Inter-Parliamentary Relations: Missing Links

Academics, politicians, and officials working the parliaments have long agreed that inter-parliamentary relations in the UK is an area in need of reform. The constitutional implications of the UK’s EU exit has given this a new urgency, particularly around scrutiny of inter-governmental decision making in the devolved UK.

Missing Links  concludes that:

  • Inter-parliamentary structures are often too informal and ad hoc,
  • Asymmetric devolution isn’t working for any of the four nations,
  • This has led to a gap in democratic scrutiny. 

The report proposes a five-point plan to address the missing links in democratic accountability.

  1. Experiment, take risks, and learn by doing
    The UK’s legislatures need to experiment with flexible models of inter-parliamentary working. A working group with members from each parliament should be formed to establish consensus on a way forward.
  2. Formalise the role of parliaments in scrutinising intergovernmental relations
    Written agreements should be developed between the UK Parliament, UK Government, devolved legislatures, and the devolved governments on a framework for inter-parliamentary oversight. Devolved legislatures should have access to information prior to intergovernmental meetings and receive reports of the proceedings and their outcomes.
  3. Strengthen the role of devolved parliaments in legislative consent
    The Legislative Consent Motion process needs to be redesigned to engage the elected members of the legislatures. The passing of a law by Westminster after consent has been withheld should require formal processes in the UK Parliament and potentially formal inter-parliamentary dialogue.
  4. Learn from existing best practice
    The semi-formal inter-parliamentary Brexit Forum should be used as a starting point for future models of best practice. Further research should be commissioned to review inter-parliamentary relations.
  5. Improve public information about inter-parliamentary relations, and decision making
    Better public information and education on the issue of inter-parliamentary scrutiny will be needed. Improved inter-parliamentary working should happen in a way which also improves people’s understanding of the new processes.

You can read the full report here: Missing Links: Past, present and future inter-parliamentary relations in the devolved UK

You can watch the video recording of the ‘Inter-Parliamentary Relations: Missing Links’ event here

You can listen to the podcast of the ‘Inter-Parliamentary Relations: Missing Links’ event here


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