THE Ministry of Defence has been accused of displaying a "deep lack of respect" for the devolution process, after it emerged that its officials had expressed fears that transferring powers from London would compromise Trident.

Documents obtained by The Herald show the MoD expressed concern to the Smith Commission that devolving control over health and safety and the Crown Estate could affect its activities, saying it would be "helpful" if the final report included the point "anything which impacts on the operational effectiveness of conducting defence business should be excluded".

MSPs and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) reacted furiously to the revelations, saying the MoD had provided further evidence that its activities should be subject to greater scrutiny from Holyrood.

Military officials told the commission that the creation of a Scottish Health and Safety Executive may lead to a different inspection regime which "could have implications for the delivery of defence outputs, including the nuclear deterrent, and could affect the ability of the MoD to discharge its UK defence and security obligations, both now and in the future."

It added that many military activities were carried out on the Crown Estate, some of which are not covered by a formal agreement, and called for the commission to consider the how "divergent approaches and practices" would impact on defence.

Transfer of health and safety legislation was omitted from the final report and proposals over the Crown Estate have been watered down since it was published.

Independent MSP John Finnie said that there should not be "no-go areas" for protecting workforces, communities or the environment.

He said: "The Crown Estates assets should be placed under direct public control and if that means a local community doesn't wish the MoD to use it then fine by me. The laissez faire attitude of these military elites, who've presided over catastrophically unsafe work safety systems for decades, needs tackled head on and control of Crown Estates assets and a robust, proactive, devolved Health and Safety regime would be a positive start. There's no place for 'business as before' whatever the Generals might think."

Arthur West, chair of the Scottish CND, said it was "scandalous" that the MoD had been "manoeuvring behind the scenes" to influence the Smith Commission. "We may have missed the opportunity to improve safety across Scotland, because Whitehall mandarins are addicted to Trident," he added.

SNP MSP Rob Gibson said: "The MoD reveals a deep lack of respect for the devolution process for fear that their current practices are questioned or interfered with. With the catalogue of nuclear accidents in the MoD estate in Scotland, wouldn't it be a good thing if a Scottish Government, of whatever persuasion, took a stricter stance over the MoD's behaviour to date and in future?"

The MoD said that no "veto" over powers for Scotland had been sought, and said it had been "entirely transparent" as UK Government analysis had been published online.

The spokesman added: "Both the UK Government and Scottish Government were asked to provide the Smith Commission with factual analysis of the parties' proposals. The email correspondence to which the Herald articles refer is consistent with this analysis."