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Intergovernmental relations in the United Kingdom
AbbreviationIGR[1]
PredecessorJoint Ministerial Committee
Formation1 July 1999; 24 years ago (1999-07-01) (as JMC)[2]
2022 (as Three Tier System)
TypeIntergovernmental organisation
Purposecoordination among the administrations of the United Kingdom
Location
Membership
4:
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Scotland Scotland
Wales Wales
Northern Ireland
Chair
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Key people
First Minister of Scotland
First Minister of Wales
First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland
Main organ
UK Government
Scottish Government
Welsh Government
Northern Ireland Executive
Parent organisation
Prime Minister and Heads of Devolved Governments Council
Subsidiaries
  • interministerial standing committee (IMSC) (tier 2)
  • interministerial groups (IMG) (tier 3)
WebsiteGOV.UK (Cabinet Office): Intergovernmental Relations

In the United Kingdom, intergovernmental relations are the coordination and engagement between the UK Government and devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.[3] The Prime Minister and Heads of Devolved Governments Council is where the heads of these administrations meet.[4]

There is also a portfolio-specific Interministerial Standing Committee (IMSC; Welsh: Y Pwyllgor Sefydlog Rhyngweinidogol[5]) and interministerial groups (IMG) affiliated to the IMSC. These were established in 2022 following a series of reviews.[1][6] From 1999 to 2022, their predecessor the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC; Welsh: Y Cyd-bwyllgor Gweinidogion), established by memorandums of understanding, served a similar purpose.

Tiered governance

Prime Minister and Devolved Heads of Government Council (tier 1)

The Prime Minister and Devolved heads of Government Council (“the council”) consist of the Prime minister and the Devolved heads of Governments, the council is responsible for:

Prime Minister and Devolved heads of Government Council
Name Representing Council Position
Rishi Sunak United Kingdom[a] Chair [b]
Humza Yousaf Scotland Member
Mark Drakeford Wales Member
Michelle O'Neill

Emma Little-Pengelly

Northern Ireland Member

Meetings

Meeting date Location
10 November 2022 Blackpool

Interministerial Standing Committees (tier 2)

The Interministerial Standing Committee is led by Michael Gove and is responsible for discussing areas of cooperation that cannot be discussed at the Portfolio Committee, the committee will have representatives from all four nations and aim to meet monthly.[8]

There are currently two active intergovernmental committees.[9]

No Name of Interministerial Standing Committee
1. Interministerial
2. Finance

Meetings

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Interministerial Standing Committee
Meeting date Location [9]
23 March 2022 Video Conference
29 June 2022 Video Conference
Interministerial Finance Standing Committee
Meeting date Location [9]
21 March 2022 Video Conference
15 June 2022 Cardiff

Interministerial Groups (tier 3)

There are currently 7 active intergovernmental groups[9]

No Name of Intergovernmental Group
1. Business and Industry
2. Education
3. UK•EU Relations
4. Elections and Registration
5. Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs
6. Housing, Communities, and Local Government
7. COP26

Meetings

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Interministerial Group for Business and Industry
Meeting date Location [9]
8 February 2022 Video Call
24 March 2022 Video Call
Interministerial Committee for Education
Meeting date Location [9]
27 January 2022 Video Call
17 June 2022 Edinburgh
Interministerial Group for Elections & Registrations
Meeting date Location [9]
3 February 2021 Video Call
9 June 2021 Video Call
4 November 2021 Video Call
8 March 2022 Video Call
Interministerial Group for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Meeting date Location [9]
18 February 2019 Edinburgh
25 March 2019 London
29 April 2019 Cardiff
24 June 2019 London
9 September 2019 London
10 October 2019 Edinburgh
13 January 2020 London
17 February 2020 Belfast
27 April 2020 Video Call
20 May 2020 Video Call
29 June 2020 Video Call
29 July 2020 Video Call
14 September 2020 Video Call
2 November 2020 Video Call
16 November 2020 Video Call
7 December 2020 Video Call
25 January 2021 Video Call
22 March 2021 Video Call
28 June 2021 Video Call
13 September 2021 Video Call
6 December 2021 Video Call
31 January 2022 Video Call
21 March 2022 Video Call
16 May 2022 Video Call
20 July 2022 Video Call
Interministerial Group for Housing, Communities and Local Government
Meeting date Location [9]
24 May 2022 Video Call
Interministerial Group for Net Zero, Energy and Climate Change
Meeting date Location [9]
13 October 2020
30 November 2020
8 February 2021
12 April 2021
30 June 2021

Dispute resolution mechanism

There are 6 levels within the mechanism used settling disputes within the UK intergovernmental relations:[clarification needed]

The IGR Council is the final arbiter in any disputes.[10][failed verification]

History

Intergovernmental relations were previously governed by the Joint Ministerial Committee.[11] On 20 January 2020, the Constitution Committee within the House of Lords published a report outlining how the UK Government could improve intergovernmental relations.[12] In 2022, the UK Government and devolved governments came to an agreement on the intergovernmental relations in the UK.[13][14]

Joint Ministerial Committee (1999 to 2022)

The JMC was created in 1999 by Tony Blair's Labour government,[2] and sought to act as a focus for the coordination of the relationships between these administrations. The terms of reference for the JMC were:[15]

Membership

Before it was replaced, the membership of the JMC Plenary (JMC(P)) was:

The following may also attend sessions of the JMC:

Meetings

Since its creation in 1999, there had been several different JMC meeting formats.[2] Since 2010, there have been four types: plenary, Europe, domestic and European negotiations (created following the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum[17][18]).

The JMC Plenary meetings were intended to occur at least once every year. However, no plenary meetings were held between 2002 and 2008.[2] This was primarily because the UK, Scotland, and Wales governments were all controlled by the Labour Party, and as such ministers from the central and devolved governments could quickly and easily use informal links to coordinate policy.[19] However, following the Scottish National Party's victory at the 2007 Scottish Parliament election this was no longer the case. So JMC Plenary meetings were re-established, though on an ad hoc basis.[2]

Under proposals outlined by Theresa May in October 2016, the JMC Plenary was to meet on a definite annual basis and would have rotated between London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. It would have also published an annual report on its work and hoped to foster greater formal and informal links between ministers from each (devolved) government.[20][21] However, these proposals were vetoed by Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness.[20]

The last JMC Plenary was convened by Theresa May on 19 December 2018, even though soon after he became Prime Minister in July 2019, Boris Johnson announced his intention to hold a JMC Plenary meeting as soon as possible.[22]

See also

References and notes

  1. ^ The Prime Minister will also sit as the representative for England
  2. ^ The Prime minister represents both the UK and England in the Council
  1. ^ a b "Review of intergovernmental relations (HTML)". GOV.UK.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Devolution: Joint Ministerial Committee | The Institute for Government". www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk.
  3. ^ Paun, Akash; Henderson, Duncan (4 November 2022). "Intergovernmental relations". Institute for Government.
  4. ^ "Prime Minister and Heads of Devolved Governments Council communiqué 10 November 2022". GOV.UK. Retrieved 29 November 2022.
  5. ^ "Datganiad Ysgrifenedig: Y Pwyllgor Sefydlog Rhyngweinidogol (12 Gorffennaf 2022)". LLYW.CYMRU.
  6. ^ "Dunlop review (November 2019)" (PDF).
  7. ^ Pooran, Neil (13 January 2022). "Boris Johnson to chair council of UK's devolved administration leaders". Belfast Telegraph.
  8. ^ "New forum for talks between leaders from across UK". BBC News. 13 January 2022.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Paun, Akash; Henderson, Duncan (14 November 2022). "Timeline of known IGR committee meetings since the IGR review". Institute for Government.
  10. ^ Henderson, Paun; Duncan, Akash (14 November 2022). "How the UK and devolved governments resolve disputes". Institute for Government.
  11. ^ Paun, Akash; Sargeant, Jess; Shuttleworth, Kelly (1 July 2020). "Devolution: Joint Ministerial Committee". Institute for Government.
  12. ^ "Lords committee calls for revitalised United Kingdom". Scottish Legal News. 20 January 2022.
  13. ^ "Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) Review aims to strengthen relations between central government and devolved administrations". The Irish News. 14 January 2022.
  14. ^ "Boris Johnson to chair council of UK's devolved administration leaders". Peeblesshire News. 13 January 2022.
  15. ^ "Devolution of powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland". GOV.UK.
  16. ^ "DUP: NI First Minister Paul Givan announces resignation". BBC News. 3 February 2022. Retrieved 3 February 2022.
  17. ^ "Joint Ministerial Committee (Plenary) communiqué: 30 January 2017". GOV.UK.
  18. ^ "Brexit: DUP and Sinn Féin attend Theresa May meeting". BBC News. 30 January 2017. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  19. ^ June Burnham, Fragmentation and Central Control: Competing Forces in a Disunited Kingdom. In Jose Ruano and Marius Profiroiu (ed.), The Palgrave Handbook of Decentralisation in Europe, 2017, ISBN 978-3-319-32437-1, p. 144
  20. ^ a b "Union at the Crossroads: Can the British state handle the challenges of devolution? by Michael Kenny, Philip Rycroft and Jack Sheldon". The Constitution Society. 12 April 2021.
  21. ^ "Theresa May calls for 'grown-up' UK and Wales relations". BBC News. 23 October 2016.
  22. ^ "PM meeting with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon: 29 July 2019". 29 July 2019.