JOHN Swinney has been urged to “immediately” halt government grants from going to companies “complicit in West Bank settlements”.

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said it was “shocking and inexplicable” public money was supporting arms companies the UN had deemed were complicit in Israeli settlements in Palestine.

He demanded the Scottish Government consider its “devolved responsibilities in relation to Israel’s genocidal action against Palestine”.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Swinney said he would need a firm legal basis to halt Scottish Enterprise grants from going to companies the UN has said were “complicit” in Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank.

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It comes after it was revealed earlier this month that Raytheon, BAE Systems, and Leonardo had all received grants from Scottish Enterprise, despite concerns about their links with Israel.

All three companies make components, planes or bombs for the Israeli Defence Forces.

'No action'

Harvie (below) said that despite past assurances from former first minister Humza Yousaf that no companies profiting from Israel’s bombardment of Gaza should receive public money, “the Scottish Government has not yet taken this action to ban companies on the UN’s list of complicit companies from receiving grants”.

The National: Patrick Harvie

He called for grants to be halted immediately.

Swinney replied: “I will look carefully at the points that Mr Harvie has raised about any support for companies that are involved in this activity our enterprise agencies have appropriate safeguards in place to ensure that any funding provided is used only for the specific purpose for which it is intended.

“I suspect in Mr Harvie’s question, he wants me to extend that beyond that protection and on that matter, I would have to take great care to ensure we had a legal justification before so doing.”

But Harvie said the First Minister was “not yet providing clarity on what the Scottish Government should do within its powers”.

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He added: “The First Minister is right that they do not support the production of munitions with those grants, but that simply isn’t enough. If you contribute to building a bigger bomb factory, you don’t get to say that you haven’t funded the production of the bombs.

“And even since October 7, Raytheon, BAE Systems and Leonardo have all received eyewatering sums from the Scottish Government’s agency Scottish Enterprise.”

Legal advice is 'deadly serious' 

Swinney (below) replied: “I don’t think the analogy that he strikes about the construction of a weapons factory is a particularly fair analogy of the support that we put in place but I will go away and look at that carefully.

The National: John Swinney

“The point I was essentially raising in my earlier answer, is that there will be a legal basis for us applying safeguards in relation to the issuing of grants but we have to have a legal basis for saying why on other issues, not related to the Israel-Gaza conflict that we would have a basis for not providing a grant.

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“And that’s not me being pedantic, that’s just simply the legal basis on which the Government got to act and we have to always act within the law. I have to take the views of the law officers deadly seriously in the actions that we take.”

Scottish Enterprise has previously said it does not “provide support for the development of munitions or weaponry”.

It said money given to the firms in question was “unrelated to the deeply distressing situation in the Middle East”.

It has also said its due diligence human checks are “robust”.  

A BAE Systems spokesperson said: "The ongoing violence in the Middle East is having a devastating impact on civilians in the region and we hope the parties involved find a way to end the violence as soon as possible.

"We operate under the tightest regulation and comply fully with all applicable defence export controls, which are subject to ongoing assessment.

“As part of a wider £300m commitment to shipbuilding on the Clyde, BAE Systems is investing in a new Applied Shipbuilding Academy.

"We welcome the additional funding from Scottish Enterprise which will support the ambition to attract, retain and develop the workforce of the future and both help secure the long-term viability of shipbuilding in Glasgow and provide an ongoing valued and significant contribution to the Scottish economy.”

Leonardo and Raytheon were approached for comment.