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Last Updated: Monday, 12 September 2005, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Papers reveal oil fears over SNP
Oil rig - generic
Oil revenues would have made Scotland a powerful player in Europe
A secret Whitehall dossier written 30 years ago has revealed that Labour ministers were concerned about the case for Scottish independence.

The information was kept confidential at the time to keep Nationalism at bay.

The paper was obtained by the Scottish National Party under freedom of information legislation.

Written by a leading government economist in 1974, it sets out how oil would have given Scotland one of the strongest currencies in Europe.

The report by Professor Gavin McCrone also stated that Scotland would have had "embarrassingly" large tax surpluses.

'Industrial desert'

But Dr McCrone's projections for independence were kept secret because of Labour's fears about a surge in SNP popularity.

The report shows officials advising ministers about how to take "the wind out of the SNP sails".

This is a fundamental lie that the people of Scotland have been spun for 30 years
Kenny MacAskill
SNP

Kenny MacAskill, of the Scottish National Party, said the report was proof of 30 years of official lies, cover-ups and betrayal.

He added that it showed how much Scotland would have benefited from independence and oil.

He said that in the 30 years since the report, Scotland had suffered low economic growth and manufacturing decline while at the same time oil wealth had "transformed" Canadian provinces and Arabian shiekdoms.

"Some have chosen when they've discovered oil to make the desert bloom and the tragedy was that in 30 years in some areas of Scotland, the UK Government has created an industrial desert," he said.

Service cuts

Mr MacAskill insisted that, with prices rising rapidly, oil was now "on the agenda" and he claimed an independent Scotland "would never be richer".

He added: "I would first of all like to have an apology from the UK Government for lying to us.

"We're not talking about something that's negligible.

"This is a fundamental lie that the people of Scotland have been spun for 30 years - that we were too wee, we couldn't do it, that the oil was going to run out - when they knew for 30 years that Scotland was sitting on a bountiful presence that would have transformed our economy for the better."

However Scottish Secretary Alistair Darling dismissed the document.

He said: "This is typical of the Nationalists, looking back to the past. This document is 30 years old.

"The fact is that all recent figures show an independent Scotland would have a fiscal deficit even if oil revenues are taken into account. That would mean cuts in public services."


SEE ALSO:
Hundreds use new information act
13 Feb 05 |  Scotland
Act brings freedom of information
01 Jan 05 |  Scotland
Information Act brought forward
09 Jun 03 |  Scotland
Bid to end 'culture of secrecy'
28 Sep 01 |  Scotland


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