THE number of Scotland Office staff working for the department in Edinburgh and London has finally been revealed after a Freedom of Information (FOI) battle.

It took three separate FOI requests lodged by The National to two different Westminster departments and a parliamentary question put to the Cabinet Office before officials revealed how many staff work from its two offices.

The Scotland Office under Alister Jack has staff working from Queen Elizabeth House, in Edinburgh, and Dover House in Whitehall, London.

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The SNP said the amount of time it has taken for the final figures to be revealed “raises questions about transparency” in the department.

At the end of last year, we told how the Scotland Office claimed it did not know how many staff it had working from its Edinburgh hub, and told The National to contact HMRC in its role as building manager.

However, HMRC also claimed it did not hold the information in a response in January.

SNP MP Deidre Brock then lodged a parliamentary question with the Cabinet Office asking for figures on the number of staff employed by different UK departments at Queen Elizabeth House.

The National: SNP MP Deidre Brock speaking in the House of Commons

This revealed that there were 80 staff assigned to the Scotland Office and Attorney General for Scotland in the Edinburgh building.

But, a further FOI by The National has finally discovered the breakdown of exactly how many staff work under Jack in both Edinburgh and London.

The response confirms that overall the Scotland Office has 85 staff members in post as of January 31, 2024.

“Of that, 39 are based in Queen Elizabeth House in Edinburgh with the remainder based in our London office, Dover House,” it adds.

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This equates to a further 46 staff members working from Dover House.

The National also asked for a breakdown of salaries for staff members employed.

“It may also be helpful to explain that the Scotland Office does not employ staff directly,” the FOI adds.

“All staff that join do so on an assignment, loan or secondment from other Government bodies, principally the Scottish Government and the Ministry of Justice, who remain the employers and set the pay scales for their employees.”

For pay scales where there are five or fewer employees, the Scotland Office would not give the specific number of employees paid that rate, as it would “risk identification of the individuals involved”.

The National:

The release did reveal that there are five or fewer admin officers paid between £22,940 and £29,677 and five or fewer executive officers paid between £27,223 and £34,177.

There are nine higher executive offices paid between £32,827 and £41,013, and 13 senior executive officers with a salary ranging between £39,868 and £53,351.

There are also five or fewer employees at Grade 7, between £54,358 and £61,585, and the same for Grade 6, between £66,314 and £83,460.

The release also revealed one senior civil servant is working from Queen Elizabeth House.

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Brock, shadow leader of the House for the SNP, said: “It's taken three FOI requests by The National and my repeated parliamentary questions for the Scotland Office to finally reveal its staffing numbers and where they’re based.

“This information should be readily available to the public and shouldn't rely on the persistence of journalists and MPs to obtain.

“The length of time this has taken raises questions again about transparency in the Scotland Office and exactly what its staff are doing that can justify its costs and existence.”

It comes after a former Labour Scottish Secretary told MPs on Monday that scrutiny should not be on the number of staff.

The National:

“I think the only reasonable answer is it depends what they do,” Douglas Alexander, who served as Scottish Secretary under Tony Blair.  

“And in that sense there may well be greater demands and greater requirements than were the case at one period of time.”

He added: “It feels to me the real question is what are those civil servants doing, how well they are facilitating Scotland’s interests both at a UK level and an effective joint working with the Scottish Government.”

We previously told how costs for staff in the Scotland Office have soared to over £1 million.