UCL News


UCL in the News: Prime Minister must 'devise a way' to handle SNP clashes

8 May 2007

Gordon Brown will have to devise new ways of handling disputes with Holyrood if the new administration is to be controlled by the Scottish National Party, according to constitutional experts.

Academics have recommended the likely next Prime Minister starts to build formal ways for ministers from the devolved administrations to work with Downing Street and other Whitehall departments. …

The UCL Constitution Unit has proposed regular summits between the UK Prime Minister and heads of devolved administrations.

By meeting regularly, it is argued this could help avert problems and build a stable relationship.

Akash Paun, the academic leading the unit's devolution research programme, said there should also be ways for MPs to meet MSPs, and members of the Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Assembly, so they can work their way through policy issues that affect the whole of the UK.

He argued that the means of resolving differences or problems affecting London, Edinburgh and Cardiff over the past eight years is by trying to resolve them at the lowest possible level of the civil service, or through informal ministerial or Labour Party channels. …

He cited potential clashes over European fisheries negotiations, at which a Nationalist minister could be present, council tax abolition and the question of what happens to £381m per year of council tax benefit, clashes over nuclear power plants or deployment of nuclear weapons.

"The British government has to take a more strategic approach and accept things are going to get more politicised, and should not just wait for trouble to arise but think strategically." …

Douglas Fraser, 'The Herald'