Prime Minister's announcement
In her speech, delivered in Stirling, the Prime Minister said:
“There have been several reviews into how devolution works. But we have never thought deeply about how we make the Union work – how we ensure that as we fully respect devolution, we do not forget the UK Government’s fundamental duty to be a government for the whole United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
That is why I have asked Andrew Dunlop to lead an independent review into the structures of the UK Government to ensure that they are set up to realise fully all the benefits of being a United Kingdom.”
Committee's 2018 recommendation on devolution and Brexit
This closely echoes the Committee’s recommendation from its 2018 report, which examined how the Brexit process may impact the UK’s existing devolution settlement:
“In line with the recognition that devolution is an established and fundamental feature of the UK’s constitutional architecture, the Government should commit to a systematic review, in the year following the UK’s exit from the EU, of how Whitehall is structured and how it relates to the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
This review should also consider whether the role of the territorial offices in Whitehall and corresponding Secretaries of State are still necessary and, if they are, whether they might be reformed to promote better relations across Whitehall with the devolved administrations.”
Commenting on the announcement of the review, PACAC Chair Sir Bernard Jenkin MP said:
“Our report made clear that devolution is a significant feature of the UK constitutional architecture and should be treated with respect to maintain the integrity of the United Kingdom. We called on the Government to conduct a review how Whitehall relates to devolved governments.
“It is therefore heartening to see the Prime Minister announce an independent review into existing Whitehall structures, with the aim of ensuring the Union benefits all parts of the United Kingdom. My Committee will be closely examining the terms of reference for the review to ensure it can achieve the task it has been set.
“It is vital that her successor commits to providing Lord Dunlop with all the resources he needs to undertake this essential work, and my Committee will be following his efforts with interest.”