Page last updated at 12:29 GMT, Saturday, 18 October 2008 13:29 UK

Salmond questions HBOS takeover

First Minister Alex Salmond
Mr Salmond is concerned about the impact of the HBOS/ Lloyds TSB deal

Alex Salmond has called for quick clarification on whether money offered to bail out banks would be available if HBOS remained independent.

The first minister made the remarks in a BBC Scotland webcast.

He wanted to know if the cash was dependent on the proposed HBOS merger with Lloyds TSB.

It was his clearest hint yet that he would prefer a different solution to the HBOS crisis and he stated a takeover risked jobs.

He said: "A few weeks ago the Lloyds TSB offer was the only game in town. Now we're in a situation where the government has decided to secure the financial sector through recapitalisation.

"So the central question is - is that recapitalisation available to HBOS as a bank itself?

"We're working on getting an answer to that, or is it contingent of the merger taking place?

"I think a very clear answer to that question will allow us to develop the point further.

Independent 'best'

He added that if the merger went ahead there was a risk to jobs, decision making in Scotland and the range of activities provided by HBOS.

Mr Salmond said: "Now with so much at stake and indeed now so much public money involved I think we've got the right to ask, 'Is this in the public interest of Scotland?'

"And to be able to establish that question then we've go to find out is the capitalisation available to HBOS as an independent.

"It was always my view that the best position for HBOS was as an independent organisation. Once we find out if the bank is secure through recapitalisation then I think we can make decisions."

The majority of viewers questions were about the economy.

All countries large and small are affected by this
Alex Salmond

Polly in Edinburgh raised the question of the "Arc of Prosperity" nations previously highlighted by the SNP as good examples of small, thriving, independent countries.

She said they were struggling and why would an independent Scotland be any different?

Mr Salmond defended the small nations.

He said: "If we take Finland, Denmark and Norway first - these are countries in Europe which have forecast to avoid recession.

"Ireland took early action to guarantee its bank deposits, stabilise the banking sector. Yes it's going into recession, but it's going in in a much better, prosperous basis than the UK.

"Iceland has very particular problems.

"But all countries large and small are affected by this."

Raised eyebrows

He predicted that an independent Scotland would have survived the credit crunch.

On other matters, Ken Hunter in Edinburgh asked if he was looking forward to working with David Cameron after the next Westminster elections.

Mr Salmond replied: "He doesn't seem to be looking forward to working with me very much.

"He said I was a dangerous man or something like that.

"I think many of the things the UK Government does, whether Gordon Brown or David Cameron, is dangerous.

"My position is that obviously you co-operate with whoever is elected as prime minister."

On a more lighter note, he told Emma Cowan in Edinburgh that he had not recently dyed his eyebrows, promised Scott in Inverclyde he would get him Sean Connery's autograph and revealed to Richard Pyle in Perth that what made him cry was coming across ordinary people who had done exceptional things.

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Full Q&A session with Alex Salmond MSP




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