A PARLIAMENTARY committee has launched an inquiry to establish whether 500 civil servants employed in East Kilbride will still have jobs should Scotland become an independent country.

The Westminster inquiry has been set up to examine the continued viability of the East Kilbride-based Department for International Development (DFID) in a separate Scotland.

Michael McCann, the MP in whose constituency DFID is based, has welcomed the move because, he says, the 549 people currently employed there are concerned about their future.

Mr McCann insists that, if Scotland were to vote to go it alone, there would be serious implications for DFID, because more than 40% of its UK workforce is based in Abercrombie House in the South Lanarkshire town.

The inquiry will be carried out by the International Development Committee and Michael, the MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow, is one of three Scots MPs who are members.

He said: "There are several vital questions for us to consider and we are doing so mainly because the SNP have so far refused to say anything about their plans for DFID.

"These include whether DFID would have to relocate its office from East Kilbride in the event of Scotland becoming an independent country, the likely cost of doing so, and the effect on jobs in Scotland.

"The cost for setting up a separate Scottish international development agency also needs to be looked at, and Scottish independence could also lead to the UK Government reducing the UK's aid budget accordingly.

"These are very important issues which affect the workforce and my main concern is for them."

Mr McCann worked at DFID before becoming a politician.

He added: "Having worked there for many years before entering politics and maintaining close contacts with staff as the constituency MP, I am not only aware of the great work they do, but also of the fears many of them have expressed about their job prospects after the referendum."

The present devolved Scottish administration runs a small International Development Fund of its own, but it is not known how this would develop in the event of Scotland becoming an independent country.

The International Development Committee invites written submissions from interested organisations and individuals, who can write to International Development Committee, 7 Millbank, House of Commons, London, SW1P 3JA. The deadline for submissions is Monday, September 2.