Prime Minister Gordon Brown said yesterday an independent Scotland could not have bailed out its struggling banks.

He said the financial strength of the United Kingdom made a £37bn capital injection possible for banks including the Royal Bank of Scotland and HBOS.

The Prime Minister's comments came as the Scottish Government held a special cabinet meeting on the economy.

Mr Brown said: "It's the Union that makes this possible, that we are prepared to share the risks as well as the opportunities. And when things are difficult we are in a position to support each other - stronger together, weaker apart."

He said banks would be rebuilt "over time" to preserve the banking legacy of Scottish financial institutions.

Asked if the bailout undermined the argument for independence in Scotland, he told BBC Radio Scotland: "This is not the time for party political points. The important thing is that we were able to act decisively with £37bn. That would not have been possible with a Scottish administration.

"We've seen the problems in Iceland, we've seen the problems in Ireland.

"We were able to put the whole strength of the United Kingdom's resources behind these two banks and I think it's important because I value the Scottish banking tradition. I think everybody does."

At the special "economic cabinet" meeting, the Scottish Government agreed a six-point plan' to respond to the growing economic crisis designed, it said, to help business and households through difficult times ahead.

The plan has two strands, to boost development and to help households.

The six points are: l Re -profile capital spending - with a view to bring forward some projects in the second and third year of the current spending plan to the first year.

l Tourism - further intensify the Year of Homecoming celebrations, in a bid to turn what could be a downturn into a boom.

l Business advice - investigate current services offered by the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise, and simplify the planning system for businesses.

l Energy efficiency - Look at improving existing measures and provide better advice.

l Financial advice - Offer households advice on what extra benefits they might be entitled to.

l Combat fuel poverty - by augmenting and enhancing existing provision.

For the capital projects, the government said it was looking at all available options, which could mean some being done under PPP, rather than waiting for the Scottish Futures Trust.

A series of announcements from individual cabinet secretaries is expected on each point in the coming weeks. A spokesman for the First Minister said: "We have been through and indeed are still in a very difficult time in relation to the banking sector.

"People have pulled together across parties and administrations to secure the future. In the short course the wider economy is going to be impacted upon. It is essential we look at every opportunity. This is of real urgency in relation to jobs in the real economy."

Responding to the Prime Minster declaring the rescue package was only possible within the Union, he added that any attempt to dismiss the efforts of small independent countries was "foolish", citing Ireland being first to guarantee all deposits and Norway having access to a £200bn oil fund.

Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: "The continuing problems in the global financial sector, general slowdown in the international economy and continued price inflation are real problems for Scottish business.

"This is a time for international action and we call on all parties, both in Scotland and the rest of the UK to support the current UK Government policies and to support international rather than narrow national action.

"If the current UK initiatives are successful then there is more chance of the recession being shorter and shallower."