​Independent Scotland wouldn’t be ready to monitor intelligence – report

Reuters/Kieran Doherty

The report argues that the Scottish government's proposals for oversight "may not be adequate to the task, or to the hopes of newly independent Scots."

A report by Edinburgh University identified three main challenges in terms of scrutinizing intelligence and security matters, should the country vote “Yes” in the referendum.

It found that Scottish parliamentarians lack expertise in the area and that an independent Scotland is likely to work closely with the UK's existing security and intelligence agencies.

"Given the difference in size and capability between a newly-independent Scotland and the remaining UK, it may be difficult for Scottish MSPs to hold the intelligence agencies of the UK to account in their interactions with Scotland," the report states.

The briefing continues: "There is little culture of the Scottish Parliament acting as a constitutional check and balance to the executive. Rather, it acts to enable and legitimize the Scottish Government. The Scottish Parliament committees rarely act against the government's interests."

The Scottish Government's white paper proposes to set up a single security and intelligence agency for Scotland on independence. It also states that the Scottish Parliament will continue to have 129 members.

They found that "the existing UK intelligence and security apparatus is likely to take a close interest and proactive role in the development of an independent Scottish system."

Cooperation between the rest of the UK and Scotland could be key. "It would be in no one's interests for any gaps or weaknesses to appear in the intelligence and security capabilities of our shared island," the briefing says.

The briefing adds, “The parliamentary-based system of intelligence and security oversight proposed by the white paper, largely modeled on Westminster, may not be adequate to the task or to the hopes of newly independent Scots."