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Strengthening the Union and Intergovernmental Relations

Volume 691: debated on Wednesday 24 March 2021

Today I am providing an update on the UK Government’s work on the Union and intergovernmental relations (IGR) with devolved Administrations. These are:

A progress update on the joint IGR review.

The inaugural quarterly report on the UK Government’s engagement with the devolved Administrations.

The Dunlop review into UK Government Union capability, alongside our response to Lord Dunlop which sets out UKG’s progress in implementing recommendations.

Copies of all these documents have been laid in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament and are available on

The UK Government are steadfast in their commitment to protect and promote the hundreds of years of shared history, beliefs and interests embodied in our Union, the most successful political and economic partnership the world has seen.

Our response to the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of the broad shoulders of the UK Government in supporting the whole country. It has shown we are at our strongest when we come together as one United Kingdom. Together we are better able to tackle big problems, from defending our borders and fighting national cyber security threats, to delivering the furlough scheme to protect our jobs, and being first to secure the covid-19 vaccine for citizens across the UK.

Today demonstrates the UK Government commitment to putting the foundations in place for our covid-19 recovery. For our family of nations to thrive—for the Union of the UK to prosper—the UK Government will continue to work smarter for people in every part of the country, building back better and stronger from covid-19 and able, outside the European Union, to target money where it is most needed.

Progress update on the IGR review

The IGR review is a joint review by the UK Government and devolved Administrations to make sure intergovernmental structures are fit for purpose. This publication is the product of months of detailed analysis of how the UK Government and devolved Administrations can work together effectively, reconciling a range of goals and aspirations from all parts of the UK. It details our ambitious and forward-looking approach to future IGR, ensuring an effective culture of collaboration and co-operation, protecting the integrity of our Union and shaping our common future. Where discussions are ongoing, the UK Government suggested position is included in square brackets. We are committed to continuing discussions with our devolved Administration colleagues on these areas after the May elections.

Work has already begun to implement these measures across UK Government Departments, allowing this improved collaboration between the UK Government and the devolved Administrations to begin as soon as possible. We will continue to reflect on these arrangements to ensure they remain fit for purpose.

The UK Government and devolved Administrations continue to work together on the common frameworks programme. This has resulted in further frameworks being agreed, including Food Compositional Standards and Labelling; Blood Safety and Quality; Organs, Tissues and Cells Safety and Quality; and Public Procurement, which have been laid in Parliament.

Quarterly report on the UK Government engagement with the devolved Administrations

Our first quarterly report on the UK Government’s engagement with the devolved Administrations reflects the value the Government place on the core principles of transparency of intergovernmental relations. Due to the pre-election periods in Wales and Scotland, we are publishing this information early, covering a shorter period of two months; the next quarterly report will be published in July 2021.

This report predominantly provides information from all UK Government Departments on their participation in intergovernmental meetings with the devolved Administrations in January and February 2021. It is supplemented with a summary of engagement which has taken place since July 2019. The report will support the UK Parliament’s capacity to scrutinise our role in intergovernmental relations, so that parliamentarians can help guide our approach to strengthening our Union, while also demonstrating our commitment to transparency of IGR.

Dunlop review into UK Government union capability

We are very grateful to Lord Dunlop for his independent and expert assessment and analysis of the UK Government operations in the areas of devolution and IGR. We have carefully studied all of his recommendations and his report has provided the impetus for a wide-ranging programme of reform that I and my colleagues will continue to pursue vigorously.