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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 November 2006, 19:24 GMT
'Longer life' under independence
Older people
The SNP claim investment under independence would lengthen lives
People in an independent Scotland would be healthier and live longer, according to the Scottish National Party.

Leader Alex Salmond has been discussing Norwegian health investment with political and business leaders in Oslo.

Life expectancy in Scotland is three years shorter than in Norway, but Mr Salmond said this gap could be closed within a decade of independence.

However, Labour claimed the bill for separating from the UK would cost taxpayers billions of pounds.

Norwegian health measures include individual waiting time guarantees and free fruit for schoolchildren.

By building a fairer, wealthier and healthier Scotland, we will match Norwegian life expectancy
Alex Salmond
SNP leader

Men in Scotland have an average life expectancy of 74.2 years compared with 77.1 years for men in Norway, while Scottish women live to 79.3 years compared with Norway's 82.

Mr Salmond said: "Independent Norway is in so many ways a good role model for Scotland and there is no reason why we cannot match Norway in the ultimate test of better health - life expectancy.

"It is my ambition and aim that within a decade of independence, by building a fairer, wealthier and healthier Scotland, we will match Norwegian life expectancy."

The SNP leader was also holding talks about Norway's oil investment fund, which he said could be mirrored using funds from North Sea oil and gas.

Norway, which has a similar population size to Scotland and is also an oil producer, has just been voted the best country to live by the United Nations.

Mr Salmond said Norway's fund had risen to 123bn - about 25,000 per head of population.

The only way the SNP could pay for this shortfall would be to either raise taxes or make drastic cuts to schools and hospitals
George Foulkes
Labour

Scotland could have a similar fund within 10 years, worth 100bn, he said.

However, Labour's George Foulkes said the SNP's plans would require tax rises.

He said: "Breaking up Britain would remove billions of pounds from the public service budget in Scotland.

"The only way the SNP could pay for this shortfall would be to either raise taxes or make drastic cuts to schools and hospitals."

During his visit to Norway, Mr Salmond was also putting forward ideas for co-operation between the Scottish Executive and the Norwegian government to create a North Sea "electricity super-grid".

The grid would allow electricity generated from wind, tidal and wave power off the coasts of Scotland and Norway to be exported direct to continental energy markets.

The SNP leader also plans to visit Iceland and Ireland - small nations which, he said, also outpace Scotland for economic growth.


SEE ALSO
SNP small business tax cut pledge
12 Oct 06 |  Scotland
'Prepare for power' says Salmond
11 Oct 06 |  Scotland
SNP pledges green home power plan
11 Oct 06 |  Scotland
SNP argues against centralisation
22 Nov 04 |  Scotland

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