The Centre on Constitutional Change, along with the Bennett Institute for Public Policy, has issued a report on the state of intergovernmental relations in the UK. We will be issuing blogs and other resources relating to this report over the coming weeks but this post outlines our key recommendations.
Principles of IGR
- Respect for the authority of different governments across the UK. This includes respecting the devolution settlements; respecting the UK parliament’s legislative authority in reserved matters; and respecting the authority and democratic legitimacy of each government to determine their own policy priorities in their respective spheres of competence, recognising that these may generate divergent policy preferences.
- Recognising that the reality of modern government in a multi-level political system requires some degree of intergovernmental cooperation. As Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale put it, ‘the modern, 21st-century UK is, even more than it was before, a shared sovereignty operation’. The interdependence between reserved and devolved matters points to the benefits of intergovernmental cooperation in areas of shared interest. These may be in fields designated in law as either devolved or reserved matters.
- Proportionality. Respecting the autonomy and authority of each legislature involves adopting a proportionate approach to the development of inter-governmental processes or regulatory bodies. Such a proportionality principle should help to ensure that intergovernmental mechanisms and forums are established only when required to serve a mutually agreed purpose.
- Transparency. While we recognise the importance of confidentiality and a safe space for the exchange of ideas and frank opinions between governments, the effective functioning of IGR in a democracy requires that governments ultimately be accountable for their actions. A commitment to greater transparency where appropriate should serve as a guiding principle in IGR.