Governing Scotland explores the origins and development of the Scottish Office in an attempt to understand Scotland's position within the UK union state in the twentieth century. Two competing views were encapsulated in debates on how Scotland should be governed in the early twentieth century: a Whitehall view that emphasised a professional bureaucracy with power centred on London and a Scottish view that emphasised the importance of Scottish national sentiment. These views were ultimately reconciled in 'administrative devolution'. Debates focused on where the Scottish Office should be based; the operation of the Goschen formula for distributing public finance; which matters should come under the Scottish Office; how changes in the structure of government should be 'sold' to the public in the period up to 1939. The constant theme of allowing for a degree of Scottish distinctiveness within a centralized state created a tension that was at the heart of the union state.

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