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  By Martin Kelly
The most senior civil servant at the UK Treasury has admitted that a key part of the claims made by Danny Alexander over the setup costs of an independent Scotland, were wrong.
Speaking at a seminar at the Queen Mary University of London, Sir Nicholas Macpherson conceded that the Treasury had “misbriefed” on a key statistic when it said it would cost £2.7bn to create new departments in an independent Scotland.

The admission is a blow to the anti-independence campaign which last week seized on figures published by UK Treasury Chief Danny Alexander as proof that a newly independent Scotland would start out worse off than the rest of the UK.

In its analysis paper published last month, HM Treasury claimed that a newly independent Scotland would require 180 government departments which would cost £2.7 billion to set up.

Within days however, Professor Patrick Dunleavy from the London School of Economics on whose research the claims were based, accused the Treasury of having misrepresented his data.

He said: “It is very important, if you are contributing to a public debate, to contribute accurate information and not, as in this case I’m afraid, very crude misinformation.”

Professor Dunleavy said he believed that the Treasury had taken his figure and “made it ludicrous” and that Treasury officials had not read his report before they quoted it.

He added that the Scottish government is run on a more modern and efficient system than that of the UK government and that the SNP figure of £250 million sounded like a “more realistic figure”.

Another academic, Prof Robert Young of Western University in Canada, who was cited by Danny Alexander, said a figure used by the Lib Dem MP was not the academic’s but had been extrapolated from a range of estimates of the costs involved in setting up an independent Quebec.

Speaking at the time of the controversial Treasury claims, First Minister Alex Salmond called the figure, “deeply flawed and deeply misleading”.

Commenting on Sir Nicholas’s admission, a spokesman for the First Minister said: “Sir Nicolas has lifted the lid on the misinformation cooked up by the UK Treasury — each No campaign scare story is being dismantled brick by brick.

“He has put paid to any doubts over an independent Scotland’s place in the EU and admitted, like David Cameron, that Scotland is a wealthy country. And he has demolished the Treasury’s position about start-up costs by conceding their paper was done with bogus calculations.”


2014-06-08 13:06

Now that’s a revelation – Auld Nick admitting to “misbriefing”. Aye Right!!
2014-06-08 13:12

So, what’s going to happen about the lies told by Danny Alexander?

How much of this is to happen before the referee blows the whistle and holds up a red card?

Is it not about time for HM Queen Elizabeth the First of Scotland to stand up for her people here in Scotland?
curley bill
2014-06-08 14:25

Quoting BRL:

Is it not about time for HM Queen Elizabeth the First of Scotland to stand up for her people here in Scotland?

She has not a bit of interest outside keeping her and her extended family in a life of luxurious idleness.
She could have put an end to Thatcher’s deliberate destruction of the UK’s working class but sat in her counting house, not objecting in case the House of Commons took away her baubles and trinkets.
She and her family are, pure and simple, parasites.

2014-06-08 17:04

Your response makes my point exactly CB; if the advisers to HM QE(1) of Scotland want to have a shred of respectability afforded them, they should be knocking heads together.

This Treasury misinformation – now called ‘misbriefs’, which led to whoppers of untruths being roared loud and often by the BBC and the MSM was clearly a calculated move and if HM QE(1) is unperturbed by this attack on the democratic process in Scotland, then I will agree with you.

To this point HM QE(1) has not got involved. Time she was?

2014-06-09 11:38

“Is it not about time for HM Queen Elizabeth the First of Scotland to stand up for her people here in Scotland?”

Ye mean Elizabeth First, Queen o Scots? Scottish monarchs rule the Scots fowk an hiv naethin tae dae wi the kintry.
2014-06-09 14:57

Rabbie, I’m not in the least fussy what QE is called in Scotland, what I want is for her to make clear that she is our Queen and as such has a care for us Scots.

We are being oppressed by Westminster through its organs – the BBC and her Civil Servants in the Treasury and this is a genuine threat to democracy in Scotland.

A whole panoply of insults, lies and misrepresentati  on is killing the aims and objectives of the Referendum. It’s time she was heard and started banging heads together.

If she does not act then I’m afraid her role is indeed no more than being a tourist attraction and seeing to the nice-ities of the chosen elite and bloody expensive at that!

2014-06-08 13:37

I think the No campaign should invest in a much bigger bin for all their debunked nonsense. And is Sir Nicholas not the same guy whose note to Osborne about the CU was made public? And Osborne insisted if Sir Nicholas said it then it must be true that a CU wouldn’t work. Mmmmm, when will Sir Nicholas be admitting he miscalculated (or just made up) that as well?
2014-06-08 14:25

Its confirmed, “if in doubt, don’t speak to the treasury”.

Its very hard to believe that the treasury produced such a major document about the case for the union, and they have admitted it is so very wrong.

Why would we believe any of their other stuff ? about the union being better together.

“Treasury”! hung, drawn and quartered by their own boss.
2014-06-08 16:13

Nothing he says here is really a surprise, but you can be sure the BBC etc will absolutely bury this, and if is covered what he said about the currency union will be given more prominence to counteract the explosive impact of his comments on government set-up costs, the economy and the EU. I can’t believe he has come out and said this.

The whole treatment of that report is the most telling example of the death of journalism in this debate. Both academics cited in the different versions repudiate a key element and do so with comments that were embarrassing for the UK government to an unprecedented degree. Yet the story was buried almost as soon as it appeared. I expect the same response here. When people like Macwhirter wonder why BT can possibly still be ahead then how the press responds to these comments will provide the answer.
2014-06-09 13:09


brick by brick

Very good Mr Salmond. Nice dig.


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