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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 February 2007, 17:58 GMT
Call for 1bn defence budget cut
Trident submarine
The Trident nuclear submarine fleet is based at Faslane
A senior Nationalist MSP is calling for a 1bn cut in the defence budget in an independent Scotland.

Alex Neil said he wanted a large chunk of Scotland's 2.8bn share of UK defence spending to be redirected to the fight against child poverty.

The Central Scotland MSP said scrapping Trident and withdrawing troops from Iraq would cut costs, leaving enough money to open new military bases.

However, Labour described his proposals as "irresponsible".

Mr Neil hopes his party will adopt his defence proposals as official policy for the forthcoming Holyrood election.

He told the BBC's Politics Show that an independent Scotland should have a defence policy which was non-nuclear and non-aggressive.

National wealth

He said the UK was facing a "double whammy" over the next two decades, having to maintain the Trident weapons system and pay for its successor.

Scrapping Trident would save Scotland hundreds of millions of pounds each year, he estimated.

He believes an independent Scotland should spend about 2% of its national wealth on defence.

However, the vice chairman of Labour's election campaign, George Foulkes said the proposals showed there was "a high cost to separation".

"The SNP will cost Scottish families more," he claimed.

"Their irresponsible tax and spend agenda will mean higher taxes and cuts to schools and hospitals."

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