The House of Lords European Union Committee, in its report on Brexit: devolution, recommended that the structures for interparliamentary dialogue within the United Kingdom should be strengthened, to support more effective scrutiny of the Government's handling of Brexit. This led to the formation of the Interparliamentary Forum on Brexit, comprising the Chairs and Convenors of Committees scrutinising Brexit-related issues in the House of Commons, House of Lords, Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and, as and when the power-sharing institutions are restored, the Northern Ireland Assembly. The Forum held its first meeting in October 2017.
This third meeting was hosted by the Scottish Parliament and chaired by the Bruce Crawford MSP, Convener of the Finance and Constitution Committee. The European Union Committee was represented by Lord Whitty.
The attendees agreed the following statement.
Today, we the Conveners, Chairs and representatives of Committees scrutinising Brexit-related issues in the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales, House of Commons and House of Lords, met at the Scottish Parliament for the third meeting of the Inter-parliamentary Forum on Brexit, to discuss the on-going negotiations regarding the UK's withdrawal from the European Union, and our collective scrutiny of that process. Officials from the Northern Ireland Assembly were in attendance as observers.
Prior to today, meetings of the Inter-parliamentary Forum have tended to focus on the passage of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. We met today with Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs to discuss the Scottish Government's position on the Bill as well as the wider Brexit process.
We also took the opportunity to take a longer-term perspective on the operation of inter-governmental relations in the UK and the implications of Brexit for these relations. We recognise that the current system of inter-governmental relations in the UK is not fit for purpose and that there is an urgent need for substantial reform in the context of the Brexit process. This process will also present substantial challenges for legislatures across the UK in scrutinising these processes. Consideration of future inter-parliamentary collaboration on the issue of Brexit represented a significant strand of discussion.
The Forum will meet again in mid-June 2018, when we will review the progress of the Brexit negotiations and the implications of Brexit upon the devolution settlements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.