SNP delegates have voted to support a radical distribution of government departments and civil service jobs across Scotland's towns and cities under independence in a move to reflect a German-style of decentralisation and not replicate the over-centralisation of the UK economy

Members today overwhelmingly backed the resolution - by 346 to 64 votes - which called thousands of roles to be created away from the Central Belt to the Highlands and other parts of the country as part of a strategy to provide an economic boost to these areas and stop depopulation.

Tim Rideout and Seamus Coll from the party's Dalkeith and Thurso branches respectively spoke in favour of the motion at the SNP conference this afternoon, while Graeme McCormick from Helensburgh spoke against. 

"It is no coincidence that successful countries usually have well-diversified regional economies. One of the best examples is Germany where there is no dominant city," Rideout said.

The National:

SNP activist speaks in favour of the motion.

"Berlin is only a third the population of London – and civil service jobs and departments are dispersed across the nation. 

"The UK, by contrast, is one of the most centralised countries in the world. That is not just legal control from Westminster, but in terms of economic activity. London acts, in many ways, as a giant leach. The South East is overcrowded while houses and factories stand empty further north." 

He added: "The concentration of government departments and the associated well paid civil service jobs – hundreds of thousands of them – simply reinforces London’s dominance."

Rideout said it would be easy for an independent Scotland to replicate the UK model but he said this would not be in the new state's interests.

"The current 7500 Scottish Government staff are mostly Edinburgh based, as are those in Alister Jack’s new Union Jack branded Imperial HQ. 

"It would be very easy, therefore, for indy Scotland to fall into the same trap as London if we do not recognise the issue and take steps to avoid it," he said.

"We will not have a happy and successful nation if areas outside the Central Belt do not share in the benefits of independence."

"Many areas already have problems of ageing and depopulation, for example, as younger people leave for better opportunities elsewhere."

He went on to say that under the plans 1970 posts could go to for Dumfries where the Ministry of Agriculture could be based, 355 for the Western Isles for a new Coastguard HQ and 2654 to Aberdeenshire and 2310 for Aberdeen where the Ministry of Energy and the National Energy Company could be located.

"1510 for Dundee as we add remaining benefits and pensions to Social Security Scotland. And so the list goes on. It isn’t just the civil servant either, as there is probably a partner and often a family.

"We already pay the wages of these extra civil servants – they are just in London – so it isn’t an additional cost," he said.

"I would also add we must build a civil service that suits us. We do not need an Ofcom, Ofgem or a rail regulator for example.Delegates, let us take this important step forward in our preparation for Independence."

Coll highlighted concerns around the depopulation of the Highlands as he called for the motion to be backed.

McCormick argued for greater devolution of powers for Scotland's 32 local authorities and away from Holyrood as he argued for more decentralisation but against the motion.

The motion states "conference notes that similar sized EU countries such as Denmark have in a range of forty to fifty thousand core civil servants. The implication is that the Scottish Government will require a major staff expansion, some of which may come from taking over staff currently employed by the UK 

"The Scottish Government is likely to require around thirty-five thousand new posts, of which at least ten thousand cannot be filled by existing UK employees."

It adds: "To ensure that all areas of Scotland get a fair share of the benefits of independence then conference proposes that an SNP Scottish Government should ensure that all core civil service jobs are distributed across the 32 Council areas in proportion to the populations of those areas...Furthermore, Conference recognises that many areas are either rural, remote or disadvantaged and 
currently have very few civil service jobs in their area. 

"To compensate and assist these areas then conference proposes that these areas (for example Dumfries & Galloway, Inverclyde, Highlands, Scottish Borders, An Na h-Eileanan nan Siar) be given an extra weighting of a minimum of 20% of their current population when calculating their allocations.

"This policy will help prevent a repetition of the excessive centralisation on the capital that has characterised the UK, and will ensure that the new jobs and incomes deriving from independence are fairly spread across the entirety of Scotland."