By Martin Kelly
A report to be published by a group of MPs has been dismissed as merely an extension of the anti-Independence campaign after it emerged key evidence given by expert witnesses had been ignored.
Ahead of the publication of the report by the Scottish Affairs Committee - Newsnet Scotland has learned that the report’s conclusions excludes evidence which show Scotland’s defence industries would remain highly competitive with independence.

The SNP has accused the exclusively Unionist cross party group of MPs headed by Labour MP Ian Davidson, which looked into what it termed ‘The Referendum on Separation for Scotland’, of deliberately omitting the evidence because it does not fit the committee’s anti-independence agenda.

The nationalists have also claimed the report ignores the massive reductions in defence spending and jobs in Scotland over recent years in order to avoid criticising Labour and Tory governments.

Missing from the report are statements from MPs in which it is claimed that Scottish yards would still be able to compete for defence contracts, even from south of the border.

In June last year, MP Peter Luff told the committee: "The Scottish defence industry is very competitive. They may well win many of these contracts because they are fine businesses, but they will be competing internationally in those circumstances."

Another to give evidence was Vice Admiral Andrew Mathews who confirmed that the UK Government would retain the option to continue the construction of Navy vessels on the Clyde after Scotland became independent.

Giving evidence in December, the Vice Admiral was asked by Committee Chair Ian Davidson whether ships could be built on the Clyde if Scotland left the United Kingdom, Vice-Admiral Andrews said: "I think that is absolutely the case".

Pressed by Davidson if this meant that construction of MoD orders already placed with a Clyde based yard would continue in the event of independence, Vice-Admiral Mathews added: "What I’m saying is that is one of the options open to us".

Ian Godden, former chairman of defence industry body ADS argued that defence contracts had moved from being national to international and pointed to the example of the Typhoon aircraft where the radar is being partly built in Scotland.  He pointed out that the project was a joint one between the UK, France and Germany.

Speaking in November, he told the committee: "My attitude is that, if a country is serious about investing and serious about the engineering skill base that is required and maintains that, it can maintain a position in the defence industry and be industrial because of a capability, and I believe very strongly that Scotland has an engineering capability that is quite attractive to others. It is not just policy and politics that determines the work; it is where the skill base is. There are periscopes in Glasgow."

Another expert, Francis Tusa, challenged claims that nuclear warheads could not be moved to a location in England should Scotland vote for independence.

"All the Trident submarines are maintained in Devonport, which means that they have to be able to go into the port.  It is dredged to allow them to do that. In terms of physically finding a berth which has got nuclear regulations and all those safety things in place, Devonport fits the bill.  There is no reason why any of those submarines could not move to Devonport as soon as they could raise steam in their boilers." He told the committee.

He added: "As regards the warheads, one thing that is forgotten is that substantial numbers of warheads are kept on a daily basis in Aldermaston and Burghfield because that is where they are maintained.  I gather through various sources that there are spare facilities at the moment; they are not being used. 

"You could take some of the warheads stored at the moment in Coulport down to Aldermaston and Burghfield.  Inquiries with various people and services since I appeared in front of the House of Commons Scottish committee have indicated that armaments depots at Keinton, and Longtown just across the border, either have or very recently had nuclear certificates.  Therefore, if it was a very recent nuclear certificate, recertifying it will not take that long."
Commenting on what he described as the selective report from the Westminster committee Angus Roberston MP, the SNP’s Defence and Foreign Affairs Spokesman said:

"Rarely can the publication of a Westminster report have been so discredited in advance as this one from the Scottish Affairs Select Committee.

"The sad fact is that this committee is operating as an extension of the No campaign.
"The report adds nothing to the debate on Scotland’s constitutional future, and even the most cursory glance through it will reveal it as flawed at every level.

"Key evidence which does not fit with the anti-independence view has been excluded, just as it has excluded the facts on the number of defence jobs lost in Scotland under the Westminster, or the fact that Scotland contributes £3.3 billion to defence spending right now but receives only some £2 billion of that spending in return.  And independent Scotland with a defence budget of £2.5 billion - half a billion more than we get from Westminster - means more jobs and economic activity in Scotland.

"Under Westminster control Scotland's service personnel has been cut by 27.9 per cent between 2000 and 2010, when it was only 11.6% across the UK. Successive Westminster governments oversaw the destruction of the Scottish regiments and contributed to a massive £7.4bn defence underspend in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK.
"The sad truth is, this discredited report has been a waste of taxpayers' money, funding what is little more than the opinions of a group anti-independence politicians who could have written their conclusions on day one of the process, and saved a lot of time and public money.

"A variety of expert witness testimony has either been binned, ignored or airbrushed out simply because it did not meet with the Chairman’s views. This shows enormous disrespect not just to those who appeared – but also to the people of Scotland, who will be appalled that so much of the evidence that was given in good faith was excluded.

"This includes expert and senior naval personnel such as Vice Admiral Matthews, who said that it is 'clearly an option' that Westminster could still order ships from yards on the Clyde in an independent Scotland.

"And defence expert and former chairman of Aerospace, Defence and Security (ADS) body Ian Godden made it clear that Scotland has an 'attractive' engineering capability, and that 'it is where the skill base is' that determines where work goes.  The people of Scotland won’t be fooled by this one-sided No campaign report.  Even a coalition Defence Minister had to agree that co-operative defence arrangements following independence is perfectly possible.

"Only with a Yes vote on September 18th 2014 will Scotland get a defence policy that meets our needs - which includes the removal of Trident weapons of mass destruction from the Clyde with savings for Scottish taxpayers of billions of pounds, as well as a full complement of conventional forces which will recognise Scotland’s strong and proud tradition of military service."


# Ready to Start 2013-04-08 06:35
More taxpayers money used to advance the NO campaign.

I looked in vain this morning for any TV or press coverage of the dubious donations to the Bitter Together campaign.

Surely all the press and TV headlines this morning should be NO campaign under pressure over donations.

The largest donor Ian Taylor CEO of Vitol plc who gave £500,000 is London based and doesn't have a vote in the referendum. Vitol plc has a dubious history (try Googling it).

The second largest donor author CJ Sansom also can't vote in the referendum so almost two thirds of the No campaign's money comes from people who can't vote in the referendum.

In making his excuses for not debating with Alex Salmond, David Cameron said that the debate should be by people IN Scotland.

# gerrydotp 2013-04-08 07:04
I heard Davidson's soundbite on Clyde 2 this morning. Shrill scaremongering. I'm e mailing Clyde 2 to remind them that the Scottish Grand Committee is a part of the UK government which is fighting for its survival, and we don't need Radio Clyde being used as a mouthpiece for their propaganda. God knows it's bad enough what with the newspapers and the Beeb don't need our scottish radio media joining in as well.
# clootie 2013-04-08 07:21
We pay for the BBC's propaganda against us.
We pay for this type of bias by the unionists dressed as a committee.

Sometimes I think we are stupid.
# Davy 2013-04-08 09:05
A 'waste of time' report from a 'waste of time' committee.
# bringiton 2013-04-08 09:07
Turkeys and Christmas come to mind.It is noticeable that the most vociferous opponents of separation are those people whose jobs may be on the line.If it looks like a stitch up and sounds like one then...
# soarsa 2013-04-08 10:45
This the same Ian Davidson that did not vote against the bedroom tax but still turned up at the rally last saturday and tried to tell folks that he had voted against it. We need to a concerted action to oust this charlatan for what he is.
# CharlieObrien 2013-04-08 11:02
That is why the only SNP member was bullied out of the committee,and kept out.Scotland needs MP,s from Scotland to fight for Scotland but they don't they only have themselves and the Westminster party in their minds.I do not believe that there is three main Westminster parties just the one Westminster Party with three names,so that our thoughts are that one name is fighting for us but its not.Wake up there is only ourselves that can fix it for all the people,aye even those not able to see what is going on.Scottish independence will also enable our friends and relatives in the south to get a better government.
# proudscot 2013-04-08 11:28
I wonder what the "Separashun Committee" chairman Davidson and indeed the BBC and our unionist propaganda spreading press here in Scotland, would have to say if Sean Connery donated half a million to the pro-independence Yes campaign?
# UpSpake 2013-04-08 11:43
There is no more need for a Scottish Affairs Committee in the UK parliament any more than there is a need for a Secretary of State.
All the more so for the fact that all these two posts do is to act in an anti-Scottish way to the detriment of not only the wishes and aspirations of the people of Scotland but, in the face of our duly elected majority administration currently led by the SNP.
By engaing with these entities all that is being done is re-inforcing their demand for legitimacy where none should exist.
A good start would be for the Scots parliament to declare them, irrelevent null and void.
# Adrian B 2013-04-08 12:02
Thatchers died.
# maisiedotts 2013-04-08 12:36
Well it had to happen sometime she was a very old woman.

I suspect the Tories will now go into meltdown with OTT tributes, eulogies etc to one of the most destructive PMs this country has ever seen. Thatcher Milk Snatcher was one of the more polite names she gained, this I know having lived in a mining area during her 'reign'. Not for her an old folks home stinking of pee etc oh no her last days spent in the Ritz with private nursing care ......... says it all.

Sorry mods not like me to have no sympathy for a stroke victim but there's too much water under that particular bridge.
# bringiton 2013-04-08 13:04
No friend of Scotland.
# mountaincadre 2013-04-08 12:17
We should not celebrate the passing of a human life, but niether should mourn the passing of a tyrant.
# From The Suburbs 2013-04-08 12:28
BBC Radio Scotland has Alan Cochrane with the old chestnut that SNP votes put Mrs Thatcher in power.
Like Gordon Brown in 2008, Callaghan had a chance to go to the country in October 1978 but "bottled" it and following the Winter of Discontent with union led strikes and power cuts there was absolutely no chance of Labour winning a general election even if they had stayed on to the bitter end in October 1979.

Despite the rigged referendum in March 1979 producing a yes vote for a Scottish Assembly the Labour government refused to implement the majority wishes of the Scottish people.
The Liberals then formally ended the "pact" which had sustained Labour since 1977.

In March 28th 1979 the no confidence vote was lost due to absence of Labour's Sir Alfred Broughton, who was too ill to attend and the unexpected non voting of two Irish republican MPs who normally supported Labour but were doubled crossed over boundary changes.
# govanite 2013-04-08 12:59
Thanks, worth remembering the facts of those times.
# James01 2013-04-08 13:04
The gushing from the London media about Thatcher was making me feel rather ill, so I turned it off. London Labour have just issued an order to their MPs that they should be respectful in their response, so expect a lot of 'great leader' and 'sorely missed' comments from Scottish Labour MPs.
# BRL 2013-04-08 14:10
If this report is deliberately missing out testimony and evidence from witness/ experts, which were called by the Committee, it is surely incomplete and if it does not match the undoubtedly available minuted comments held on record, it should be challenged.

I am sure it has cost us the taxpayers a great amount to date and if there is not a scrutiny body responsible for upkeeping the standards of HoC committees, there should be one created right now to investigate this.

Would this be a matter for the SNP in Westminster to demand of the Speaker, or does it need a constituent of wherever, in Scotland, or indeed anywhere in the UK to insist that an investigation is started?

It is surely, something of acute concern to the supporters of the UK Parliamentary system, that committees operating under their auspices, do so in a proper manner, which undoubtedly includes the report that Committee thereby will make to Parliament.
# proudscot 2013-04-08 16:55
Hold the front page, From the Suburbs, Alan Cochrane makes yet another ill-informed attack on the SNP??? "Shurely shome mishtake," as 007 would say.
# geordiemac 2013-04-08 18:40
I have tried to raise this issue and the No campaign donors in the comments section in Dundee Courier. No reaction so far. Maybe there is not a great online community for the Courier.There have been a few balanced articles in the Courier which I assume is a Unionist paper. Any suggestions?
# williemacewan 2013-04-08 21:33
Worth remembering also that all the Lib MPs voted to bring Callaghan down and there was a lot more of them than there was of SNP MPs so the charge is dishonest

I actually believe Thatcher in power showed scotland exactly how little power and protection it had and was asignificant factor in our onward progress towards independence

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