Scotland politics

Scottish independence: East Kilbride aid jobs said to be 'at risk'

Typhoon Haiyan
Image caption The Scottish government donated £600,000 to help survivors of Typhoon Haiyan

Scottish-based aid jobs would be at risk if the country votes for independence, according to the UK's international development secretary.

Justine Greening told MPs it was "hard to imagine" an independent Scotland would employ as many aid staff.

The Department for International Development (DFID) currently employs just under 50% of its staff in East Kilbride.

SNP minister Humza Yousaf said Scotland would be a "world leader" in aid.

Giving evidence at the International Development Committee in Westminster, Ms Greening cast doubt on the future of the jobs following a Yes vote in next year's referendum and said disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan were better helped by the UK as a whole.

The committee launched an inquiry into Scotland's aid position earlier this year.

Last month Mr Yousaf told the same committee the SNP would "look to preserve employment" for the 550 permanent and 50 contract staff who worked for DFID at Abercrombie House in East Kilbride.

He said he had "no aversion" to the department having a presence in Scotland post-independence.

The Scottish government has announced a £600,000 donation to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal to help those affected by Typhoon Haiyan. The UK government has pledged £10m in humanitarian support and has promised to match all public donations following the devastation to parts of the Philippines.

Last month it pledged to enshrine in law a commitment to spend £7m of every billion on foreign aid, meeting the UN's 0.7% of gross national income target.

Ms Greening told MPs on the committee: "Looking at other countries of a comparable size, it is hard to imagine that an independent Scotland's development office could employ as many staff as DFID currently does in Scotland, or deliver such large scale results around the world.

"International development is a great example of the power of doing things together.

"The Scottish people can be proud - as am I - of the contribution they make to the UK's influential development programme.

"British expertise, through our aid agencies, our life-saving innovations and our emergency teams, makes a real difference across the world."

Scottish International Development Minister Humza Yousaf criticised the UK government's "missing aid" and said the SNP's 0.7% pledge was important to the future of the East Kilbride jobs.

He said: "We already know from previous Westminster select committee reports that the UK intends to reduce the number of civil service jobs at its East Kilbride office.

"The UK's failure to future-proof the aid budget also fails to protect those jobs.

"On the day that the Scottish government has pledged hundreds of thousands of pounds for the Philippines typhoon appeal, a donation warmly welcomed by Scotland's aid agencies, it beggars belief that the Tories attack Scotland's ability to deliver on international development - and in doing so question the impact of other small European nations.

"The UK's record is one of missed aid targets and broken promises."

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