THE Scotland Office has claimed it does not know how many staff it has ­working in its flagship Edinburgh hub.

The National lodged a Freedom of Information (FOI) request with ­Alister Jack’s department in an ­attempt to establish how many staff were working in Queen Elizabeth House.

The building, not far from the ­Scottish Parliament, was opened in 2020, later formally opened by Jack two years later.

We recently revealed that it costs a staggering £11 million to run each year, prompting accusations that it is a “monumental” waste of money and a “PR stunt”.

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But the extent of how many civil servants working for the Scotland ­Office operate from the hub has been kept under wraps.

The National asked how many Scotland Office staff members were currently permanently working from its Edinburgh headquarters, their pay grades and how often Scottish ­Secretary Alister Jack (below) works from the site.

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However, we were told that the ­information is “not held” by the ­Scotland Office.

“It may be helpful to explain that the Scotland Office is one of many UK Government Departments ­working in Queen Elizabeth House in Edinburgh,” the FOI response said.

Instead, we were told to ask His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for the total number of civil servants working in the hub through FOI. The National lodged the request in early December but is unlikely to get a response before January.

When the building was opened, it was designed to house around 3000 staff, but it has not been established how many are actually working in the hub from each UK Government department.

We were also told that Scotland ­Office officials did not hold any ­information relating to how regularly Jack visits the Edinburgh HQ.

“There is no set schedule for office days for ministers,” the ­response said.

“Ministerial business is broadly ­organised to fulfil Parliamentary commitments, departmental business and ministerial visits. Therefore we do not hold this information.”

Tommy Sheppard (below), the SNP’s Scotland spokesperson at Westminster, said the response did not “give a lot of confidence” in the management of the department.

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“You could ask that question of any business in Scotland and they would be able to tell you, probably almost immediately, how many staff they have,” he said.

“They’re being generally ­obstructive and finding any reason not to conform properly to the FOI protocols.

“In doing that, I think they’ve made themselves look like idiots by not ­saying how many staff they have.

“It’s not a huge operation, it’s a pretty small department. Maybe they don’t know how many they’ve got ­because they keep increasing PR ­officers in a desperate attempt to sell the Union.”

Sheppard has been battling the UK Government to release its secretive polling on the Union since 2019.

The Cabinet Office’s refusal to publish the data it holds was first heard at a First-Tier Tribunal in 2021, which ruled that ministers should ­release the information – but they still haven’t.

The SNP MP is still awaiting the latest court judgment after the case was taken to an Upper Tribunal in September this year.

“They’re taking their cue from the Cabinet Office who are the world leaders in terms of frustrating FOI ­requests,” he added, in relation to the staffing numbers.

A report from a House of Commons committee in July revealed that a dedicated Cabinet Office meeting room in Queen Elizabeth House had not been used to host UK ­Government ministers since it opened.

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When the building was opened, promises were made that ministers would spend a “significant amount of time” in Scotland, but a report found between March 2021 and February 2022, ministers had visited on just five occasions totalling six days.

We previously told how the Cabinet Office refused to say how many times a committee on the Union has met while Rishi Sunak has been Prime Minister.

It follows previous attempts by this newspaper to establish how many times the Cabinet Union Strategy Committee (CUSC), which replaced the Union Unit after it lost two leaders in the space of two weeks, met under Boris Johnson.

Similar reasoning was used to ­rebuke our request for any details on how often it had met during the Tory prime minister’s tenure.