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MPs claim independence would reduce Scotland's influence

INDEPENDENCE would diminish Scotland's role in helping poorer countries, meaning it would no longer be able to make a "transformational" contribution to international development, MPs said today.

A report from the Commons International Development Committee also noted how taking Scotland's contribution out of the UK's aid budget would reduce it by around £1 billion in 2016 - the year the SNP Government hopes Scotland would become independent.

It added that there would, over time, be a threat to hundreds of jobs at the Department for International Development's base in East Kilbride as an independent Scotland would have a comparatively smaller aid operation.

"DFID is a world leader in its field and, as a big player on the world stage, the UK also wields considerable influence in multilateral organisations," said Sir Malcolm Bruce, the committee chairman.

"As part of the UK, Scotland makes a tremendous contribution to all this. Scots have served as development ministers in the UK Government and three Scottish MPs, including myself, sit on the International Development Committee. If Scotland were to become an independent country, its development agency would be a much smaller player," he said.

Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, said an independent Scotland would lose much of its power to transform the lives of those in extreme poverty.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "To suggest countries of Scotland's size cannot have a transformational role in international development is simply wrong."

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