NICOLA Sturgeon has claimed that which government would pay out pensions if Scotland won separation from the United Kingdom would be “a matter of negotiation at the point of independence”.

The SNP has been embroiled in a row over who will meet the cost of state pension if Scotland becomes an independent state.

The blueprint for Scottish independence, drawn up before the 2014 referendum, said that for existing pensions the responsibility would “transfer to the Scottish Government” – but last week, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said the UK would continue to pay out due to national insurance contributions paid to the UK Government.

In an interview with ITV Border, Mr Blackford highlighted that “you pay into a National Insurance fund”.

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He added: “Ok, the UK is then responsible for the disbursements of that, and it covers cash flow for a certain period, but that’s a right to a UK pension – there’s no ifs, there’s no buts about that.”

Speaking to the BBC, the First Minister insisted that the “position hasn't changed” since the referendum and stressed that who pays out pensions in an independent Scotland “will be a matter of negotiations at the point of independence”.

She added: “There are assets and liabilities, including pensions, that of course will be subject to negotiation when Scotland becomes independent.

“On an ongoing basis it will be for the Scottish Government to fund Scottish pensions, but in terms of how we take account of historic assets and liabilities, that will be a matter of negotiation."

Ms Sturgeon was asked about the state pension being paid out of current taxes rather than accumulated National Insurance contributions.

She said: “You might want to look at the Fraser of Allander comments on this just recently when they talk about the fact that access to pensions in the UK is not based on citizenship, it is based on National Insurance contributions.

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“So there will be a negotiation around all assets and liabilities.”

Scottish Conservative constitution spokesperson, Donald Cameron, said: “Nicola Sturgeon is tying herself in knots over this issue.

“She clearly knows – as does everyone else - that Ian Blackford’s claim that the UK would be responsible for paying pensions in an independent Scotland was absurd.

“But the First Minister is reluctant to completely hang him out to dry, so she is left dancing on the head of a pin.

“The true position is clear and unequivocal and was accepted by the SNP in 2014: an independent Scotland would be solely responsible for funding its own state pension.

“The SNP know the economic case for independence has never been weaker, which explains their deception over this.”