Northern Ireland

MPs to examine how well UK ministers understand devolution

The inquiry will assess how well the UK Government understands and enforces devolution (PA)
The inquiry will assess how well the UK Government understands and enforces devolution (PA)

An inquiry to determine how well the UK Government understands and considers devolution has been launched by a Westminster committee.

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee will seek to examine how UK ministers have progressed with building on the devolution capability and how it is embedded within policymaking.

Ministers and civil servants will be quizzed on the guidance they receive on the devolution arrangements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Devolved ministers and leaders may also be asked to contribute to the inquiry to give evidence on how the institutions view Whitehall’s devolution capabilities.

Coronavirus – Thu Jan 20, 2022
William Wragg is chairman of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (Parliament TV/PA)

It follows the Dunlop Review into union capability, published in 2021, which called the intergovernmental relationship between the four national governments “not fit for purpose”.

The report recommended civil service capability was improved, including more opportunities for officials to move between the four UK administrations.

The committee will also examine how well the civil service co-operates in different administrations, and how the relationships between the Cabinet Office and the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Office functions.

Tory MP William Wragg, chairman of the committee, said: “It has been 25 years since the devolution settlements fundamentally changed the governance of the United Kingdom, with the establishment of devolved institutions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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The committee is seeking views of those who have worked at the Scottish Parliament, and other devolved institutions (Jane Barlow/PA)

“In that time, we have also seen the repatriation of powers to the UK after leaving the UK and further changes to the powers of the devolved institutions.

“It is crucial that ministers and civil servants in Whitehall fully understand the implications of the devolution settlements on the policymaking process and maintain the skills and knowledge necessary to deliver for every part of the UK.

“The Government committed to improving devolution capability in response to the Dunlop Review in 2021, but has it done so satisfactorily? We want to find out what progress has been made and hear from those who have worked with and within Whitehall and the devolved administrations.”

Submissions to the inquiry will be open until September 8.