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Defence industry 'could survive split'

Scotland's defence industry could survive independence despite predictions that leaving the UK would end the industry, according to experts.

MPs on the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee heard the international nature of defence contracts meant there were few "national contracts" any more.

Only between 50% to 80% of current Scottish defence contracts are dependent on UK backing, they were told. Parts of the Typhoon aircraft built in Scotland are sold to Saudi Arabia.

Defence expert Ian Godden told MPs: "In the end [with] actual contracts there is no such thing as a national contract.

"Scotland can maintain its position in defence interests because there is an industrial capability and engineering capability that Scotland has got which makes it attractive."

But he also warned Scotland would not get a "free lunch" and would have to invest its own money in international large-scale defence contracts.

Earlier, Coalition ministers suggested 50,000 defence jobs were at risk under independence.

Labour's Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy also warned in a speech that independence would "shut" shipyards on the Clyde.

The Coalition has warned thousands of jobs would be at risk under independence as they would no longer be able to place orders with Scottish yards if they were not part of the UK.

But the SNP has always denied that independence would mean the end of the Scottish defence industry.

SNP defence spokesman and Westminster leader Angus Robertson said: "This reflects the positive vision that the SNP has for the defence industry in Scotland and exposes the naked scaremongering of the anti-independence parties."

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