MILLIONS of Scots will lose out on an RBS share bonanza worth up to £800 if they choose independence, Business Secretary Vince Cable has warned.

The Treasury is considering giving every taxpayer in the UK shares in RBS as part of a give- away ahead of the next general election. Coalition sources calculate the windfall could be worth £400 to £800 per person.

Coalition Cabinet minister Mr Cable said his Liberal Democrat party backed the payout to ensure taxpayers benefit from 2008's billion-pound bailout of the Edinburgh institution, although he cautioned the Coalition not to "rush" the process.

He said: "The public - has got vast sums of money tied up in [RBS] as a result of having saved it from complete collapse, so it would be desirable if the public were to gain on the upside. I have railed in the past against the public absorbing the losses and the private sector all the profits."

Asked if Scots would get a chance to benefit in an independent Scotland, he said: "No. It is at the moment vested in the British Government."

His comments came in an interview with The Herald. Read it here

Last night a spokesman for First Minister Alex Salmond said: "Scotland and its taxpayers are already entitled to a fair share of the assets of RBS and other shared UK institutions, but if the argument is being made that an independent Scotland should not get our fair share of these assets, then equally we would not have to take our share of liabilities, including the UK's national debt."

LibDem sources said if Scotland backed independence in the 2014 referendum the UK and Scottish Governments would have to negotiate over assets and liabilities of state-owned banks.

But they added the SNP had never proposed giving the public shares in RBS.

One said: "We have set out as a party our vision for the banks and I'm not aware that the SNP have done that at all."

In the interview, ahead of this weekend's Scottish LibDem conference in Dundee, Mr Cable insisted an independent Scotland could not have bailed out RBS.

He dismissed the row over the use of the word "separation" to describe independence, calling it a "statement of fact".

And he suggested the UK Government had not ruled out splitting up RBS into smaller units, despite denials from Number 10 on the issue.

Pressure over RBS's future intensified last week after Sir Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, advocated a further split in the bank, after £5.2 billion pre-tax losses.

Mr Cable said his main priority was to get the bank lending again. He warned the bank was "not lending to perfectly good businesses in Scotland and the UK, and that is a frustration. I'm concerned about doing anything that we can to get that moving."

He added: "We have far too few banks in the UK and Scotland is particularly badly served - often in any town in Scotland there are probably two, sometimes three, banks and for businesses lending is highly concentrated in a very unhelpful way.

"One answer to that would be to have RBS operating through different units."

He said he was not "promoting" the idea because it was technically difficult, but added it had not been ruled out.

The UK Government owns more than 80% of RBS after its £45 billion bailout of the bank in the financial crisis.