The relationship between the Scottish and UK governments has “broken down” and urgent constitutional reform is required to restore trust, an influential Commons committee has said.
The Scottish Affairs Committee, after an inquiry examining the relationship between the two governments, has called for “fundamental changes” to strengthen intergovernmental relations.
One key reform the committee call for in their report is a review of the Scotland Office and the position of Scottish Secretary, a post currently held by David Mundell.
The MPs recommend that territorial offices of state should be replaced with a single department responsible for managing constitutional affairs and relations.
SNP MP Pete Wishart, who chairs the committee, said: “It’s been 20 years since devolution and the political landscape of the UK is now totally unrecognisable, the Scottish independence referendum, Brexit and the diverging political views of the UK’s four governments have all placed strain on a delicate devolution system.
“The relationship between the UK and Scottish governments has broken down and there is a palpable lack of trust between the two governments.
“My committee’s inquiry has found that although the relationship is far from ideal, it is not beyond repair.
“We are calling on the Scottish and UK governments to make fundamental changes in their approach to devolution to restore trust.”
A UK Government spokesman, responding to the report, said: “The role of the secretary of state for Scotland is to champion Scottish interests at the heart of government and to strengthen Scotland’s place in the UK. With the Scottish Government proposing an unwanted and divisive second independence referendum next year, that role is more important than ever.
“Scotland’s two governments enjoy a close working relationship, as the secretary of state’s evidence to the committee showed. We are pleased the committee acknowledged our joint efforts to develop common frameworks in areas such as agriculture when we leave the EU, which will strengthen the UK’s internal market. It is simply untrue to say that relations between the two governments have broken down.”
A source close to Mr Mundell pointed out that disagreements between the two governments did not necessarily mean the system was broken, just that there was disagreements.
They added: “The Scotland Office does a highly effective job strengthening the Union so it’s no surprise the SNP want to see it abolished.”