THE UK Government has been accused of a "dereliction of duty" for not drawing up contingency plans for Britain's armed forces, including the future of the nuclear deterrent, in the event of Scotland becoming independent.

Lord West of Spithead, the former First Sea Lord who served as a Defence Minister in Gordon Brown's government, also told the House of Lords Economic Committee that were Scotland to become independent, then it would still, to all intents and purposes, be defended by the UK.

Lord MacGregor, the committee chairman, revealed how Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, had declined to give evidence, saying he had given his views on the prospect of Scottish independence to other committees but confirmed the Ministry of Defence was "not making plans" for Scottish independence.

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Lord West responded by saying he was "amazed" and "appalled" by this. "If this is really so, then it's a dereliction of duty. There are huge implications for the United Kingdom"

Lord West warned the extra £4 billion cost of moving the nuclear deterrent south of the Border could result in it not being replaced at all. He also suggested Scottish independence would result in the loss of 10,000 defence-related jobs.

Last night, Angus Robertson for the SNP – not represented on the committee – accused Lord West of "hypocritical scaremongering of the highest order".