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Scottish Independence: Start-up costs will not be revealed

Alex Salmond recently announced the target will be extended to 30,000 new modern apprentices a year by 2020
Alex Salmond recently announced the target will be extended to 30,000 new modern apprentices a year by 2020

The Scottish Government will not tell the public the likely cost of creating an independent state’s new government.

Alex Salmond repeatedly sidestepped calls to set out figures during first minister’s questions yesterday.

But he agreed with a “guestimate” from London School of Economics professor Patrick Dunleavy that the bill could be between £150million-£200million.

The UK Treasury has put the cost at anything between £1.5billion-£2.7billion, a figure dismissed by the SNP as “nonsense”.

Mr Salmond’s administration is under increasing pressure after the disclosure of a document prepared by Finance Secretary John Swinney two years ago saying civil servants were working “to build a comprehensive overview of the institutions, costs and staff numbers” which he planned to draw together for the cabinet.

A spokesman for Mr Salmond denied that a document outlining the start-up costs existed or that civil servants gave the information to ministers.

He added: “All the work that was taken forward informed the white paper (on independence).”

The spokesman said Scotland would be aiming to get a £110billion share of UK assets worth £1.3trillion.

“You cannot finalise the sort of start-up costs that have been spoken about until you have a shared division of those assets,” he said.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has written to Mr Salmond asking if any documents were produced for the cabinet.

He said: “The information that John Swinney said exists must be published.

“To deliberately withhold such critical information could only be seen as a serious attempt to mislead people before the referendum.”

Labour finance spokesman Iain Gray said: “No one would buy something without knowing the price yet the Scottish Government expects Scots to vote for their future with no idea of what it will cost them if they choose independence.”

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said: “The Scottish Government is either deceiving the Scottish public, or it is in dereliction of its duty.

“Whatever the case, Alex Salmond is whistling in the dark when it comes to separation.”

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