Inter-governmental relations in the United Kingdom - Constitution Committee Contents


209.  As we stated at the start of the Introduction to this report, inter-governmental relations are a necessary part of multi-level governance, such as we have in the UK. The shape of these relations is dependent on the shape of the different devolution settlements, and therefore needs to adapt to significant changes in those settlements.

210.  Through the UK Parliament, successive governments have created and shaped the devolution settlements. They are now in a state of flux. They need to be stabilized and given a coherent rationale. It is for the UK Government to find and commit to a way forward to achieve that stability and coherence, within a strong United Kingdom. We believe that, as the Smith Commission emphasised, inter-governmental relations have an important contribution to make to that objective. This Report seeks to help define that contribution. Until the current process of devolution reaches, if not a permanently settled state, at least a period of greater stability, the system of inter-governmental relations will need to keep on adapting to changes in the devolution settlements.

211.  As we note in our recent report Proposals for the devolution of further powers to Scotland, we consider that the Government, and the major UK-wide parties, need to devise and articulate a vision for the future of the state and its devolution settlements. An overarching vision for the future shape of the United Kingdom should be a stabilising force in its own right and would also allow for inter-governmental arrangements to be organised on a more stable basis.

  1. In September 2014 the people of Scotland voted for the continuation of a devolved Scotland within the UK; the people of the UK as a whole need now to establish how the Union will work in future. An overarching strategy should reinforce the central position of the Union in our country's constitutional architecture, while recognising the benefits that devolution can bring. A comprehensive, pan-UK strategy is needed to provide a coherent basis for any discussions of further devolution and afford greater constitutional stability to the United Kingdom.

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