Closer UK and Scottish relations must be backed by political will, MPs say

11 March 2010

Closer cooperation between the UK and Scottish parliaments and governments is only possible if backed up by political will, concludes the Scottish Affairs Committee in a report published today.

It says removing procedural barriers is only one part of improving communication and cooperation; structural changes alone will not make the difference.

The report examines the recommendations of the Commission on Scottish Devolution ('the Calman Commission'), specifically the parts which relate to relations between the two parliaments.

The Committee’s key findings are;

  • The Government should make time for a regular 'State of Scotland' debate, to include devolved matters
  • The UK and Scottish governments have given a positive response to the idea of appearing before committees of either Parliament; any such invitations should reflect the workload and timetable of the ministers concerned
  • The idea of a 'Scottish Super Grand Committee' composed of Scottish MPs, MSPs and Scottish MEPs should be revisited
  • Changes should be made to allow UK and Scottish parliamentary committees to work together, for example attending meetings in a non-voting capacity
  • Positive consideration should be given to whether Scottish ministers can give evidence to UK Parliament committees examining Scotland Act Orders
  • Arrangements should be made to remove any unnecessary barriers to access for MSPs visiting Westminster
  • A programme of exchanges and secondments with the Scottish Parliament should be funded and encouraged by the House

The Chair of the Committee, Mohammad Sarwar MP, said:

"That we continue to debate the findings of the Calman Commission is testament to its importance. We warmly commend the work of the Commission and agree with its key finding that mutual respect between the governments and parliaments is paramount.

"The recommendations we have made in our report are designed to facilitate closer cooperation, but this will only become a reality if supported by genuine political will. We urge the future Scottish Affairs Committee to continue our work to ensure this happens."

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