Tiers of Government: Collaboration

Oral Answers to Questions — Duchy of Lancaster – in the House of Commons at on 6 February 2019.

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Photo of Simon Clarke Simon Clarke Conservative, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland

What steps he has taken to review how different tiers of Government work together.

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

We are committed to working productively with all levels of government, including local authorities, directly elected mayors and devolved Administrations across the UK. We will also work closely with the devolved Administrations to review the formal structure of inter-governmental relations.

Photo of Simon Clarke Simon Clarke Conservative, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland

People across the Tees Valley are delighted at the devolution model led by Ben Houchen, our excellent Conservative mayor. Ben is delivering on his manifesto promises, which included rescuing Teesside airport and leading the regeneration of the steelworks. Will my right hon. Friend commit the Government to maintaining their excellent record of support for Ben’s work in getting Teesside on the front foot again?

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

I pay tribute to the leadership that Ben Houchen and his colleagues on the Tees Valley combined authority have shown. They have very ambitious plans, and we look forward to continuing our joint working with them on a local industrial strategy to drive productivity, growth and employment in the Teesside region.

Photo of Paul Girvan Paul Girvan Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Education), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Transport)

In light of there being no Executive in Northern Ireland, what measures are being taken to ensure services can be delivered for Northern Ireland? Especially within the public sector, we have had difficulty in getting decisions across the line. We need ministerial intervention.

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

As the hon. Gentleman knows, Parliament agreed to change the law late last year to give Ministers in the Northern Ireland Office greater powers in giving directions to the Northern Ireland civil service, but the answer is for the political parties in Northern Ireland to come together so that we can see the Executive and the Assembly restored. That is the way to give effective representation for effective decisions to be taken.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Chair, Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Chair, Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee

My right hon. Friend will be aware that there is no formal machinery for the Parliaments of the United Kingdom to work together and to scrutinise the work of the Joint Ministerial Committee and the Executive functions that work together. The Interparliamentary Forum on Brexit again met in January and called for this. Will he support this Parliament and provide it with the necessary resources so we can institute proper interparliamentary machinery in the United Kingdom?

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

We are very open to proposals from my hon. Friend’s Committee and from others in this House and the House of Lords. We are working together with the devolved Parliaments and Assemblies. If Parliament will lead, the Government will support it.

Photo of Lucy Powell Lucy Powell Labour/Co-operative, Manchester Central

One way in which the Government are coming together across Departments is through the Leader of the House’s working group on the early years, which is supported by the right hon. Gentleman’s Department. Will he ensure that that review remains ambitious and radical in its proposals and does not become a victim of departmental-itis?

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

Having spoken to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House about this on a number of occasions, I do not think anybody can doubt her determination to ensure that this issue is given proper priority. I expect proposals from that group later this year.