THE Scottish Government has increased the number of staff it has dedicated to working on an independence prospectus.

The revelation came after Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson was quizzed on the preparations being undertaken by the Scottish Tories.

Conservative MSP Russell Findlay put in a general question at Holyrood to “ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on how many of its staff members are working on the prospectus for another independence referendum”.

In his response, Robertson said there was one senior civil servant and 14 other officials working on the white paper in the Constitutional Futures Division of the Constitution and Cabinet Directorate.

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This is an increase of four since the numbers were last revealed in late January.

The Constitution Secretary said the work of these 15 people would be aided by other civil servants "across a range of portfolios who will contribute to varying extents as part of their wider responsibilities in supporting the Scottish Government".

Responding to the revelation, Findlay said people across Scotland would be “dismayed to discover that this SNP government is diverting yet more precious staff and resources towards another referendum”.

The Tory MSP went on: “The SNP’s own programme for government says work on this would only take place if the Covid crisis is over.

“Can the Cabinet Secretary explain why his government is ignoring their own programme and squandering money on this obsession which the people of Scotland do not want?”

Robertson thanked Findlay for the “implicit recognition” that there will be a second referendum, saying it was “very welcome”.

He added: “We obviously differed on this issue in the Scottish parliament election last year, but as democrats we all hopefully recognise that the parties committed to there being a referendum won the election, and the parties that opposed the referendum, such as his, lost the election.

“We’re getting on with delivering on the policy of the government including a prospectus ahead of the independence referendum and I look forward to further announcements on that in the future.”