FOI request reveals truth about Scotland's oil

Labour ministers were warned 30 years ago of the powerful case for Scotland becoming independent with booming oil revenues in a secret Whitehall dossier written by Professor Gavin McCrone, one of Scotland's leading economists. But the information was kept confidential by Harold Wilson's government to keep nationalism at bay.

The dossier, most of which was written by Professor Mccrone in 1974 and 1975, sets out how Scotland would have had one of the strongest currencies in Europe, attracting international capital into its banks in the same way as Switzerland. He argued that Scotland could quickly become one of Europe's strongest economies with "embarrassingly" large tax surpluses.

The document was released to the SNP under freedom of information legislation, and states that the scale of Scottish surpluses would be "embarrassing . . . and its currency would become the hardest in Europe, with the exception perhaps of the Norwegian kroner". The SNP said it had cost Scotland £200bn.

Kenny MacAskill, SNP deputy Holyrood leader, claimed the dossier countered arguments used at the time that Scotland was too small, the oil would run out and that it was not Scotland's oil. He said: "A whole array of myths and lies have been exposed. This means that the Scottish Office and British government . . . knew the North Sea wasn't going to be dry as a bone by the 1980s, and that it would have transformed Scotland economically, socially and politically."

Revealed: True oil wealth hidden to stop independence (The Herald, 12 September 2005)