‘Leaving the EU will change the constitutional arrangements of the UK in relation to the devolution settlements’, says a July 2018 report from the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee.
The report concludes that there is a growing consensus that the current inter-governmental relations mechanisms in the UK are not fit for purpose.
It finds that:
- UK Governments have repeatedly noted that “the current devolution settlements were created in the context of the UK’s membership of the EU”. This EU context has masked many of the key constitutional questions and ambiguities raised by the introduction and subsequent development of devolution since 1998
- Although, there remains some variation in the different devolution settlements, the shifting of Wales from a conferred to a reserved powers model indicates that the reserved powers model is now the constitutionally preferred model for devolution within the UK
- It is highly regrettable that there was little consultation with devolved Governments in advance of the publication of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, as earlier consultation could have possibly avoided much of the acrimony that was created between the UK Government and the devolved Governments
- At a time when devolution has become an established feature of the UK constitution, the question of England’s place in the constitution needs urgently to be addressed. A failure to do so risks a sense of increasing disconnection of the English people from the political system.
The Committee welcomes the continued work within Whitehall to improve knowledge and understanding of devolution. However, they are concerned that so much work still needs to be done 20 years on from the establishment of devolution in 1998.