So what do you reckon? Do you think Gordon Brown will accede to Alex Salmond’s request and scrap the Scotland Office?
I shouldn’t imagine it’s exactly a top priority for the PM. He has one or two marginally more pressing matters to consider.
In truth, the issue has only resurfaced because of complaints from former army officers about the dual role occupied by Des Browne.
But Alex Salmond knows an opportunity when he spots one. And so yesterday his team issued a demand for the abolition of the Scotland Office.
It was squeezed in alongside praise for Scotland’s dual triumph in the World Cups (we won the golfing version and got a decent draw in the football species).
To be mildly more serious, Mr Salmond enhanced his demand with a suggestion for changing the relationship between the Scottish and UK governments.
He wants a revival of the Joint Ministerial Committee system, designed to tackle disputes between Edinburgh and London. Plus he wants a direct relationship with 10 Downing Street, GHQ for the First Lord of the Treasury.
Don’t see this change happening any time soon. Yes, the Scotland Office has appeared all but redundant, post devolution. Yes, it was on the verge of oblivion at various points during the Blair years.
But, under the part-time Mr Browne and the ever assiduous David Cairns, it’s gained a new role. You may question the validity of that role. You may think it of doubtful value to the smooth running of the state.
However, a role there is. The Scotland Office has taken upon itself the responsibility for keeping a watchful eye upon the new Scottish Government – and its chief protagonist, one A. Salmond.
It does other things too. It helped to facilitate the agreement with Bruce Crawford which allowed the Minister for Parliamentary Business to announce – on the very day of the Queen’s Speech – that Holyrood would be asked to consent to the UK legislating in certain agreed areas of the law which impinged upon devolved powers.
But there are strict limits to that concept of consistent liaison. For example, Edinburgh and London used to share their advance planning diary, the schedule setting out likely news events. That stopped on day one after Alex Salmond’s election and won’t be revived.
So, mostly, the Scotland Office – or, rather, its Ministers and special advisers – check up on the Scottish devolved government, from the standpoint of the UK Government. Bit like an embassy, in fact.