SCOTTISH Secretary Alister Jack has told the UK’s top civil servant that no government staff should be allowed to work under Jamie Hepburn, Scotland’s new Minister for Independence.

Jack said that Scotland's top civil servant, permanent secretary John-Paul Marks, has also been told not to allow government staff to work in any department under Hepburn.

The SNP MSP was handed the Minister for Independence role after Humza Yousaf became First Minister. It is understood that the job will be largely in the back corridors of power, co-ordinating independence work across the administration.

But the Tories' Scottish Secretary has written to the UK's top civil servant demanding that no government staff are to work under Hepburn.

READ MORE: SNP MP writes to every British Ambassador: 'Scotland will not be put back in a box'

It comes after Labour peer George Foulkes wrote to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt raising concerns about public funds being used to pay the ministerial salary.

Responding for the UK Government, Jack in turn raised concerns about the “constitutional propriety” of the Minister for Independence role.

He wrote: "I am concerned at the First Minister’s decision to appoint a Minister for Independence.

"This decision is completely out of step with the real priorities of the public, which include continuing to tackle the cost of living, growing Scotland’s economy, tackling NHS waiting lists, ensuring our energy security, and improving transport links.

"In my role as Secretary of State for Scotland I wrote to the cabinet secretary [Simon Case] and asked him firstly to advise on the constitutional propriety of appointing this ministerial role in light of United Kingdom Supreme Court's ruling of November 23, 2022, and secondly requested assurance that no UK civil servant will be engaged in this new department.

"I strongly believe in the need to uphold the reputation and impartiality of the civil service in Scotland and I understand that this is a matter for the Scottish Government permanent secretary in the first instance and my political colleagues have written to him on this matter."

Foulkes heaped praise on Jack's response, claiming it would leave Yousaf with little choice but to scrap the Minister for Independence role.

The Labour peer said: "He's basically saying they have got to scrap it, it's really very impressive and very powerful. If he doesn't have civil service support then the role is basically a dead duck.

"We would be paying someone £100,000 a year to do nothing. Even if he had a team of civil servants he couldn't do anything, but without them it's finished."

A minister in the Scottish Government at Hepburn's level is entitled to be paid £99,516 per year, including their MSP salary.

However, the SNP have a long-standing policy of declining to take pay rises above the 2008-2009 level, meaning Hepburn is more likely taking an annual salary of £81,449, as ministers did in 2021-2022.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "The First Minister appointed a ministerial team that reflects the priorities he will pursue in government – including tackling child poverty, improving public services, building a fairer, greener economy, and giving people the information about devolution and independence that they need to make an informed choice about Scotland's constitutional future.

"As ministers have outlined to the Scottish Parliament, there is a democratic mandate for an independence referendum.

"The Scottish Government remains ready to engage with the UK Government to give people in Scotland the right to choose their constitutional future in line with the result of the 2021 Scottish Parliament election which returned a clear majority in favour of a referendum."