THE UK Government’s dismissive attitude in rejecting the devolution of immigration policy to Holyrood is fuelling the cause of Scottish independence, MPs were told.

During an SNP-led debate on migration, Tommy Sheppard, the Nationalist MP for Edinburgh East, warned the governing Conservative administration that setting its face against “sensible proposals” was feeding the appetite for change in Scotland.

"In many ways, the Government so far since the election has been doing this party's job for it,” he declared.

“The opinion polls are rising; more and more people in Scotland are demanding and getting behind the cause of independence and we haven't even started the campaign. This is all the work of the United Kingdom Government," insisted Mr Sheppard.

He told the Government benches: "If you throw out sensible proposals like this one, which would be to the benefit of the Scottish economy, the benefit of the people in Scotland, but which might also be something very sensible to do while Scotland remains in the United Kingdom, if you throw this out and ignore the arguments that we are making, then you fuel that appetite and that desire even more."

But Douglas Ross, the Scotland Office Minister, told MPs there would "not be a meeting of minds" with the SNP on the issue of a separate migration system.

"This Government is committed to introducing a new immigration system that works for the whole of the UK; for Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland,” he insisted.

"That's why the Government has engaged and continues to engage extensively with many stakeholders across Scotland, including the Scottish Government but crucially also businesses across a wide range of sectors."

Stressing how the Government was committed to developing a system which addressed challenges in the whole country, Mr Ross said: "We have no plans to devolve powers of immigration."

He warned such a move would bring about "significant complexities".

However, there is a feeling at Westminster that the Conservative Government might be prepared, when it is expected next month to unveil its post-Brexit immigration plans, to give the Scottish Parliament more input on migration policy, recognising the so-called “demographic timebomb” Scotland faces in the years ahead.

One senior SNP figure told The Herald he sensed his party was “pushing at an open door”.

For Labour in the debate, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, the Shadow Immigration Minister, agreed with the need for Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, to "engage positively" with the proposal but also noted: "We on this frontbench do not believe Scotland is a uniquely special case that would require a tailored migration policy for Scotland."

She added: "The widespread use of devolved powers in immigration could create a bizarre and unworkable recruitment process and practice across the regions if others started to take a less rational approach because of changes in government."