Constitutional Affairs Committee

Press Notice 11 of Session 2006-07, 21 February 2007


2007 marks the tenth anniversary of the devolution referenda which resulted in the creation of the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales. The impact of devolution on the politics and governance of the constituent parts of the UK where it has been implemented cannot be underestimated, and has been the focus of much political and academic interest. However, asymmetric devolution has also had a considerable impact on the centre, and in particular on the practices and procedures of Westminster and Whitehall. A decade on, the Constitutional Affairs Committee has decided to undertake an inquiry into the impact of devolution at the UK level, and its consequences for the United Kingdom's constitution.

In doing so, the inquiry will focus on some major questions: what problems and issues have arisen? What outstanding issues remain to be addressed? What does the future hold? The inquiry will therefore examine the condition of the UK's constitution a decade on.

The Terms of Reference for the inquiry are as follows:

1. Westminster: How does Parliament deal with devolution issues, e.g. legislating for Scotland and Wales.

2.What issues remain outstanding, e.g. 'the English question.'

3. Whitehall: What impact has devolution had on Whitehall? Has there been a change in culture? How have they responded to the divergence in policy making? How have the Concordats developed, and are they working?

4.Intergovernmental relations: How are bodies such as the British Irish Council working? What about representation at the EU level?

5 What is the future of the current Secretaries of State for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? Are the current arrangements for the Wales and Scotland offices within the DCA appropriate?

6.Devolution and the Courts: have there been legal disputes in the context of devolved/reserved issues and policy divergence?

7.What are the other outstanding issues around reserved and devolved issues? How could these be best resolved? Is the UK's model of asymmetric devolution sustainable?

8. What are the broader consequences of devolution for the future of the UK's constitution?

Call for evidence:

Submissions relating to the terms of reference above are invited from relevant interested parties. These should be sent to the Clerk of the Committee at the address above by Monday 16 April 2007. An electronic version in MS Word or Rich Text format should also be submitted, either by e-mail to or on a disk and this should be accompanied by a letter stating clearly who the submission is from, together with relevant contact details. Submissions should be as brief as possible, and certainly no more than 3,000 words. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and it would be helpful to include a brief executive summary. Attention is drawn to the guidance on the submission of evidence which can be found at


1. Committee Membership is as follows: Rt Hon Alan Beith MP (Chairman), David Howarth MP, Siân James MP, Mr Piara S Khabra MP, Jessica Morden MP, Julie Morgan MP, Robert Neill MP, Mr Andrew Tyrie MP, Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, Dr Alan Whitehead MP, Jeremy Wright MP

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