Alister Jack has confirmed that the head of the Civil Service is looking into the role of staff in the wake of the Supreme Court judgment on a Scottish independence referendum.
Judges on the UK’s highest court in London last week ruled that Holyrood does not have the power to hold a referendum on the matter.
However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has insisted that “Scottish democracy will not be denied”, as she suggested the next general election will act as a de-facto referendum.
Scottish secretary Jack appeared before MPs on Monday at Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee.
He told the committee that work is being undertaken to examine what the judgment by the court means for the future role of the Civil Service in Scotland.
A freedom of information request revealed that more than £1.5m of public money will be spent annually on civil servants who have been tasked to work on the independence campaign.
Jack told MPs that the UK Government spent £71,800 on the Supreme Court case brought by the Scottish Government.
Speaking to STV News on Thursday during a two-day visit to Paris to promote Scottish trade, Jack said the judgment had “clearly” put a “different light on things” in relation to the role of civil servants in Scotland.
Jack confirmed that conversations had taken place involving Simon Case over the job of civil servants.
“So, this is a very live issue at the moment and I’ve had conversations with Simon Case, the Cabinet secretary, who’s the head of the Civil Service, about it,” he said.
“Since 2014 when there was a review into this, the Civil Service in Scotland, which are part of the United Kingdom Civil Service, have kept in close contact with the Cabinet Secretary and the proprietary and ethics team in the Cabinet Office.
“But clearly, this judgment has put a slightly different light on things and so a new piece of work is ongoing reviewing, in light of the judgment, reviewing what the relationship should be now.”
Asked if he had had conversations regarding the issue, he said: “Yes, absolutely.”
Jack added: “It is a matter for the Civil Service, a matter for the Cabinet secretary who’s the head of the Civil Service.
“I won’t put words into his mouth, but is he looking at it? Yes, he is.”
Jack also stated that he had not been offered a seat in the House of Lords “in any official capacity” and that there will not be a by-election in his Dumfries and Galloway constituency.
It comes amid speculation that Jack could be include in Boris Johnson’s outgoing honours list following his resignation as prime minister.
“The short answer is that no-one, in any official capacity, has written and offered me a seat in the House of Lords,” he said.
“Nor will there be a by-election in Dumfries and Galloway. So, I’m not planning to go anywhere.”
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