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23 June 2020
UK Government should publish findings of devolution review, committee says


UK Government should publish findings of devolution review, committee says

The UK Government should publish the findings of a review into devolution and the union, the chair of a Westminster committee has said.

Conservative MP William Wragg wrote to cabinet minister Michael Gove asking when the report by Lord Dunlop into UK Government ‘union capability’ will be shared with devolved governments.

The review was launched in July 2019 after MPs concluded relations between the Scottish and UK governments had “broken down”. Its findings were delivered to UK ministers in December.

Scottish cabinet minister for constitution Michael Russell told the committee on Tuesday that he had “almost forgotten it existed”.

He said the current forum for intergovernmental cooperation, the joint ministerial council, had not functioned properly and was “bust” as it had not been used during the coronavirus pandemic.

Russell called for an alternative to be created, something health secretary Jeane Freeman also suggested when she appeared before MPs last week.

The public administration and constitutional affairs committee held an inquiry in 2018 into how Brexit could affect the devolution settlement.

It recommended that the UK Government work on a “devolution policy for the union”.

In his letter to Gove, Wragg said that the government had received the report more than six months ago and that cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill had told the committee that UK ministers had the power to publish it.

He added: “The emerging tensions between the UK and devolved governments over the response to Covid-19 response, and EU exit arrangements, raise serious questions about the effectiveness of existing mechanisms for consulting and co-ordinating on policy.

“The Dunlop Report may teach us valuable lessons and improve how we develop ongoing strategies to mitigate the serious consequences of the pandemic and is important in helping to develop a better understanding of how practise need to change to fit the UKs current constitutional arrangements.

“The committee urges the Government to publish the report immediately, and indicate how it intends take its findings forward to improve how the UK Government works with its counterparts in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.”

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