11 Jan 2012

Salmond: You keep Scots bank debt, we’ll keep the oil money

SNP leader Alex Salmond tells Channel 4 News that the bad debts of the part-nationalised Royal Bank of Scotland should remain with the Treasury in London even if Scotland votes for independence.

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond has defied Westminster by pledging to hold a referendum on independence in 2014, more than a year after the date proposed by the government.

However, on Wednesday Mr Salmond told Channel 4 News that he would, in any post-independence vote negotiation, be looking to take some 90 per cent of north sea oil revenues – equivalent to the proportion of revenue generating oil fields in scottish waters – but only eight per cent of the national debt – equivalent to the proportion of the UK population living in Scotland.

You’d think they’d be queueing up to say ‘stand on your own two feet’. Instead they’re conspiring like anything to hang on to us. Alex Salmond

Challenged as to whether this would be fair, given the outstanding debts of RBS – a bank based in Scotland – Mr Salmond said: “Obviously the people responsible for that, just as the people who took the corporation tax over the Royal Bank of Scotland, were the London Treasury, and unfortunately they were also responsible for misregulating the financial sector as well. I’m afraid people have to take responsibility for the past mistakes they made.”

He added: “Debt has been accumulated in the past: there’s been £250,000m of North Sea oil has gone straight to the Treasury over the last 25-30 years – we’re not going to ask for our share of that back.”

And as for future English energy revenues, he said: “We’d make no claim on gas or shale gas to come in English territory.”

Read more in Faisal Islam's blog: Ten economic questions on independence

Letter to Fred Goodwin

Mr Salmond brushed aside a letter he wrote in 2007 to the then chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Fred Goodwin, offering backing for the disastrous purchase of dutch bank ABN-Amro.

In the letter, Mr Salmond says: “It is in Scottish interests for RBS to be successful, and I would like to offer any assistance my office can provide. Good luck with the bid. Yours for Scotland, Alex.” (You can see a copy of the letter at the bottom of the page).

Mr Salmond, went on to accuse Westminster politicians of hypocrisy: “The argument from the Westminster politicians is that Scotland is a poor wee subsidised place that gets too much spending.

“You’d think they’d be queueing up to say ‘stand on your own two feet’. Instead they’re conspiring like anything to hang on to us, because they want to keep a hold of Scottish resources.”