THE Scotland Office has come under fire after it was revealed its spend on staff costs had broken £1 million.

The SNP have said the spend, which has risen from £944,645 to £1.1m, is a waste of public money, arguing the department “has utterly failed to stand up for Scotland at Westminster”.

Alister Jack (below) is seen as among the most interventionist Scottish Secretaries since the establishment of Holyrood in 1999, with the department increasingly at odds with the Edinburgh administration.

The National: File photo dated 15/03/22 of Scottish Secretary Alister Jack who has said "It is not possible for the next general election to be a de facto referendum on Scottish independence." Issue date: Thursday July 7, 2022.

He issued the first ever UK Government veto on a piece of Scottish legislation when he blocked planned transgender law reforms.

They are on ice after the Scottish Secretary issued a Section 35 order in January. A legal challenge against the block failed in December and the Scottish Government has said it will not take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court.

Jack had argued that the law – which sought to make it easier for trans people to change their legal sex on official documents – impinged on UK-wide equality legislation and that the Scottish Government was therefore acting outwith its powers.

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Tensions between the two administrations soured further in June when the Scottish Government refused to take glass out of its planned Deposit Return Scheme.

The Scottish Government was refused an exemption under the Internal Market Act – which critics say constrains Holyrood’s abilities to make its own laws – and opted to delay the scheme until October 2025.

The SNP have said the Scotland Office “clearly works against the best interests of the people of Scotland” after it obtained the details of the department’s costs through Freedom of Information requests.

The total amount spent on public information campaigns also increased in the last financial year – increasing by £10,075 to £49,893 in 2022-23.

Tommy Sheppard (below), the SNP’s Scotland Office spokesperson, said: “Instead of using taxpayers’ money to help vulnerable households through the Tory-made cost of living crisis, Westminster’s man in Scotland Alister Jack continues to squander public cash on his zombie unit.

The National:

“In a shameful dereliction of duty, the Scotland Office has utterly failed to stand up for Scotland at Westminster, instead gleefully championing the disastrous policies of this UK Government as they impose yet another round of austerity on top of the compounding economic pressures of Brexit.

“We cannot trust the Tories to protect the future of Scotland. The only way we can protect Scotland is with a referendum for recovery where the Scottish people can choose a different path with independence.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The Scotland Office plays a vital role in promoting the best interests of Scotland within a strong United Kingdom and representing effectively Scottish interests at the heart of the UK Government.

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“We will continue working with the Scottish Government to serve the people of Scotland by communicating important matters such as where to access cost of living support, promoting Scottish business and communities and highlighting funding opportunities across the country.

“This collaboration has been successful in enabling the delivery of nearly £3bn of UK Government investment directly into Scotland.”