Security Agency Proposals Set Out

"Ensuring that Scotland is secure will be the primary responsibility of the Scottish Government'', its white paper on independence states.

Much of Scotland's home security is already devolved through its single police force and separate justice system, but national security and intelligence remains reserved to Westminster.

The SNP says it will make "a significant level of investment'' in setting up an independent Scottish security agency, paid for by money it expects to receive for Scotland's "substantial existing capital stake from our investment in UK intelligence infrastructure''.

But the UK Government warns that Scotland's independent intelligence agency would not be as well-funded as UK security.

"The Scottish Government's proposed budget of £2.5 billion per year for both defence and security compares unfavourably with UK spending of around £33 billion for defence and over £2 billion per year for the security and intelligence agencies and the National Cyber Security Programme,'' its Scotland Analysis security paper states.

The SNP expects there to be joint working with the UK security service in the early period after independence, which "will deliver a seamless transition'' to an independent Scottish security agency and will continue to share information in "a strong relationship of sovereign equals''.

The White Paper states: "Some commentators have questioned whether the UK would choose to share intelligence with Scotland.

"However, as the Westminster Government's Scotland Analysis: Security made clear: 'It is clearly in the UK's interests to be surrounded by secure and resilient neighbouring countries, including - in the event of a Yes vote - an independent Scottish state'.''

But Westminster goes on to say that "the continuing UK would not be in a position to protect Scottish interests as it does presently''.

Immigration control is another feature of Scottish security that is reserved, much to the annoyance of the SNP, who say it does not take into account Scotland's economic circumstances.

Scotland needs to attract more than 20,000 immigrants a year to contribute towards public services and pensions, its economists say.

The SNP says it would free up universities to attract international students, insisting no independent Scottish Government would have conceived of the recent "go home'' campaign.

But the threat of a divergent immigration policy has led Westminster to raise the prospect of establishing border posts at Gretna, to prevent Scotland becoming a soft entry point for immigration into the remainder of the UK.

However, the SNP say it will negotiate cross-border arrangements "that are as efficient and effective as the current arrangements'', particularly in relation to law enforcement.

While the majority of justice issues are devolved, the SNP says it would do more with the additional powers it would receive under independence, including introducing random alcohol breath tests on the roads "any time, anywhere'', tighter regulation of gambling and a more "coherent'' system of drugs classification.

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