THE UK Government will consider “sanctions” that could be imposed on the Scottish Government for spending money on areas such as independence, a Tory minister has said.

Speaking in the House of Lords on Monday, Lucy Neville-Rolfe said that the UK Government’s standard rule book would have to be changed to “relate to the sort of changes in the devolution settlements”.

The comment from the Cabinet Office minister and Tory peer came as members of the Lords discussed changes to the Cabinet Manual, where the main laws, rules and conventions affecting the conduct and operation of government are set out.

READ MORE: Stephen Flynn accuses top UK civil servant of 'partisan political agenda'

Labour peer George Foulkes said that the changes in the devolution settlement left open specific questions that needed to be addressed in an updated copy.

He told the Lords: “Since the last Cabinet Manual was considered, and also when the Scotland Act was passed through both houses of this parliament, it was never envisaged that the Scottish Government would stray into reserved areas, as they are now doing, and therefore there are no sanctions for the UK Government to take in relation to that kind of action.

“Would this be something that could be considered when this Cabinet Manual is being revised?”

Neville-Rolfe said in response: “I will certainly take that point away.

The National:

“It's obviously a UK Government document, signed off by UK ministers, accountable to UK Parliament, but one of the revisions that will be needed will relate to the sort of changes in the devolution settlements.

“I think there have been two Wales bills and two Scotland bills since the manual was last revised.”

The comments come after Simon Case, the UK's most senior civil servant, confirmed in response to a question from Foulkes that government officials are probing Scottish Government spending in reserved areas such as the constitution.

During an appearance at the Lords Constitution Committee last week, the Labour peer pushed Case on what is devolved to Scotland and what is reserved to Westminster.

Case said that “civil servants in Scotland and Wales can only spend their money on areas that are within their competence”, before confirming that the constitution is a reserved matter.

He was then asked specifically about Jamie Hepburn (below), the Scottish Government’s Minister for Independence, and the team of 20 civil servants allegedly supporting his work.

The National: Minister for Independence Jamie Hepburn

Case responded: “We are looking at some of these specifics as we speak, and doing that with ministers at the moment to see whether we need to issue further guidance and clarification to civil servants about what is and is not appropriate spending.

“I don’t want to prejudge the outcome of that.”

The news also comes after the Scottish Government said it would soon publish a new paper on citizenship in an independent Scotland.

Produced by civil servants, the document will be the fifth in a series looking to lay the groundwork for a new country after a Yes vote.

However, Conservatives have called the developing prospectus a "blatant misuse of public money and resources".

Foulkes said after the news of the paper was announced: "Humza Yousaf to unveil another taxpayer-funded Scottish independence blueprint.

"This is outrageous after the Head of the Civil Service said he was investigating improper use of civil servants by @scotgov."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "The Scottish Government was elected with a clear mandate to provide the people of Scotland with the information they need to make an informed choice about their future.

"It is the role of the civil service to support the elected government of the day in developing and implementing its policies.”

SNP cabinet spokesperson, Kirsty Blackman MP, said that attempts to thwart the Scottish Government promoting the benefits of independence may prove instrumental in dismantling the idea of the UK as a consensual arrangement. 

She said: "It is deeply ironic that unelected members of the House of Lords are seeking to dictate what Scotland's democratically elected Parliament can and can’t do.

“It’s also very clear that the process of trying to stymie the Scottish Parliament is being driven by Tory ministers, egged on by a Labour peer, not civil servants.

"The 2021 Scottish Parliament election saw a majority of MSPs elected on a pro-independence platform, and these attempts to stop the Scottish Government from promoting the benefits of Scotland becoming an independent country destroy the very notion of the UK as a consensual arrangement.”