Mick Antoniw MS, Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution
I chaired and represented the Welsh Government at the third meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Standing Committee (IMSC) on 1 February.
A joint communique was published following the meeting and contains full details of other attendees. Among the items on the agenda were: the cost of living crisis, the Sewel Convention; the Retained EU Law Bill; the wider UK Parliament legislative programme; Common Frameworks; and the progress on establishing Inter-ministerial Groups (IMGs).
As referred to in the communique, the Committee has commissioned a Cost of Living working group of officials to coordinate work and to agree next steps and ministerial engagement.
Concerning the Sewel Convention, I again raised deep concern that since 2019 we have seen the Senedd’s refusal to consent to UK Legislation increasingly ignored by the UK Government. We discussed the importance of the Sewel convention and the need for strengthened inter-governmental working and transparency on UK Government Bills.
On the Retained EU Law Bill, I reiterated our concerns around the UK Government’s approach, including the concurrent powers currently contained in the Bill – which would allow UK Government to legislate in devolved areas without the consent of Welsh Ministers or the Senedd – and the sunset date.
I raised serious concerns over the suggestion that the UK Government might bring back the Bill of Rights, as well as concerns relating to the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill and the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill.
Ministers agreed the importance of reporting to both the IMSC and legislatures on the operation of Common Frameworks once they are fully implemented, and that officials should carry out an assessment, including on the impact of emerging issues on the programme.
Ministers noted the progress on establishing IMGs to date. The next IMSC is scheduled to be held in March and will be chaired by the UK Government, in line with rotating chair arrangements.