Call to abolish Scotland Office after costs rocket

The SNP has called for the Scotland Office to be abolished after it emerged the cost of communications staff has risen more than sixfold in a decade.

A piper plays the Bagpipes outside Scotland Office Dover House in Whitehall. Pic: Amer Ghazzal/REX/Shutterstock

The cost of the Scotland Office communications staff now stands at around £710,000, despite the department’s reduced role since devolution. A rebranding exercise recently did away with the title of the Scotland Office, which now presents itself as the “UK Government in Scotland”.

Figures revealed following a parliamentary question from the SNP MP Deidre Brock show that communications staffing costs have risen steadily from £113,236 in 2007-08 to £710,337 in 2017-18.

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Costs grew significantly in the years before and after the Scottish independence referendum, but the biggest jump has come since 2015, when David Mundell became the first Conservative Scottish Secretary in nearly 20 years.

Brock claimed the Scotland Office was a “fossil from another time” and a “hollowed-out shell of a department”, and called for its abolition.

“Millions of pounds of public money is being spent pumping out propaganda just for the Scotland Office – an increasingly defunct department,” Brock said.

A UK government spokesman said communications and campaign work was “normal practice” for any department.

“The Scottish Secretary and his office play a vital role in ensuring Scotland’s voice is heard at the heart 
of Whitehall and that 
the UK Government’s responsibilities and 
activities in Scotland are 
fully understood,” the spokesman said.