A LABOUR peer has urged the Chancellor and Alister Jack to use a little-known part of the Scotland Act to “curtail” Scottish Government spending in reserved areas.

George Foulkes said in a letter to both Jeremy Hunt and the Scottish Secretary that Section 96 of the 1998 Act could be used to curb Holyrood spending.

That part of the act relates to the “provision of information to the Treasury”. It states that the UK Treasury can require Scottish ministers to provide it with any information which can be “reasonably” specified.

Foulkes said this paragraph could be used to “implement a thorough monitoring and review process” which could be used to “curtail expenditure in … reserved areas”.

The National: SNP Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson

He told The National: "While the devolved areas like health, education and social care are suffering cutbacks, the SNP are sending Angus Robertson (above) around the world, 'embassies' are being opened where they are not needed and money squandered on a political campaign with a Minister for Independence and entourage.

"Just as they used Section 35 of the Scotland Act, the UK Government should now invoke Section 96 and step in to monitor and control this improper spending."

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The Labour peer wrote in his letter to Hunt and Jack: “Earlier this year, I wrote to you in order to express my concerns around the improper nature of Scottish Government spending on a Minister for Independence, and I urged the Treasury to urgently review this matter.

“I would like to reinforce this request, in light of the Scottish Government’s persistent spending on reserved issues, during a period of fiscal instability which has led to an alarming £1.5 billion budget shortfall.

“As I previously noted, the SNP administration has funded a number of vanity projects with Scottish taxpayers’ money, including the aforementioned Minister for Independence, overseas embassies, overseas travel on areas reserved to the UK Government, development assistance beyond the areas agreed with [the Department for International Development] and a whole series of publications on the case for independence.

“I understand there is a good case for a limited and well-defined Scottish presence in the international arena, particularly regarding business matters which impact Scottish industries; however, the First Minister’s most recent actions at COP, surreptitiously meeting with foreign heads of state, significantly undermines the ‘united front’ which is foundational to effective foreign policy.

“I would therefore ask that the Treasury seriously considers utilising Section 96 of the Scotland Act (1998) to implement a thorough monitoring and review process and, where appropriate, directly intervenes to curtail expenditure in these and other reserved areas.”

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Foulkes (above), a former MP and MSP who now sits as a Labour peer, has repeatedly tried to have the UK Government block its Scottish counterpart from spending in reserved areas such as the constitution.

Foulkes has previously argued for UK officials to probe any spending from the Scottish Government on the issue.

Simon Case, the UK's most senior civil servant, told Foulkes in July that work looking at devolved administrations' spending in reserved areas was ongoing.

Later that month, Tory peer and Cabinet Office minister Lucy Neville-Rolfe told him that the UK Government would consider what "sanctions" could be imposed on devolved administrations for any breaches.

A Treasury spokesperson said: “It is for the Scottish Government to decide how to allocate their resources in devolved areas, and they are accountable to the Scottish Parliament for those decisions.

“But the people of Scotland also rightly expect that taxpayers’ money is spent on their priorities, like creating jobs and opportunities for young people, delivering support for the cost-of-living, and boosting public services.

“The Treasury is in regular communication with Scottish Government Finance and receives monthly reports on Scottish Government spending in line with usual processes.”