Posted: Fri 9th Jun 2023

How well does Whitehall understand devolution? MPs call for evidence in new inquiry

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Jun 9th, 2023

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee is today (Friday,  9 June) launching a new inquiry to examine the Government’s progress on building devolution capability in central Government.

The Committee will explore the steps the Government is taking to embed consideration of every part of the UK in policymaking and operational delivery.

MPs are seeking views on the training and guidance ministers and civil servants receive on the different devolution arrangements in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland and how effective it is, including from the devolved institutions on how they view capability in Whitehall.

The Committee will review the extent to which the Dunlop Review of Union Capability has been implemented. Published in 2021, the Dunlop Review found that intergovernmental machinery was “not fit for purpose” and included recommendations to improve civil service capability, such as more opportunities for civil servants to move between the four administrations in the UK.

The Committee will examine how the relationships between the Cabinet Office, the Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales Offices, and other Government departments function in practice, as well as the cooperation between civil servants in the different administrations.

William Wragg MP, Chair of PACAC, 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. In that time, we have also seen the repatriation of powers to the UK after leaving the EU 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.”

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