AN INDEPENDENT Scotland would distribute an international aid budget of £1.5 billion a year under plans outlined by the SNP's External Affairs Minister Humza Yousaf.

Mr Yousaf said Scotland would aim to spend 1% of national income helping some of the world's poorest countries.

The pledge equates to about £1.5bn, based on an estimated gross national income of £150bn.

Mr Yousaf said: "We would essentially go from having a budget as we have now of £9 million ... to a budget of hundreds of millions." He said the aim would be to invest 1% of national income, significantly higher than the 0.7% target accepted by most European countries, including Britain.

Most aid is distributed through the UK Government's Department for International Development, which has an £8bn budget.

However, successive Holyrood administrations have set aside a relatively small amount for overseas projects. The cash is directed to a number of countries with links to Scotland, including Malawi.

Opposition MSPs claimed spending cuts at home or tax rises would be required to fund an increased international aid budget.

Scots Tory deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: "The SNP is up to the same old trick of simply plucking a figure out of thin air in an attempt to curry favour with the electorate."