The Royal Society of Edinburgh has responded to a Scottish Parliament Finance and Constitution Committee consultation into Scotland and the UK Internal Market. The Advice Paper submitted builds upon previous work undertaken by the RSE into intergovernmental relations and common UK frameworks.
The RSE agreed with the findings House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, which lamented the absence of a formal and effective inter-governmental relations mechanism in the UK, and noted the urgency, and significant challenge, of developing such an apparatus.
The establishment of a new Independent Secretariat tasked with facilitating agreement on, developing and maintaining common frameworks across the UK, could play an important role in finding compromise between governments. The body would need to be seen as impartial, as serving the interests of the entire United Kingdom, and take into account the respective needs and interests of all the nations of the UK.
The RSE also strongly supported the Secretariat possessing an analytical capacity which would allow it to take the initiative to set agendas and resolve disputes by undertaking research into potential resolutions.
Given the increased importance of scrutiny from the Scottish Parliament on constitutional issues, and the considerable expansion of taxation and borrowing powers the Finance and Constitution Committee must scrutinise, the Advice Paper recommended that consideration be given to establishing two separate Holyrood committees to address Constitution and Intergovernmental Relations, and Finance respectively.
Over the coming months the RSE has plans in place to work alongside both the Finance and Constitution Committee and Scotland’s Futures Forum to further develop and discuss the ideas and recommendations raised in the consultation and discussed in the RSE response.
The RSE Advice Paper is available here: