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04 March 2019
On the 6 March 2019 there will be a Plenary Debate on the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee report: Inter-Institutional relations agreement between the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government.
The Motion proposes that the National Assembly for Wales notes the report of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee entitled Inter-Institutional relations agreement between the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government.
The Agreement was laid on Thursday 31 January.
How did the Agreement come about?
In February 2018 the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee (“the Committee”) published its report on UK governance post-Brexit. Recommendation 9 of that report stated:
We recommend that the Welsh Government enters into an intergovernmental relations agreement with this Committee to support the scrutiny of Welsh Government activity in this area.
During the Plenary debate on the report on 28 February 2018, the Counsel General, Jeremy Miles AM said the Welsh Government was happy to discuss with the Committee the content of an agreement on inter-governmental relations.
I can confirm that the Welsh Government is happy to discuss with the committee the content of an agreement on inter-governmental relations. In doing that, we’ll want to consider carefully the agreement between the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government to which the committee refers in the report.
On 30 April 2018, the then Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Mark Drakeford AM indicated the Welsh Government’s willingness to work with the Committee in developing the arrangements that would be needed on the part of the legislature to oversee the actions that will flow from the Intergovernmental Agreement on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill and the Establishment of Common Frameworks.
Following an exchange of correspondence between the Chair of the Committee, Mick Antoniw AM and Mark Drakeford it was agreed that this work should be taken forward formally.
On 7 January 2019, the Committee formally agreed the final version of the agreement, which is now laid before the Assembly.
Why is the Agreement needed?
The Written Agreement represents the agreed position of the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government on the information that the Welsh Government will, provide to the National Assembly regarding its own participation in formal, ministerial level inter-governmental meetings, concordats, agreements and memorandums of understanding.
In reaching the Agreement, the Welsh Government recognises the National Assembly’s primary purpose of scrutinising the activity of the Welsh Government within formal inter-governmental structures. The National Assembly also recognises and respects the need for confidential inter-governmental discussion between the administrations within the United Kingdom, for example, in situations where negotiations on particular issues are taking place.
The Agreement recognises the increased complexity of the devolution settlement and the implications this has for appropriate discussions between the Welsh and UK Governments. Therefore, it further recognises that the interdependence between devolved and reserved competences will be managed mainly in inter-governmental relations. This Agreement seeks to ensure that the principles of the Welsh Government’s accountability to the National Assembly for Wales and transparency regarding these relationships are built into the revised inter-governmental mechanisms.
The Agreement establishes three principles which will govern the relationship between the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government with regard to inter-governmental relations. These are:
- Respect for, and recognition of, the part confidential discussions play between governments, particularly when developing policy.
Scope of the Agreement
The Welsh Government agrees to provide advance written notice to the CLA and any Assembly Committee normally at least one month prior to scheduled relevant meetings. This will enable the Committees to express a view on the topic and, if appropriate, to invite the Minister responsible to attend a committee meeting in advance of the intergovernmental meeting. Advance written notice will include agenda items and a broad outline of key issues to be discussed, with recognition that agenda items, from time to time, may be marked as “private” in recognition of the need for confidentiality.
After each inter-governmental ministerial meeting within the scope of this Agreement, the Welsh Government will provide the Committee and any other relevant committee of the National Assembly with a written summary of the issues discussed at the meeting. Such a summary will include any joint statement released after the meeting, information pertaining to who attended the meeting, when the meeting took place, and where appropriate, subject to the need to respect confidentiality, an indication of key issues and of the content of discussions and an outline of the positions advanced by the Welsh Government.
The Welsh Government also agrees to provide to the CLA Committee and any other relevant committee of the National Assembly the text of any multilateral or bilateral intergovernmental agreements, memorandums of understanding or other resolutions within the scope of this Agreement.
The Welsh Government also agrees to maintain a record of all relevant formal intergovernmental agreements, concordats, resolutions and memorandums that the Welsh Government has entered into and to make these accessible on the Welsh Government’s website.
The Welsh Government will prepare an Annual Report on intergovernmental relations which will be laid before the Assembly and submitted to the Committee. This report will summarise the key outputs from activity that is subject to the provisions of this agreement, including any reports issued by relevant inter-governmental forums.
The Committee is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the agreement
Article by Alys Thomas, Senedd Research, National Assembly for Wales