Northern Ireland news

Devolved ministers warn against Whitehall power grab

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon and her counterparts Nichola Mallon in the devolved administrations of Scotland and Wales voiced concern about the erosion of regional power. Picture by Peter Morrison/PA Wire

INFRASTRUCTURE Minister Nichola Mallon has joined with her counterparts in the devolved administrations of Scotland and Wales to voice concern about the erosion of regional power through the controversial UK Internal Market Bill.

In a letter to Whitehall minister Grant Shapps, Ms Mallon and co-signatories Michael Matheson and Ken Skates, Holyrood and Cardiff's respective transport ministers, said central government “seems intent to encroach into our devolved powers”.

They say the move is “eroding trust”.

“Sections of the Internal Market Bill – notably section 46 - create a mechanism for the UK government to spend money in areas related to infrastructure that are clearly devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and without any required engagement with the devolved governments,” the ministers said.

They warned that a central government ‘connectivity review' announced in June “must not be positioned to create a list of schemes by which that new power can then be utilised without our consent”.

The letter noted there has been “historic underfunding of infrastructure outside of London and the southeast of England”.

“However, the way in which we work together to address that problem and improve connectivity must be done in the right way,” the devolved ministers said.

“Any review must respect the individual responsibilities and devolved functions that rest with each of our four democratic devolved parliaments and that rest with us as ministers.”

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