THE UK Government is threatening to "tighten up" civil service rules on reserved and devolved issues, after a peer raised concerns over the Scottish Government's independence white papers. 

A spokesperson also said that the "principle" of a single civil service across the UK "must be maintained" and that officials in Scotland are answerable to the Cabinet Secretary in Whitehall.

This is despite civil servants in Scotland also having a responsibility to deliver the Scottish Government’s policies.

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Labour peer George Foulkes, meanwhile, welcomed the statement and called the Scottish Government a "rogue administration".

The news follows a row over Scottish Government civil servants working on a series of white papers arguing the case for an independent Scotland.

Nine papers have been drafted so far, the last of which focused on the progress already made in Scotland after powers over several social security benefits were devolved, and how an independent Scotland could go further. 

A report by the House of Lords Select Committee on the constitution in October warned the drafting of the papers had the potential to “cause confusion, particularly when it comes to the boundary between devolved competence and reserved matters”.

The UK Government gave its response today, saying: “The Government agrees with the Committee that the principle of a single Civil Service across England, Scotland and Wales must be maintained. 

“The Government recognises the strength of the argument that further guidance to tighten up best practice is required and is in the process of considering how such guidance would support civil servants working in the devolved administrations on areas that may relate to reserved matters, and help ensure the Civil Service Code is always maintained.”

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Lord Foulkes (above), who is also a member of the committee, said that "words must now be turned into actions". 

He added that the Scottish Government "cannot be allowed to stain the integrity of our civil service, with their petty identity politics".

He went on: “The SNP project has deliberately gnawed away at the boundary between devolved and reserved matters, and this report serves as a very timely reminder that utilising civil servants to support efforts to break up the UK does not fall under devolved competencies.

“I am therefore calling on the Cabinet Secretary and the Secretary of State for Scotland to effectively enforce the boundaries around appropriate spending, and thoroughly investigate ongoing and historical violations.

“Swift action is needed to stop spending on a Minister for Independence, his support staff, pretend embassies and other reserved areas, when the money could be redirected to devolved areas which are being starved of resources." 

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government has 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.”