Dr Craig Dalzell: The UK “will take the debt” in the event of Scottish independence


White Paper Project launches consultation on independent Scottish currency at IdeaSpace

DR CRAIG DALZELL has told an audience of SNP delegates that the UK will take on Scotland’s debts in the event of Scottish Independence.

The lead researcher on the White Paper Project (WPP), speaking at its launch at the IdeaSpace fringe festival, said that as the successor state the UK would be obliged to take on the whole state’s debts, placing Scotland in a strong bargaining position.

The WPP is a vehicle to provide a more detailed and thorough prospectus for how an independent Scotland would be organised than that offered by the Scottish Government white paper of 2013.

Dalzell said: “The UK will be the successor state, it will take the debt.”

“During the negotiations we can secure what we want against taking on those debts.”

Background read: Think tank report claims independent Scotland could save billions in assets

The WPP, which has been initiated by the Common Weal think tank and which will be opened to public consultation in the lead-up to the Scottish Independence Convention conference in Glasgow in January, has already been the subject of two policy papers.

One of these papers, ‘Claiming Scotland’s Assets’ argues that Scotland should adopt an ‘additive’ model of negotiations over debt and assets, where the UK successor state assumes debts and the new state accepts them back on the basis of basis of assets.

“If Scotland becomes independent things change. When it comes to the division of debts and assets…we think we can save £2bn a year on debt repayments.

“You could save about a billion on the military, easily.

“If you fix Scotland’s income distribution problems, that’s a couple of billion in savings as well.”

Dalzell went on to say that there would be “many areas” where savings could be made to reduce the Scottish deficit through the process of establishing a new state.

CommonWeal director Robin McAlpine, who spoke alongside Dalziel at the launch, said that in a future referendum the Scottish independence movement “should be open” about costs of a new state, and be prepared to back up that state with an independent currency free to make its own deciions.

He said: “We need to have the fully fleshed out plan for an independent currency with it’s own central bank.”

“We need to have the fully fleshed out plan for an independent currency with it’s own central bank.” Robin McAlpine

This would be backed up, he said, by “a currency board of around 15bn”.

Speaking on how Scotland could bablance it’s book during negotiations, he said: “We can refinance some of this 15 or 20 year old debt by paying it to rUK immediately and borrowing it from elsewhere at historic low interest rates.”

The importance of these ideas and the WPP, he said, was that many No voters in 2014 were genuinely unconvinced that difficult questions had been answered about the status of the newly independent Scotland.

“There were a large proportion of No voters who simply felt that the work hadn’t been done,” he said.

A whole host of policy areas including the construction of a new civil service, tax agency, borders, national treaties and membership of international organisations needed to be explored he argued, in order to formulate a “consolidated business plan for an independent Scotland”.

During the event a show of hands indicated overwhelming support for an independent Scottish currency over the pound or the euro.

Picture: CommonSpace

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