A KEY section in a new SNP blueprint for independence is identical to an old report produced by a foreign Government, the Sunday Herald can reveal.

Over 950 words of a case study hailed by the SNP Growth Commission as a model for Scotland was copied and pasted from a New Zealand Treasury paper from 10 years ago, but no credit was given to the original author.

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said: “The Growth Commission has already been branded a Cuts Commission with deficit reduction targets to make George Osborne blush. It now looks like a copy and paste commission as well.

"This is embarrassing for the SNP, and I hope this lack of attribution was simply an administrative error rather than outright plagiarism. The people of Scotland already have enough reasons not to trust any economic case put forward by the SNP without adding another one.”

Commission chair Andrew Wilson said: "We make clear that we commissioned an analysis of small country performance of which this section is one part. The section should have been attributed and I take responsibility that it wasn’t, the original footnote was removed in error during the drafting process, though of course this doesn’t affect the substance of the analysis."

Set up by Nicola Sturgeon in 2016, the Commission last week published a 354-page report that attempted to reboot the case for independence.

The document dealt with meaty issues such as oil, currency and the deficit, but its work was also rooted in international comparisons. A recurring theme was the importance of learning lessons from advanced small economies, with a particular emphasis placed on New Zealand, Denmark and Finland.

With 99 separate references, New Zealand was the overseas country that received the most mentions in the report. However, the Commission is now facing embarrassment about the report’s New Zealand case study, which focused on economic transformation.

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The section, which came to around 1,100 words, majored on productivity growth and the importance of enterprise, innovation, skills, investment and natural resources.

It noted that the “basis for robust productivity growth” in that country rests on a “stable and certain macroeconomic platform” and on the “quality of New Zealand institutions”.

Continuing, the section claimed that “quality institutions”, such as “the structure of property rights and the existence of well-functioning markets”, are a prerequisite.

The case study added that “advances in knowledge” are central to “long-run growth” and insisted “firm turnover drives productivity growth”. It stated: “Creative destruction requires a business environment that supports enterprise and innovation.”

HeraldScotland:

Image: a section from the original document in 2008

HeraldScotland:

Image: An identical section in the Growth Commission

However, other than the opening paragraph in the case study, a Sunday Herald analysis has found that the vast bulk of the section – nearly 1,000 words – was exactly the same as an obscure report from a decade ago.

The document, Putting Productivity First, was prepared by civil servant Neil Kidd for the New Zealand Treasury and published in April 2008. His work was not footnoted by the Commission, or mentioned at all.

One of the paragraphs in the 2008 document concluded: “From this consideration of the process of economic growth, five broad drivers of productivity emerge. These drivers provide a useful way to assess and develop policies to improve the productivity performance of New Zealand."

In one of the few changes, the Growth Commission inserted Scotland into the final sentence: “From this consideration of the process of economic growth, five broad drivers of productivity emerge. These drivers provide a useful way to assess and develop policies to improve the productivity performance of New Zealand, and all are useful as a framework for increasing productivity in Scotland.”

Scottish Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said: “This is laughable from the SNP. They claimed this report would provide a thorough analysis of what an independent Scotland would look like, but have ended up copying bits from another study without referencing it. It just goes to show the lack of thought that has gone into their latest push for separation.”