The claim that the UK is a “Union of equals” is a “myth that has been put around by the SNP,” a senior Labour peer has claimed. 

The comments from Lord Foulkes were jumped on by the SNP, with the First Minister saying the Cumonck Baron had said “the quiet bit out loud”.

READ MORE: UK ministers look at 'sanctions' on Scottish Government over Indy work

Lord Foulkes was being interviewed by the BBC after it emerged the UK Government is considering imposing “sanctions” on the Scottish Government for spending public money on independence.

The former MSP and MP has long questioned the devolved administration's use of taxpayers' cash on something he argues is beyond their powers. 

Earlier this week, Cabinet office minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe told the House of Lords she would consider the issue as part of revisions to the UK Government rulebook. 

She said changes to the Cabinet Manual would be required in relation to “the devolution settlements”.

The Manual, which guides officials and ministers on constitutional issues, was last published in 2011, and a new draft version is expected this autumn.

Lord Foulkes was asked if it is right that unelected peers in the House of Lords could support sanctioning the elected Scottish Government.

The Labour peer replied: “Yes, they will go on about the unelected House of Lords but it is part of our constitution and actually … I’m campaigning to replace it with a senate of the nations and regions. But meanwhile, it is part of our constitution.

“The SNP like us when we overrule the Tory government, recently on the Illegal Immigration Bill, they say oh we’re doing a grand job. Well, they can’t have it both ways.”

READ MORE: SNP ministers urged to pause Indy prospectus amid spending row

The peer was then asked if the UK was a “union of equal partners”.

Foulkes replied: “No, it was never meant to be a union of equal partners. That is a myth that has been put around by the SNP.

“We each have our own responsibilities. As you know, I was a member of the Scottish Parliament as well as a member of the House of Commons, and in each of them I took part in what was their responsibilities at that time.

“We each have our own responsibilities but they’re different. To call them equal is not the right word, they’re different. They have different responsibilities.”

Taking to Twitter, the First Minister said: “Scottish Labour's Lord Foulkes saying the quiet bit out loud. He rubbishes the suggestion that Scotland is part of a union of equals.

“Scotland is seen as secondary, an afterthought by Westminster.

“Independence, being equal to any other independent nation, is perfectly normal.”

SNP MP Joanna Cherry KC wrote: “George Foulkes all over the place on #GMS. Very confused about difference between 300-year-old Union between Scotland and England and modern devolved settlement.

“Tells us the Union was ‘never meant to be a Union of equals’. Is that the official Labour position?”

READ MORE: UK Government probing Scottish Government independence spend

Under Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish Government began publishing a new multi-part prospectus, Building a New Scotland, in June last year, with two further parts in July and October.

A fourth was published last month, and a fifth is due to be released tomorrow. 

In November, it emerged 25 civil servants costing up to £1.5m a year in wages were working on the Scottish Government prospectus, including one paid up to £83,000.

Last month, the Herald revealed that Mr Hepburn has no budget and only one regular member of staff working for him.

Yet as well as his basic MSP's wage of £67,662 in 2023/24, he is paid an additional £31,854 as a minister.