THE SNP has been accused of “misleading Scots” over who would pay their state pensions under independence by the UK minister in charge of the issue.

Guy Opperman said it was wrong to suggest that taxpayers in the rest of the UK would pay for pensions north of the border if Scotland left the Union.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford last week sparked a fierce row over who would meet the cost of state pensions after a Yes vote, suggesting it would be a legacy obligation for the UK.

He told ITV Border that Scots who had paid UK national insurance had accumulated the right to a UK pension.

This was in spite of the White Paper on independence given to voters before the 2014 referendum saying that for existing pensioners “the responsibility for the payment of that pension will transfer to the Scottish Government”.

Mr Blackford told ITV Border: “You pay into a national insurance fund. Ok, the UK is then responsible for the disbursements of that, and it covers cash flow for a certain period, but that’s a right to a UK pension - there’s no ifs, there’s no buts about that.”

At FMQs last Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon said people with “accumulated rights would continue to receive the current levels fo state pension in an independent Scotland”.

She also said the pension would be the same value or higher under independence.

She cited comments by former UK pensions minister Steve Webb in May 2014 as her authority, but failed to mention Mr Webb later clarified his position in a letter to MPs.

He said: “People in the rest of the UK would not be expecting to guarantee or underwrite the pensions of those living in what would then have become a separate country.”

Economists at the University of Strathclyde's Fraser of Allander Institute also published a paper at the weekend confirming that the state pension is not paid from a "pot" built up during people’r working lives but from current tax revenues.

They concluded that the issue of which government met the bill would "become a matter for wider negotiations around the division of assets and liabilities in general, and reciprocity agreements for social security more specifically".

Mr Opperman yesterday told the Scottish Mail on Sunday: “If Scotland chooses to become a foreign country, then working English, Welsh and Northern Irish taxpayers should not pay for a foreign country's pension liabilities. 

"That has been the position of the UK Government since before the 2014 referendum.

"Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Blackford are, once again, misleading Scots."

An SNP spokesperson said: "The UK Government said in 2014 that after independence people would still be entitled to the pension contributions they had made to the UK system.

"However, independence will give us the chance to provide better pensions than currently available, given that the UK has a state pension provision lag ging behind many developed nations."