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Yesterday I chaired the Joint Ministerial Committee on EU negotiations, attended by Scottish and Welsh Government Ministers and civil servants from Northern Ireland. This, the eighth such JMC meeting that I have chaired this year, followed the significant progress made in recent months with the devolved Governments in developing UK-wide frameworks to protect the vital internal market of the United Kingdom.
From policing to education, health and the environment, the approach of the Scottish National party Government is that control from Edinburgh is best, and when in doubt, centralise. Can my right hon. Friend update the House on what he is doing to ensure that the Smith commission promise to ensure decentralisation from Edinburgh is met?
The Smith commission was clear that it is the responsibility of the Scottish Government to work with the Scottish Parliament, civic Scotland and local authorities to ensure that power is devolved from Holyrood to local communities. For our part, we are ready to help the Scottish Government to implement the Smith commission in full and will give them our support if and when they choose to do that.
I set out the Government’s position yesterday in the debate. We will reflect upon the outcome of the vote yesterday, but at the moment, there is no agreed deal. There is a provisional agreement between negotiators, which has yet to be considered by the UK Cabinet or the 27 member states meeting in Council.
My hon. Friend makes a good point. It is fantastic to see such wide diversity of candidates in Walsall. I remind the House that the Government Equalities Office is providing financial assistance for all MPs, to encourage female constituents to come here on
We believe that the legislation is working well, but we would be happy to look into any specific further points that the hon. Gentleman would like to make.
The Government Equalities Office funding is in education, its staff are in the Home Office and its Ministers are in the Department for International Development. My Select Committee recommended a year ago the wholesale move of the GEO to the Cabinet Office. Does my right hon. Friend agree with that?
My right hon. Friend and her Committee did indeed make a powerful case. It has needed a lot of cross-departmental discussion, but I hope that in the very near future, we will be in a position to give her a definitive response.