Beyond Brexit (European Union Committee Report) - Motion to Consider

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 12th May 2020.

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Photo of Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Labour 4:45 pm, 12th May 2020

My Lords, given the time limit, I will deal with just one issue in the report: the role of the devolved nations in the transition process.

It was about two decades ago, when I was Minister of State for Scotland, that I used to meet frequently with Scottish Ministers, on issues such as free personal care and the Barnett formula. We did not always agree, of course—as my noble friend Lord McConnell will no doubt confirm—but we had discussions, on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis. Where are the Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack, and his deputy, Douglas Ross, now? Why are they not discussing this? Of course the UK relationship with the EU is central, but there needs to be an acknowledgement that the devolved nations are also impacted and should be involved in discussions regularly. As we have seen, their lack of involvement in the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in confusion over the messages, whether it is “Stay at Home” or “Stay Alert”, and, even more importantly, around the practical measures being implemented in all the four countries.

As the UK takes the lead on UK-EU relations, will the Minister today spell out exactly how, in practical terms, the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Governments will be involved? A continuation of the sporadic arm’s-length involvement will result in confusion, delay and bitterness. If the Minister agrees with me, as I think he does, that we favour the continuation of our United Kingdom, he and this Government are certainly going the wrong way about it.