Scotland 'Could Help Cut Poverty'

26 June 2014, 06:36 | Updated: 26 June 2014, 06:39

An independent Scotland could have a "dramatic impact'' on reducing poverty in the developing world, the International Development Minister has claimed.

Humza Yousaf said that countries of Scotland's size could still make "huge changes'' to the lives of people in poorer nations.

The Scottish Government has pledged to meet the United Nation's target of spending 0.7% of Gross National Income on aid if there is a Yes vote in the independence referendum, with this to be enshrined in legislation if the country votes to leave the UK.

Speaking ahead of appearing before MSPs on Holyrood's European and External Relations Committee, Mr Yousaf said: "We know that countries of Scotland's size can make huge changes to the lives of people in the developing world. Independent countries such as Norway, Sweden, Finland and Ireland all rank higher than the UK in the Centre for Global Development's Commitment to Development Index.

"An independent Scotland could have a dramatic impact in reducing poverty and improving lives in the developing world. With independence, Scotland is committed to meeting the United Nation's target of spending 0.7% of Gross National Income on aid - and to enshrining that commitment in law.''

He argued that independence would allow Scotland to develop a "controlled immigration system'' that better meets the country's needs.

In addition Mr Yousaf said Scotland's smaller size and "specific national interest'' would allow for a ``more focused approach'' to foreign policy.

"There are inherent advantages in being a smaller, well-governed, independent state with the ability to respond to developments and with the scale to bring national institutions and civic society together quickly,'' he stated.

"By focusing our diplomatic efforts flexibly on key national priorities, Scotland will not require the same scale of diplomatic service as the UK currently maintains.

"An independent Scotland would not need to replicate the structure of the Westminster Government or adopt its processes. Scotland's smaller size and specific national interests mean that we can adopt a more focused approach to the design and delivery of foreign policies.''

He went on: "Scotland's needs are different to those in the rest of the UK and independence will enable Scotland to build a controlled immigration system that fully meets our own social, economic and demographic needs. In addition an independent Scotland would have one of the most humane asylum systems in the world for those fleeing persecution and looking to seek safety and refuge in Scotland.''