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Stephen Kerr MP has secured a Westminster Hall debate on the future of the UK’s constitutional machinery and frameworks for intergovernmental cooperation. This debate pack provides historical context on UK Governmental machinery and outlines the main calls for it to be reformed, both generally and in the context of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The UK constitution relies on informal, non-legislative, mechanisms by which different levels of government cooperate with one another. Most of this machinery was created as a consequence of the creation of devolution settlements in 1998 for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The UK Government has “territorial offices” whose function is to facilitate relations with the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive. The Cabinet Office is also responsible for intergovernmental discussions where matters arise between them.

The key documents that underpin intergovernmental co-operation are:

The parent forum for intergovernmental cooperation is the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC). It consists of the respective Heads of Government in the United Kingdom and, where relevant, the Deputy Prime Minister and Secretaries of State for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but other Ministers may attend in certain circumstances where the relevant areas of policy discussion require it.

The JMC has several sub-committees, including two standing sub-committees (Europe and Domestic) and others formed on an ad-hoc basis, to address specific issues. The most notable of these in recent months has been the Joint Ministerial Committee on European Negotiations (JMC (EN)). It has handled intergovernmental discussions about the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union and its impact on the devolution settlements.

There have been calls (both separately from and in light of the UK’s exit from the European Union) for the structures and machinery of intergovernmental cooperation in the UK to be reformed.

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