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The Defence Implications of Possible Scottish Independence - Defence Committee Contents

1  Introduction

1. In May 2012, we announced a new inquiry into the defence implications of possible Scottish independence.

Scope of the inquiry

2. We announced the following terms of reference on 29 June 2012:

  • The current contribution of Scotland to the overall defence of the United Kingdom in terms not only of specific items but of shared facilities and goals;
  • the implications for that defence should Scotland become independent, including those for personnel currently serving in the Armed Forces;
  • the means and timescale of any necessary separation;
  • whether and how any defence shortfall might be made good;
  • the extent to which, and circumstances in which, an independent Scotland might continue to contribute to defence goals shared with other parts of these islands and other countries; and
  • the possible shape and size and role of Scottish defence forces following independence.

3. Our aim was to contribute to the debate about the implications for the defence and security of Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom should the Scottish people vote for independence. Mindful of the fact that the Committee does not have representation from the Scottish National Party (SNP), we sought instead to engage with the Scottish Government directly to explore its emerging policy proposals. We are grateful for the willingness of the Scottish Government to contribute to our inquiry. In our report, we have not made recommendations to the Scottish Government, but have identified questions which we believe remain to be answered.

4. Following publication of the Scottish Government's White Paper on independence, we intend to follow up the questions raised during our inquiry and will invite the Scottish Government to respond directly to any outstanding issues which require clarification.

5. As part of our inquiry we held four oral evidence sessions, and received 20 pieces of written evidence. Members of the Committee also conducted a fact-finding visit to Scotland in March 2013. Informal meetings were held at: HM Naval Base Clyde (Faslane and Coulport); BAE Systems, Scotstoun, Glasgow; Redford Barracks, Edinburgh; Rosyth Dockyard; and RAF Lossiemouth. We are grateful to all who assisted us in the course of our inquiry, to our Specialist Advisers for their advice and insight, and to our staff.[1]

6. Where appropriate, we have also drawn upon evidence received, and reports prepared, by other Select Committees, most notably the Scottish Affairs Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee, which have also inquired into the implications of possible Scottish independence.


7. In May 2011, the SNP won an overall majority of seats in the Scottish Parliamentary elections and formed the Scottish Government. In its manifesto, the SNP had stated that it would bring forward proposals "to give Scots a vote on full economic powers through an independence referendum".[2]

8. On 15 October 2012, the Prime Minister and First Minister signed an agreement that committed the UK and Scottish Governments to work together to allow the Scottish Parliament to hold a single question referendum on independence before the end of 2014.[3] On 21 March 2013, First Minister Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP announced that the referendum would take place on 18 September 2014.[4]

9. According to the Scottish Government's consultation on proposals for a referendum on independence "a white paper drawing together the Scottish Government's proposals for independence will be published in November 2013".[5]


10. In keeping with reports produced by other House of Commons Select Committees and other organisations, in our report we have used the abbreviation 'rUK' as a shorthand way of referring to the 'remainder of the UK', the State which, in the event of Scottish independence, would comprise England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

1   For the interests of advisers, see Formal Minutes of the Defence Committee, 13 July 2010, 13 September 2011, 29 February 2012, 11 June 2013, 2 July 2013, and 17 July 2013. Back

2   Scottish National Party manifesto 2011, votesnp.com/campaigns/SNP_Manifesto_2011_lowRes.pdf Back

3   Agreement between the United Kingdom Government and the Scottish Government on a referendum on independence for Scotland, webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130109092234/http://www.number10.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Agreement-final-for-signing.pdf  Back

4   Scottish Parliament Official Report, 21 March 2013, Col. 18119 Back

5   Scottish Government, Your Scotland, Your Referendum, www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0038/00386123.pdf  Back

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