The Labour peer George Foulkes is to challenge the Scottish Government spending public funds abroad as part of his efforts to hamstring Humza Yousaf’s administration.

Lord Foulkes, who has attacked the First Minister over his independence prospectus, is now trying to stop “illegal” spending on overseas offices and foreign trips by Holyrood ministers.

The Scottish Goverment spent £7m maintaining international offices in 2022/23 in China, the USA, Canada, France, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and Denmark.

The former MSP recently questioned the head of the UK civil service Simon Case about the SNP-Green Government spending public money on a series of papers about independence.

Lord Foulkes has called the Building a New Scotland series is “deliberately provocative” as by definition it deals with powers which are outside Holyrood’s control.

Critics say the papers are essentially political campaigning at the taxpayers’ expense.

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Around 20 officials are reported to be working on them, with salary costs for the Constitutional Futures Division of around £1.4million in 2022/23.

In response to Lord Foulkes, Mr Case told the House of Lords’ Constitution Committee that it was “unusual and worrying” for officials to be working on the break up of the UK.

He also said new guidance would be issued to civil servants imminently on the issue.

Civil servants working in Scotland are part of the UK-wide civil service, and must follow its rules, but also have a responsibility to deliver the Scottish Government’s policies.

Mr Yousaf has insisted that he has a mandate from voters to pursue independence, while Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has backed Mr Case’s review of the guidelines.

On Wednesday, Lord Foulkes said he would be “intensifying” his campaign “to stop illegal spending” by the Scottish Government when Westminster resumes next week.

He added: “An elected dictatorship is always wrong but when it is a devolved government there is a way it can be stopped if the UK Government exercises its responsibility.”

Lord Foulkes explained to the Herald on Sunday he planned to ask questions in the chamber and in committee in order to secure a Lords debate “on all aspects” of the situation, which a UK Government minister would attend.

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He said his five-point plan was to: 

-Follow up the Simon Case Review to find what action has been taken

-Challenge the spending on some of the overseas offices and the trips overseas by Ministers

-Follow up concerns that money allocated by the Treasury to the Scottish Government for specific purposes has been diverted elsewhere

-Catalogue the growing list of scandals such as Gupta, Ferries, Rangers and other Court cases, Credit Card expenditure, Deposit Return Scheme etc.

-Further challenge on expenditure on the Independence Minister and his retinue.

He said: “I have had overwhelming support for the action I am taking - by email and in person. It is clear more and more people are getting fed up with the arrogance and hypocrisy of the Scottish Government.

“There must be a stop to all ultra vires spending, switching earmarked cash to other areas and accountability accepted for all the scandals from the ferries to Deposit Return Scheme and everything in between.”

SNP MP Drew Hendry said: "This extraordinary attack from an unelected peer on the democratically elected Scottish Government shows, yet again, that the pro-Brexit Labour Party can't be trusted to defend devolution or stand up for Scotland's democratic right to choose our own future.

"The fact that the Labour Party has repeatedly joined with the Tories to attack and undermine the Scottish Parliament shows that independence is the only way to protect Scottish democracy and build a fairer and wealthier future for Scotland.

"At the general election, voting SNP is the only way to secure independence, tackle the cost of living and escape the damage of Westminster control for good."