Scotland plays 'significant' role in Nato security, minister tells MPs
Annabel Goldie was appearing before the Scottish Affairs Committee
Scotland makes a "very significant" contribution to Nato's collective security thanks to Trident, Baroness Annabel Goldie has told MPs.
The war in Ukraine has reopened debate in Scotland about continued membership of Nato and the presence of the nuclear missile system at HM Naval Base Clyde.
Goldie, who is Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, said the UK's continuous at-sea deterrent system makes an "important contribution" to security.
She hailed the capabilities of RAF Lossiemouth as another key factor thanks to the presence of the new Poseidon aircraft.
Goldie said: "That's to deal with our surveillance work in the high north, which is actually always important but I think it's achieving particularly new significance because climate change is opening up maritime routes up there that we didn't have before and that makes this surveillance facility so important."
The RAF's new Wedgetail spy planes will also be located at the Moray base and will be another "critical component" of the UK's "contribution to Nato", Goldie said.
Hailing both Nato and the Joint Expeditionary Force (Jef), the former Scottish Conservative leader said: "All of this has given a renewed sense of relevance by what's been happening in Ukraine."
Goldie was appearing before the cross-party Scottish Affairs Committee, which is undertaking an inquiry into defence in Scotland.
She expressed "horror about what has been happening in Ukraine", where Russian attacks continue, and said the "political unanimity coming from the UK" is a "very powerful message and a powerful contribution".
Tory MP John Lamont asked the peer what discussions she has had with Scottish ministers opposed to Nato membership "about the error of that view".
Goldie replied: "I am respectful politicians who hold different views and, you know, I may not agree with the agenda of independence for Scotland but I absolutely respect right of people to hold that view.
"One of the components of that to date, which is not for today, but it is another time perhaps, is quite simply people having to work out pros and cons; you know, are there advantages of being in the union and if so what they are. Are there advantages to being independent; what are they?
"That debate is for another day but what I can affirm to the committee is that we are regarded as one of the pivotal members of Nato. We are the second biggest contributor to Nato, we are the biggest European contributor and I think that reflects our stature within the organisation and the importance organisation attaches to our UK membership."