THE Scotland Office is desperately "trying to create a role for itself" to justify its existence and straying into devolved areas, an SNP MP has said. 

Speaking on The National's Holyrood Weekly podcast, shadow leader of the House of Commons Deidre Brock said she had concerns the UK Government department was shoring up its staff numbers in a bid to "supplant" work already being done by Scottish Government officials.

After The National lodged numerous Freedom of Information (FOI) requests with Alister Jack's department attempting to find out how many staff work in Queen Elizabeth House in Edinburgh, Brock lodged a question with the Cabinet Office and finally got an answer.

It came after our FOI requests were denied by both the Scotland Office and HMRC, who claimed they did not hold the information.

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The MP said she thought it was "outrageous" that The National's requests were denied, and it then emerged the Scotland Office itself has 80 staff in the Edinburgh HQ. 

Brock told the podcast: "It seems to me, this description of it as a zombie department is appropriate.

"It's trying to create a role for itself in order to justify its existence.

"But for me, much of what it does is basically about propaganda for the UK Government in Scotland.

The National: SNP MP Deidre Brock speaking in the House of Commons

"I just think really, do we want to pay what is it - I think it was getting up to £13 million a year."

Brock discussed a recent exchange she had with Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk Tory MP John Lamont, a junior minister in the Scotland Office, where she tried to find out "what on earth they're all doing". 

"There are now 30 people from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities there...pretty much focused on devolved areas," Brock said. 

She added: "I think, I mean, for me, it's always seemed as if what they're doing is building up a civil service that in effect, supplants some of the work that was already being done by Scottish Government officials.

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"The relationships that Scottish Government, civil servants, have built up over decades, and their knowledge, ingrained knowledge of how things work in agriculture, or the economy of Scotland."

Brock questioned the growth in staffing numbers, particularly in the communications department. We previously revealed that staffing costs for the Scotland Office had surpassed £1 million a year. 

Elsewhere, political reporters Abbi Garton-Crosbie and Steph Brawn discuss the reaction to Nicola Sturgeon's UK Covid Inquiry evidence, compared to the revelation that Jack had deleted all of his WhatsApp messages.

And, go behind the scenes of the latest independence white paper launch at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow, where Culture Secretary Angus Robertson was quizzed on plans for a new Scottish public broadcaster. 

You can listen to Season 3: Episode 3: Is the Scotland Office a waste of money? Below, on Spotify and the Omny streaming platform.