saying is that the analysis is based on population breakdown, whereas I would argue very strongly that your analysis needs to be based on the risks that you see and the capabilities that are required. The number does not appear to take account of economies of scale and the need to effectively replicate what we already enjoy as the UK. Therefore, it feels to me that that number does not properly represent the overall cost that would be appropriate.

Q4064 Chair: So what number properly would?

James Brokenshire: I honestly could not give you that number, Mr Davidson. It is for the Scottish Government to make their case on this.

Q4065 Chair: No, no; I do not understand why you cannot give me a better figure. You have all these bright people helping you. If this is a secret and you cannot tell us, then tell us that, but you are bound to have some estimate about what the necessary amount would be to have an intelligence service for a country of 5 million. I just simply do not believe that you have not given that any thought at all.

James Brokenshire: We have genuinely not done the work on analysing what a settlement or a negotiation would look like in that way. We have been very clear in saying that that-

Q4066 Chair: I am not asking you about a settlement or a negotiation either. I am asking you about what sort of sum would be necessary to have an intelligence service for a country of 5 million.

James Brokenshire: I could not give you that detail, and that work has not been undertaken because of the different approach that I would take as the starting point on this. I am sorry not to be helpful on this because I would like to be, but that work has not been done in that way.

Q4067 Graeme Morrice: Obviously we are aware that the UK has a long-established and highly developed security and intelligence services network. In the answers you have given to previous questions, you have said that, in the event of an independent Scotland, an independent Scottish Government would be looking at transitional arrangements working towards setting up some kind of Scotland security and intelligence services network.

What would that relationship be with the intelligence and security services of the rest of the UK? Would it become unplugged from the rest of the UK, or would there be an integral relationship? How do you see that developing in reality?

James Brokenshire: If that eventuality were to occur, as we do with other neighbouring countries, we have intelligence relationships that we establish and we seek to co-operate, but that is a very different relationship from the integrated one we clearly have at the moment. So there would be a fundamental change in the relationship that is there.

Part of our work around intelligence and security relies on intelligence sharing with other countries. It is important to state that there is the control principle that is adhered to and maintained. In other words, if another nation passes you sensitive intelligence, then they retain control of that and you will not pass that on to any other nation without their permission.

It may be that that nation would be prepared to allow that to be provided to an independent Scottish state, but it may not be. Therefore, it is important to understand that there is a fundamentally different relationship that would be struck here.

Q4068 Graeme Morrice: That is interesting. In respect of the relationship that the UK has with other countries in terms of sharing security and intelligence information-we know that is a very, very important aspect of the work undertaken, and obviously that relationship is a very good relationship with many countries throughout the world-do you think an independent Scotland would also be able to inherit those good working relationships?

James Brokenshire: Obviously a lot of our relationships rely on, yes, that sense of co-operation and good will, but it is also about a two-way relationship in terms of what you, as a country, contribute in the other direction in that relationship and, therefore, the maturity that you see there. I am sure that over time an independent Scotland and an independent Scottish intelligence or security agency could establish international relations and connections, but it would be challenging and would take time. There are no automatic arrangements that would operate. I think it could happen, but it would take time and it would need to show through that Scottish agency the contribution they would make to the intelligence-sharing arrangement.

Q4069 Graeme Morrice: The current situation is that within the UK there is intelligence and security information sharing with Scottish authorities, whether it is with the devolved Scottish Government, Police Scotland or other bodies and agencies. How do you think that kind of internal UK sharing of information would work in the situation of an independent Scotland?

James Brokenshire: When we look, for example, at organised crime, we have the National Crime Agency that has been established, which will have an intelligence hub within it and no doubt would look at the potential cross-border criminality in the way that we work through on a crime that operates, say, in the north-west of England as well as Scotland in the organised crime groups that operate there.

The point I would make is that at the moment there is a structure and integrated arrangement to deal with that. What we would be looking at is effectively a separation. You would be sharing some information in relation to criminal intelligence, but it is the response that you get from that. At the moment we have, for example, Police Scotland, who will be able to work very closely on arrests, on things like hot pursuit and the way in which we do work as an integrated whole in the UK. That would not be possible. While you can look at co-operation, good will gets you only so far. It is that question of how a unified legal and operational structure adds enormous value in dealing with what at times are fast-moving, complex and dynamic investigations, which would be made harder if there was additional bureaucracy that got in the way of that.

Q4070 Graeme Morrice: Do you think it would be easier or harder to protect the British Isles if Scotland became independent?

James Brokenshire: It would be more challenging. The reason I say that is because good will and co-operation will get you so far. The fact that, for example, we have legal structures that are in place to enable Scottish police officers to make arrests in the rest of the UK and vice versa really does add huge benefit. It simply would not be possible to contemplate that a police officer from another country could arrest someone in a second country. It just does not work in that fashion.

If you look, for example, at the relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, there is no hot pursuit. We rely on things like the European arrest warrant. There is, therefore, time that is built into that. For example, where someone is contesting a European arrest warrant, in 2010, on average, it took 93 days to see someone sent out from this country to another country.

What I am characterising is that a political and legal structure that fits around this in a unified fashion aids the investigation and pursuit of criminals. If you had that separation, you could not continue in the way that we have done to date and that would make the job that much more difficult.

Q4071 Graeme Morrice: What is the Scotland Office view upon that?

David Mundell: The Scotland Office view is that co-operation is not the same as integration. That is a flaw that underlies the White Paper on many areas by indicating that there would be partnership and working together. Of course it is likely that different interests across the British Isles would want to work together, but that is not the same as integration. It is the integration that we have within our security services and in our currency that is the benefit of having a United Kingdom. Co-operation and partnership are not the same as integration.

Q4072 Chair: I understand that clearly things would be less effective and efficient where you have separation and there are two countries rather than one. Unless I am mistaken, none of this is of a scale to be a game changer, is it? It is a loss of efficiency and effectiveness. It depends on whether you take the view that it is a price worth paying. It is a bit like the closure of the shipyards. If you take the view that closing the shipyards is a price worth paying, then you will be privy to carry on with independence. There is nothing here that is so much of a major factor, is there, that would put somebody off separation in itself?

James Brokenshire: When you look at organised crime, we have put in our paper the cost of organised crime to the UK and, equally, what that means to Scotland in terms of the organised crime groups and the economic cost to Scotland of, for example, drug misuse. Organised crime groups respect no borders or boundaries. If we have the cocaine trade that starts off in Latin America and works through from there, it crosses borders and ends up on our streets. You need an end-to-end approach to confront and combat that effectively. That is precisely what the National Crime Agency provides, with its 120 overseas officers working with law enforcement overseas to harness that upstream activity as well as providing specialist capability and support within the UK.

The point that I make is that, if you changed the arrangement and you have a separate Scotland, it would no doubt have to create its own capabilities and an international network in its own right. It would also have to look at the specialist capabilities that the National Crime Agency itself already provides. The point is that it does make it that much harder. If you have organised crime groups that look at ways in which they can exploit differences between legal systems, they will seek to do that. That is the point I am trying to make. It is getting more challenging and more dynamic. Organised crime groups become more sophisticated. Therefore, the response that you require needs to keep pace with that. That is precisely why we have been creating the National Crime Agency in that way.

Q4073 Chair: If you are saying that independence would damage the fight against organised crime and would undermine the fight against cocaine and other drug dealing, can you give us an indication of what sort of percentage deterioration there would be? Again it comes down to the question of whether it is a price worth paying.

James Brokenshire: As I have indicated, we know the overall cost in terms of the drugs trade to Scotland. I would not want to give the impression to this Committee that it is not possible to create structures for Scotland to be able to do this. Indeed, Police Scotland is very capable in its own right of confronting and combating organised crime groups. It does tremendous work, and the Gartcosh campus, I know, will be a really effective way of drawing together a lot of the strands.

The issue is that the National Crime Agency will also be there at that same campus to ensure, for example, that Scotland has the benefit of the intelligence hub that is being established within the National Crime Agency as well as the rest of the UK. It is looking at the capabilities that are available to you, which you may need to replicate and put in place, to ensure that from that end-to-end approach you have that capability. I certainly would not want to give the impression that Police Scotland is not very good at dealing with organised crime. It is, but it is what the NCA gives it on top of that in terms of specialist capability.

Q4074 Chair: But why should it not continue to do it in the future? This is the issue of noses and faces and cutting off. Presumably, in the event of separation, it would not be in the United Kingdom’s interest to have a crime-ridden Scotland and a sanctuary for crime lords, or indeed for terrorists and al-Qaeda, sitting up in Hawick or anything like that in order to be able to attack south of the border.

James Brokenshire: No, of course not.

Q4075 Chair: Therefore, presumably there would be a degree of co-operation which was maximised. As far as I can see, there are a lot of stronger arguments against separation than this one. I am just trying to clarify what degree of deterioration there would be in the existing service as a result of separation, while accepting that it does not sound as if this in itself would be a game changer.

James Brokenshire: It is right to say, of course, that, if there were a separate Scotland, it would be in the interests of the remainder of the UK to work very closely in co-operation with Scotland to mitigate the risks that attach to organised crime groups that will be operating throughout Scotland and the UK in those circumstances. They are not discriminating in terms of border and will continue to operate in the way that they seek to do today.

The point that I make is that it is a different system. We would not have the same powers of arrest on both sides of the border, with the same rights to be able to search and see people returned to face justice. Where you have bureaucracy and those elements in place, it makes it that much harder to combat quite sophisticated organised crime groups.

Q4076 Chair: A final point in this section is the question of international co-operation and in particular the "Five Eyes" arrangement. I understand the point you made about this being an agreement whereby people put in as well as take out. I concede that it is difficult to see what a separate Scotland would be putting in. Again coming back to the noses and faces argument, would it not then be in the interests of the other partners to provide full information to Scotland, even a Scotland that had released al-Megrahi and a Scotland that was trying to get rid of Trident?

James Brokenshire: When you look at the sorts of plots that we have seen in the past that cross borders, we have clearly seen intelligence sharing between different nations in our mutual interest. The question is the uncertainty that would potentially be posed by the creation of a new Scottish intelligence agency-the time that would be taken to get arrangements put in place and for it to get to that level of maturity and trust with other nations around the globe so that secrets would be held secret and the control principle would be adhered to. Yes, of course, there is always interest to ensure that security is maintained.

The point I am trying to make is that there is nothing automatic to say that you would gain the benefit of that relationship. You could do but there is a question mark; it is an uncertainty.

Q4077 Mr Reid: Thank you very much for coming along this afternoon. Quoting from the Scottish Government’s White Paper, it says: "Scotland, of course, already has a substantial existing capital stake, from our investment in UK intelligence infrastructure. We will expect investment to be recognised in the arrangements that are agreed with the UK as part of the independence settlement."

Are their expectations correct that, because Scottish taxpayers have contributed to the UK intelligence infrastructure, an independent Scotland could expect some of that infrastructure to help itself set up its own services?

James Brokenshire: Again, I go back to the point that that is not something that we have contemplated or done any work on, as you would perhaps expect me to say, Mr Reid. At the same time it is this chocolate bar type of approach that I have alluded to-"We will have a chunk of this, a chunk of that and a chunk of the other"-and that that gives you an integrated type of security and intelligence apparatus. I just differ on that approach and the starting point from this to get to that type of figure or arrangement that is contemplated in the White Paper.

Clearly, the Scottish Government will set out how they see things. If there were a positive vote, then all of this would be subject, no doubt, to detailed and lengthy negotiations.

Q4078 Mr Reid: Scotland’s population is roughly about 10% of the UK’s, so it would be reasonable to expect Scotland to acquire 10% of the UK’s assets. In the area of computer software you cannot have 10% of a computer programme; you either get the software or you don’t. In the negotiations would you expect that Scotland would get copies of UK intelligence software, or is that something that just would not be contemplated?

James Brokenshire: It is very difficult to discuss the hypotheticals around this. I am clear, should that hypothetical situation arise, that there would need to be a great deal of detailed negotiation and discussion that would take place on a number of different levels, not simply looking at budgets but on capabilities and various other issues. You are right to highlight the fact that Scotland itself would need to deliver a number of different capabilities itself, whether that is intercept or a whole host of very technical capabilities that it would require and it would need to own. As part of any negotiations, I am sure there would be a great deal of discussion and focus around a range of technical issues as well as budgetary issues.

The point is that it would be a very separate arrangement. The Scottish Government have very clear views, as they would be entitled to, on what they require to provide the security for an independent Scotland. I think that does require a great deal of very careful thought, which does not appear at the moment to be provided by the White Paper that we have seen.

Q4079 Mr Reid: But the White Paper makes the point that, in the past, the UK gave a great deal of help to friendly countries like Canada and Australia to set up their intelligence services because that was in the UK’s interests. The Scottish Government are clearly assuming that Scotland and the UK will remain on friendly terms and, therefore, it would be in the UK’s interest to help Scotland set up its intelligence services. Is that a reasonable assumption?

James Brokenshire: Ensuring there is good collaboration and co-operation is important in the interests of both; I absolutely acknowledge that point. That is as distinct and different from the integrated approach that we have now and the differences that we have obviously discussed in this session already.

Q4080 Mr Reid: In their White Paper, the Scottish Government outline plans for creating a single intelligence and security agency. Do you see any advantages in having a single intelligence and security agency as opposed to the multi-layered approach that the UK adopts at the moment?

James Brokenshire: The difference that I see is that each of our agencies has quite a distinct role. The focus of GCHQ and SIS is largely external, looking outside the UK, whereas the Security Service is more domestic-facing. It is using intelligence, yes, but as a security service its task is in delivering that security, whereas the other agencies-GCHQ and the Security Intelligence Service-are intelligence agencies. That is about garnering intelligence.

There is a distinction between those two roles. All three work extremely closely together, but there are advantages in having that separation given the external versus internal, and intelligence versus security focus. That is not to say that you could not do it in a different way. Indeed, we know that other European countries, as I have highlighted, have perhaps a police service looking at domestic security and relying on their military for the external arrangements. It is a different arrangement. It is not the approach that we, as the UK, have sought to take, but it would be open to an independent Scotland to take that different approach.

Q4081 Mr Reid: Are you aware of any other comparable countries to Scotland that have adopted the same approach of a single agency?

James Brokenshire: We have identified in our paper some comparisons in one of the annexes on international comparative data. When I look at that, you have countries like Norway, Denmark and Sweden where there is a distinction that they seek to draw between each of the different responsibilities on domestic threat and overseas threat. Indeed, some then have a separate agency relating to cyber.

It is certainly possible to do it in this way. You may point to a country like Finland that has a counter-terrorism and counter-espionage agency. It is certainly possible to construct an agency in that way, and it would be open to an independent Scotland to conduct its affairs in that way if that is what it has chosen to do.

Q4082 Jim McGovern: Thanks for coming along today. I participated in the Police Parliamentary Scheme. That involved working with what was then Tayside police but which is now the Tayside division of Police Scotland. I was also working a couple of days with SOCA, so it is possible that I know the answers to some of the questions I am going to put to you, but for the purpose of the report and the record-

Chair: What would be the point of asking the questions then?

Jim McGovern: To have them recorded. In the paper you define organised crime as a security threat. How do you arrive at that position?

James Brokenshire: Organised crime is characterised as what we describe as a Tier Two risk. It is a significant increase in organised crime that is framed in that way. We have done that because, as you will be aware, Mr McGovern, of the impact organised crime can have. It is also the destabilising effect that it can have through corruption and fraud if not checked. As some other countries around the world have seen, it can really erode some of the fundamentals of government. That is why at its extremis organised crime can be so serious. It is the harm and risk to the population, whether that is through the impact of the drugs trade or cyber-related frauds and scams that are perpetrated on the public, and why the fight to combat organised crime really does matter. It is why we as a Government have given additional focus through the creation of the National Crime Agency to up our response to this because of the direct impact it has in communities. It is not some theoretical issue at a higher level. Yes, it is very sophisticated at times. I am sure you have seen that in your experience at SOCA, which was the previous agency responsible for national-level approaches to combating organised criminality. That is why I think it does matter at so many different levels.

Q4083 Jim McGovern: Is dealing with organised crime in Scotland dealt with and fought against specifically by Police Scotland or is it national-UK-wide?

James Brokenshire: Police Scotland does have responsibility for combating organised crime. As I have already indicated, it does some tremendous work, but in doing so it is able to draw upon the capabilities of the National Crime Agency. That deals with a number of different issues. It could be the UK Human Trafficking Centre to ensure that cases where people are being trafficked across borders into Scotland are properly recognised through the national referral mechanism and can receive appropriate support.

There are a number of different facets that Police Scotland is able to draw upon and rely upon. Indeed, the work that the National Crime Agency also does very practically in seeking to work with Police Scotland is to assist in co-ordinating support from other police forces around the rest of the UK in what, at times, can be very fast and dynamic investigations, as well as the link into Europol on criminality that may cross borders through Europe.

Q4084 Jim McGovern: In your opinion, do you think that, if Scotland were to separate, the ability to fight organised crime would be lessened or compromised?

James Brokenshire: I think it would be made harder because of the bureaucracy issues that I have already highlighted in respect of the need to move to a situation where you are relying on the European arrest warrant, rather than the ability that policing has at the moment to be able to seek arrest through arrest warrants across the UK and on search warrants as well. The flexibility provided there would change because of the need, in essence, to rely upon more EU-based approaches.

There is also the collection of fines and enforcement aspects of that. It seems to me that there would be additional bureaucracy and burdens that would be put in place that would make that fight that much harder, knowing that organised crime groups are sophisticated across borders and will look to exploit any issues where they can to advance their pernicious trade.

Q4085 Jim McGovern: You seem to be saying that the main difference or the main obstacle would be increased bureaucracy. Over time could that be overcome?

James Brokenshire: It is the practicalities of the legal system that we have put in place. I highlighted the European arrest warrant. The Scottish White Paper draws upon this and says that it contemplates that we would use the European arrest warrant if there were separated countries. We see today, for example, the relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. That is time-consuming. Therefore, there is that bureaucracy and I cannot see how you would overcome that.

More fundamentally, it is also the ability for police officers in Scotland to be able to conduct operations within the rest of the UK with other UK police forces. Again, I am sure that in your experience as well you have seen that. Again using the example of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, there is no hot pursuit. It is worth understanding this. A separate border would mean that policing one country does not therefore flow across into another country. So it is the law and the operational issues.

For example, if you had a separate police force in a different country operating in a second country, what happens on complaints about the way that police service was operating? If you were contemplating the very fluid model that seems to be being articulated, I just don’t see how on earth that could work. What about accountability on sovereignty and law?

Q4086 Jim McGovern: But, of course, you take into account that there are already different legal systems for Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

James Brokenshire: There are, but we have created and structured our UK-wide law in a way that is able to address that as one country. It is difficult to contemplate how you could do that with a completely separate country. That is not what we see in the island of Ireland.

Q4087 Chair: I want to clarify one point on the question of hot pursuit. How much actual hot pursuit is there at the moment? I am not aware of the bridge at Coldstream being a constant procession of cars screaming, one after the other. Would we have a situation where a drunk driver, as long as he got over the bridge at Coldstream one way or the other, would then escape pursuit by the police force chasing him? How would that work? I am not quite sure how much hot pursuit there actually is at the moment. Maybe you could just clarify what you mean by that before we move on.

James Brokenshire: What that is saying, clearly, is that, if someone is travelling from Scotland to the rest of the UK, the police service would be able to continue that. They would be able to liaise with the police service in the residual part of the UK, but they would not be able to arrest, whereas they can under our existing legislative structure. That is the distinction that I draw.

Some countries that are within Schengen-and the UK is not part of Schengen-have the ability to allow police officers to pursue across a border, but that then does not give them the right of arrest. They would have to see the arrest by the host country. It is all of these issues that then arise that we just don’t have as a unified, united and integrated country. We respect devolution and differences with Scots law, but our overall UK-wide law when put together allows that.

Q4088 Chair: It would be helpful if you could let us have something about hot pursuit-in particular how it applies, say, between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, and how that might be replayed in the context of Scotland and England. That would be helpful and we might want to return to that because that is something that is identifiable.

James Brokenshire: I can certainly point to some of the statements that we have already made in this document. There is certainly a section that highlights this, but I am very happy to-

Chair: But there are no figures and so on.

James Brokenshire: Perhaps I can take that away and see what information we are able to provide to assist the Committee around that.

David Mundell: I have a small point on that. When I was in Aberdeen recently meeting with representatives of the voluntary sector, the rape and domestic abuse support group that were present at that meeting raised very serious concerns to them about what would happen with people moving about the United Kingdom in response to the sorts of incidents that they look to support people on. There is no doubt that it would be much more difficult than it is currently to deal with these incidents if the perpetrator is in Scotland or another part of the United Kingdom and the victim is in another part of it.

Chair: If you have had evidence about that, it would be helpful if you wrote to us clarifying what is meant by that. Then, if we have further queries, we will maybe come back to you. This does seem to be quite an important area that we would want to pursue.

Q4089 Jim McGovern: Could you clarify the role of the UK National Crime Agency and what sort of relationship it has with Police Scotland? What difference, if any, would separation make to that relationship?

James Brokenshire: At the moment Scotland has the benefit of devolution and the devolved arrangements in respect of crime, but it is also able to harness the benefits of the capabilities of the National Crime Agency. That means it is able to draw upon the National Cyber Crime Unit’s expertise and specialisation in respect of combating online criminality. It has the Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre’s specialisation around online child abuse. There is the UK Human Trafficking Centre.

There are a number of these capabilities that we have set out in the security paper that demonstrate the enhanced reach of the 120 liaison officers that the NCA has around the world to be able to support operations. Therefore, it is that complementary additionality that the NCA is able to provide to the investigation of organised criminality in Scotland.

Q4090 Jim McGovern: In the event of separation how would that be affected?

James Brokenshire: It would be for the Scottish Government to assess how they would want to replicate or create their own capabilities. Clearly, the Scottish police would not be able simply to continue to draw upon the NCA in the way that they do at the moment. The NCA’s focus would be the residual part of the UK. Of course it would co-operate and support, but it would be a different relationship. The Government of Scotland would need to put in place a number of its own capabilities to further strengthen the work of Police Scotland, given the recognised-

Q4091 Chair: Again, it would be helpful if you would give us a note of the capabilities that you believe would be lost or would have to be replicated in order that we can seek clarification on some of these points from the Scottish Government.

James Brokenshire: Okay, I will certainly take that away, Mr Davidson. Again, we can demonstrate the sorts of support that the NCA provides to Police Scotland and therefore give that indication of the type of additional capabilities perhaps that Police Scotland might-

Q4092 Chair: It is those capabilities that as part of the UK are accessed as of right and which, under separation, might be accessed as a favour. Alternatively, the Scottish Government might want to replicate those themselves. I am not entirely clear as we sit here what list of capabilities those would be and therefore how much it might cost to replicate them, notwithstanding the fact that we had a discussion earlier about the costs of replication. It would be helpful if you pointed us in that direction.

James Brokenshire: I am happy to write to the Committee to provide the full list of details of the additional and specialist services that the NCA provides. I would draw your attention to annex B of the paper, which sets out a number of the specialist capabilities that the NCA provides to UK policing. That will give you a flavour of the specialist work and additional support that the NCA does give. I am certainly very happy to reflect further if that would be helpful.

Q4093 Chair: Believe it or not, I have actually read this. I am one of the few people possibly in the whole country who has read this, but there is no indication in here of the scale of either set-up costs or running costs for these elements. Some help and guidance on these elements of it might be helpful.

James Brokenshire: I can tell you that for the National Crime Agency, for example, its budget for 2013-14-its spending power-is in the order of £494 million. That is the macro figure, of which £463 million is resource and £31 million is capital spend. That is the macro overall figure for the National Crime Agency, which perhaps will give you a sense of the scale and nature of the activities of the NCA.

Chair: When we have that, we can then feed it into what we get from the Home Office in looking at your provision for crime. I am conscious that there is going to be a vote at four o’clock. I know that there are a couple of questions at the end that we did want to deal with. Jim, if you wouldn’t mind, could we move to Lindsay to ask about borders, and, if we have time, we will come back to yours before the vote?

Jim McGovern: If I can say in defence of my Committee colleagues, I am sure that each and every one of us has read the paper in full.

Chair: I understand that some can recite substantial sections of it from memory, like Tam o’ Shanter and so on. At the moment we will not do that; we will just ask Lindsay to do a couple of questions.

Q4094 Lindsay Roy: In terms of border security, what new responsibilities would fall to a separate Scotland?

James Brokenshire: Clearly, as a separate country, if that were to hypothetically occur, a Scottish Government would need to take responsibility as an independent state and would be required to take control of their borders and establish the necessary systems and processes for managing these. The Government of the continuing UK and its institutions would no longer have responsibility or powers to manage Scotland’s borders.

Q4095 Lindsay Roy: What would that involve?

James Brokenshire: Obviously you have the direct points of entry and, as you arrive in the airport, all the front-end border force arrangements that you see there. It is also the issue on targeting against threat, which is where my focus lies from a security standpoint. For example, the White Paper talks about hot lists and being able to screen against that. It references the EU. The EU has information on travel bans, but that is a distinct and separate process. We have the National Border Targeting Centre that looks at passenger name records to seek to identify individuals who may be a threat and risk. We have a new arrangement that has been established under the pre-departure check scheme to prevent people from boarding aircraft in the first place.

It is an array of different responsibilities that you would potentially be looking at in respect of the establishment of separate border security arrangements. The National Crime Agency has its own borders command that looks at co-ordinating steps to combat organised criminality at the border, as well as the normal aspects that you would have on immigration control. It is something that we are examining in further detail in respect of borders, but that gives an idea of the sorts of challenges that would be involved.

Q4096 Lindsay Roy: So they are complex challenges?

James Brokenshire: Yes.

Q4097 Lindsay Roy: How is it influenced by whether or not Scotland is a member of the EU or signs up to Schengen?

James Brokenshire: As I say, I have indicated this one point on EU and lists of individuals of concern. That is something that, yes, may be informed by UN or EU travel bans and responsibilities that you hold as a country, but that is more of a domestic and national security responsibility that you would hold working with your intelligence and security agencies. On that level, it is difficult to see the distinction between EU and non-EU in those circumstances.

Clearly, the UK is not a member of Schengen and has no intention of becoming a member of Schengen. Therefore, it is difficult to discern the distinction that that draws, and it would be for the Scottish Government to seek application to join the EU. It is obviously for a Scottish state to determine independently its border policies. That would be affected by, for example, consideration of issues of borderless travel areas it may adjoin. There are implications that it would need to factor in, depending on whether it was a Schengen or non-Schengen member.

Q4098 Lindsay Roy: To what extent do you see issues around immigration?

James Brokenshire: There is separate consideration that we are giving to the borders issue more generally in our "Scotland Analysis". Therefore, my focus is on security rather than the immigration aspect, but it is something that I can say to this Committee we are examining and giving further consideration to in terms of the immigration implications for an independent Scotland.

Q4099 Lindsay Roy: What are these implications?

James Brokenshire: That is probably an evidence session in its own right in terms of some of the statements that are contained in the White Paper as to how the Scottish Government would seek to take a different immigration policy from the UK Government on flows of workers into the country and all the potential issues that may lead into on public services, welfare and all the issues on immigration that we are familiar with in some of the recent debates. It is for that reason that we are analysing this issue in further detail in respect of the broader immigration issues.

Q4100 Chair: I want to clarify whether or not there are specialist resources in Scotland at the moment for dealing with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. If they are not held in Scotland, would they then require to be created by a separate Scottish state?

James Brokenshire: I think you are right to fasten upon this point because CBRN-the ability to respond to chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear terrorist attack or incident-is one that the UK has given a great deal of focus and attention to over a number of years. Through the Model Response, as it is termed, which is a classified document, that work has resulted in a programme which has application across the UK. For example, it has as part of that 10,000 police officers trained to respond to a CBRN incident by 2010. It was one of the deliverables that was put in place around that. We have a national CBRN centre that offers a 24/7 operational approach to support the police with any incidents or queries where specialist advice is required. Again, that is something that would need to be addressed by an independent Scotland as to how it would need to respond to a CBRN incident.

Of course, as a separate neighbouring state, the remainder of the UK would have a direct interest in providing support, but it is something that an independent country would need to contemplate very clearly on the methods and the way in which it should respond to that.

Q4101 Chair: Could this not be something like the NATO nuclear umbrella? A separate Scotland could expel Trident but none the less remain in NATO and remain sheltered by the nuclear umbrella, and in the same way just look to the UK to provide free gratis chemical, biological and radiological assistance.

James Brokenshire: I am sure that assistance could be provided, but that is distinct from having an incident in your country and how you deal with that practically on the ground, the advice that you provide and the response that you give. Some of that may of course involve specialist equipment, but it is about personnel who are trained and are on the ground and ready to respond and deal with issues. Therefore, having a capability to address an incident of this kind would be important for an independent country.

Q4102 Chair: Could I clarify whether or not the personnel to deal with chemical or biological threats are present, spread throughout the entire United Kingdom with, say, an element in each police force and, in the event of a division, Scotland would have those resources, or are they all in a box somewhere waiting for an incident and, therefore, not presently in Scotland?

James Brokenshire: The trained police officers will be pan-UK. It is drawing upon a wide UK resource that is there. In the same way as breaking off a chunk, it would be very difficult to attribute a particular aspect to Scotland. That is not the way in which the preparations are being constructed. It is providing that national capability.

Q4103 Chair: But some of the officers will be in Scotland, for example. They will be Scotland police officers and, therefore, it is just a question of setting up a new hierarchy and superstructure, since the main assets-the people involved-are already there.

James Brokenshire: There will be some personnel but it is a question of capabilities and surge capacity, potentially, and how you manage that and deal with that.

Q4104 Chair: Surge capacity takes us back to the question of mutual support, does it not? Those are the same sorts of issues.

James Brokenshire: Yes.

Q4105 Chair: We are coming to a close. We normally ask the victims-the witnesses-at the end of the session whether there are any answers they had prepared to questions that we have not asked or anything they wish to unburden themselves of before leaving. I would extend that to you. Are there any points that you want to raise with us that you think we have omitted?

James Brokenshire: I think we have covered the broad range of issues and some of the complexities that are involved in this. In a concluding remark, there is this distinction between an integrated approach and a separated approach-the latter relies on good will, but that will only take you so far-and the benefits that we see of having that integration. You cannot separate a security union from a political union-a legal construct that allows and supports that. It is important to understand that a separate Scotland would lead to those very separated arrangements that clearly provide a level of assurance, but our judgment is that the existing arrangements work well and there is a recognition of that integrated approach that is currently operated. It is not about co-operating; it is about that sense of integration.

Q4106 Chair: Do I take it that GCHQ are of course listening to the conversations of the Scottish leadership and that, therefore, you are well aware of their negotiating position on all questions, and, indeed, a couple of members of the Scottish Cabinet are MI5 officers in disguise-or can you not tell me?

James Brokenshire: Mr Davidson, as the customary line has been of Governments over many years, we do not comment on intelligence matters.

Chair: Okay, we will take it as true then. Thank you very much.

Prepared 14th January 2014