A second covid wave in England may bring the unfinished devolution agenda to a head

By stewartb:

Published on 22 May in the British Medical Journal there was an editorial calling for a “transparent rapid review of where we are and what needs to be done to prevent and prepare for a second wave”.

The editor of the BMJ, Fiona Godlee, on C4 News this evening (23 June) referred to this and another request for an enquiry that had been made recently via the BMJ. In the course of the interview she referred in terms, to the need to resolve issues with ‘devolution’ in advance of a possible second wave.

I was curious to find out what was being identified as the ‘devolution issue’. In the BMJ editorial I found this:

“Scrutiny required: The first is governance. The Brexit process had already exposed the UK’s constitutional weaknesses. The covid-19 response has reinforced those concerns. They include the unfinished devolution agenda: when the prime minister addressed the nation, he failed to point out that his messages applied only to England. Local government leaders, including the large metropolitan authorities, have been excluded from discussions. Experience in countries such as Canada or Germany may be relevant.”

We know well that the Prime Minister is far from being the only guilty part in this regard. The BBC is ‘institutionally’ guilty – failing on so many occasions and over such a very long period of time.

Interestingly the authors add: “…  it is not clear that parliament has been able to scrutinise the actions of ministers. There are examples elsewhere that might be emulated, such as the parliamentary committee with an opposition majority that is scrutinising the New Zealand government’s covid-19 response.”

Source: https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m2052

On the latter point on parliamentary scrutiny, the Scottish Parliament has a Covid-19 scrutiny committee. Its convener is a Tory; its vice-convenor is from Labour; there are three other opposition MSPs; and just three (a minority) from the governing party, the SNP.

Something else in Scotland to be emulated? Surely some mistake!

Source: https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/114994.aspx  

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