General

  By Martin Kelly
 
First Minister Alex Salmond has called on UK Prime Minister David Cameron to carry out an investigation into how an academic’s work came to be misrepresented by the UK Treasury, after it claimed the start-up costs of independence would be £2.5bn.
 
According to the Treasury, a newly independent Scotland would face having to set up 180 new departments at an average cost of £15m per department.

However within days of the figure being released by Westminster, the academic on whose research the UK Government based its estimate, complained his study had been “badly misrepresented” and that the UK Treasury claim was “misleading”.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Professor Patrick Dunleavy said: “The Treasury’s figures are bizarrely inaccurate.  I don’t see why the Scottish government couldn’t do this for a very small amount of money.”

The Treasury subsequently admitted its estimate had been a “misbriefing”.

This weekend Professor Dunleavy published figures which looked specifically at the start-up costs of a newly independent Scotland and calculated it would cost no more than £200m – thirteen times less than the Treasury’s initial claim.

In his detailed academic report, Professor Dunleavy said: “A UK Treasury briefing in late May 2014 did not help, containing as it did some spectacularly wrong information, which greatly muddied the waters.”

Now First Minister Alex Salmond is demanding an investigation into how the UK Treasury came to publish what amount to bogus figures.

In a letter to David Cameron, Mr Salmond says:

“You will be aware that last month your government gave a highly misleading briefing on the structure and cost of the Scottish Government in an independent Scotland.
 
“In a presentation which received extensive coverage, HM Treasury issued the following statement:
 
‘The Institute for Government (IfG) and the London School of Economics (LSE) have published independent analysis which puts the average cost of setting up a new policy department at £15 million. Applying this to the 180 departments the Scottish government states it would need could see Scottish taxpayers fork out £2.7bn.’
 
“That £2.7bnn figure was then repeated in the Treasury’s formal paper published on May 28th.”

“I would therefore ask that you launch an immediate investigation into why your government issued ‘spectacularly wrong’ information. The investigation should establish which minister signed off this grossly misleading claim.”

Yesterday, appearing on Good Morning Scotland, Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael appeared to accept the £200m figure.
 
He said: “In as much as it is possible to put a figure on these things, I have no basis on which to challenge it at the moment.”

Mr Salmond added: “Why did one part of the UK Government issue a figure of £2.7 billion when the Scottish Secretary himself believes the figure is around one-thirteenth of that claim? 
 
“The fact that such a misleading claim was made in a special briefing to journalists in London and Edinburgh – and published in a Treasury document – means it is now very difficult for people in Scotland to trust any information on the independence referendum issued by the UK Government.”

Calling for the Prime Minister to investigate the issue, the First Minister said: “As such, I am sure that you will want to clear this matter up quickly by holding an inquiry into this extremely damaging episode for the UK Government’s credibility.”

The First Minister also called on Mr Cameron to debate the issue of independence, face to face, claiming the publicly funded interventions were a sign of the UK Government’s ‘heavy involvement’ in the referendum debate.

“Your government’s intervention on this issue demonstrates once again the extent to which your administration is heavily involved in the independence debate.” he said, before adding:
 
“This week you have used public money to send out UK Government material to every household in Scotland as part of the campaign for a No vote.
 
“In addition we now know your administration has also spent around £140,000 on political polling in relation to the independence referendum.
 
“In the light of these developments and the deep involvement of the UK Government it is simply not credible for you to refuse to debate the issues. I therefore urge you once again to take up the invitation to debate with me on July 16.”

Comments  

 
#
bringiton
2014-06-24 20:03

Cameron’s credibility has been severely undermined today by the conviction of his former witch doctor.

His bogus claim that Scottish independence is a matter for Scots alone to decide has also been exposed as a complete lie.

Westminster,for the first time ever,is showing vast compassion to the people of Scotland in their desire to continue subsidising us and protect us from the disaster that managing our own affairs would be.

Scots have to decide whether this is credible or not and whether they believe Cameron and his clan of sychophants or the proponents of independence.
 
 
#
xyz
2014-06-24 21:49

Yet the BBC even today is still referencing the UK government figures as though they are unquestioned and have the same integrity as the Scottish government’s figures. It really is a terrible propaganda war we are suffering at the hands of our worthless media.

Also, BBC Channel 5 news today a farmer somewhere required gold plated guarantees on EU membership and was apparently unaware that UK membership is the biggest threat to EU membership.

Will the people realise in time that we are being treated like idiots by the BBC and the UK government?
 
 
#
mafs
2014-06-25 02:51

The only way for any probe to be started would be for Alex Salmond to come clean and announce what the true figures are other wise all we have to go on is one persons guess against another. If he wanted a probe or to blow any claims out of the water he should present the calculated figures the SNP have come up with for public scrutiny then let the public decide who has a better grasp of economics. Its easy to ridicule others calculations when you don’t show your own.
I as an undecided voter want more information from both sides all I am getting so far is gestimate figures from Westminster and no figures at all from the SNP. If anyone wants my vote then true disclosure is needed not promises of “it wont cost that much” if it wont then prove it to me and the great undecided. we can swing this vote whichever way we chose and to convince us of moving from the status-quo we need facts not promises
 
 
#
snowthistle
2014-06-25 08:39

Everyone wants hard and fast facts but unfortunately they are not always available. The UK government states that it will not pre negotiate the terms of independence, which is a perfectly legitimate tactic from their point of view. Lets face it, if we were them we would probably do the self same thing. Unfortunately for the voter though, this stance makes it very difficult to produce hard and fast figures. You can look at what you are likely to get and estimate what will need to be set up from scratch and come to an educated guess – this is what Prof Dunleavy has done – but you can’t calculate hard and fast figures with only half of the information
 

 
#
Nautilus
2014-06-25 17:03

@mafs and snowthistle.
If the only things that interest you are the doubts relating to the costs of setting up of a Scottish State and its offices, you may as well sit on the fence or vote no to get more of the same, for it will not be ‘better together’. It will be the same – the UK ‘punching above its weight’ and the rest of us ordinary mortals paying for the wars, financial crashes, and the black hole that is London sucking in all our wealth and young talent to pay for its infrastructure.
Don’t you think there may be more noble reasons to vote YES, like trashing Trident, saving Crown Estate duty, getting democracy, even? Or the dignity of taking charge of our own affairs?
Regardless of the costs, Scotland will be a prosperous northern European country. Many poorer ones have sought and got independence before us – and never looked back.
 

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