A FORMER senior Scottish Office official has told The National that an independent Scotland should seek “compensation” from the UK Government for £100 billion worth of “misappropriated” oil revenues.

Writing in today’s paper, Jim Cuthbert, who worked in the Treasury, before becoming the Scottish Office’s chief statistician, says the question of recompense is tied up with the debate over what currency an independent Scotland would use.

“Securing adequate resources to back a new Scottish currency will be critical. In this context, the question of compensation for the oil revenues which were effectively misappropriated by Westminster has to be addressed,” he writes.

READ MORE: Downing Street must address the misappropriation of oil revenues​

Cuthbert said that had Scotland been independent back in the early 80s, the government in Edinburgh would now be sitting on a fund “comfortably in excess of £100bn”.

He added: “Given the scale of the resources which have been misappropriated, the argument that is sometimes put forward, that the past is the past, and we should not raise the issue of adequate compensation, seems surprising. Indeed, it gives quite the wrong signal. If we are willing to put up with this scale of expropriation with hardly a murmur, is there any injustice we won’t meekly acquiesce to.”

The National:

A UK Government source described the claim as “ridiculous”.

Kirsty Blackman, the SNP MP for Aberdeen North, said: “It is no secret that oil and gas revenues have been mismanaged by successive UK governments over decades – treating Scotland’s oil industry as a cash cow,” she said.

“The IPPR has previously suggested that UK governments had squandered up to £500bn of oil and gas revenues by not investing in a sovereign wealth fund in the way Norway did – which is worth over $1 trillion.

READ MORE: The Scottish Government should strike while the iron is hot

“The only way to ensure that all of the money and Scotland’s valuable resources are invested in Scotland, and not syphoned off by successive UK governments, is through independence.”

Last year’s Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) figures revealed that revenues from the oil and gas sector were up by more than £1bn from £266 million in 2016-17. They also revealed that spending in Scotland was £73.4bn compared to tax income of just under £60bn, leaving a deficit of £13.4bn.

The question of how to deal with that deficit if Scotland votes for independence continues to be debated by Yes campaigners.

The SNP’s Growth Commission report proposed a five to 10-year timeframe to cut Scotland’s deficit to 3% of its GDP though the IFS claimed that could only be achieved through austerity.

The IPPR’s analysis revealed that between 1980/81 and 1989/90 North Sea oil raised £166bn in taxes.

READ MORE: McCrone Report author's view on independence is shifting after Brexit

But instead of establishing a sovereign wealth fund, or “increasing investment, reducing national debt, or decreasing liabilities – all which would have increased public wealth – the UK used part of its tax windfall to fund the reduction of non-oil taxes”.

When the thinktank’s report was published, a spokesperson for the Treasury said the UK had “given the oil and gas industry £2.3bn of support since 2015, to safeguard the future of this vital sector and its 300,000 jobs.

Earlier this month, The National printed, in full, Professor Gavin McCrone’s 1974 briefing on “the economics of nationalism” prepared for the then Labour government.

The National:

The now famous report said the discovery of North Sea oil had “completely overturned the traditional economic arguments used against Scottish nationalism” and predicted that an independent Scotland would amass “embarrassing” wealth as a result of oil.

It said that “for the first time since the Act of Union was passed, it can now be credibly argued that Scotland’s economic advantage lies in its repeal”.

Speaking to the BBC about the report, McCrone said oil revenues, despite being “much less than they were” should still be added to a wealth fund.

READ MORE: McCrone shows how far British state will go to protect elites

“I still think the oil should be treated as something special and if possible put into a fund rather than just used for ordinary public expenditure.

“I think that was the mistake the UK Government eventually made. They did not put it aside at all – they just used it to finance unemployment and other things.”

Asked about the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 he said it was “commendable” that the Scottish Government had produced a White Paper, pointing out that nothing similar had been produced for Brexit.

However, he said he thought some of the difficulties had been “glossed over”.

“The transition would have been painful because we have a budget deficit in Scotland,” he said. “That is not unique as most of the UK has a budget deficit.”

“Nevertheless that would have to be dealt with because you can’t go on borrowing forever, and that means either cutting public expenditure or raising taxes.

“What you really need to do is get the economy growing much faster so you get higher tax revenues. It would all be very tricky and would have to be carefully managed.”

Asked if he knew how that could be achieved, the professor replied to say he didn’t think anyone did.

McCrone added: “Of course in 2014 the oil revenues were much higher, so the budget deficit was much smaller than it would be now.”