The way the UK and devolved governments work together needs a 'reset', according to a Westminster committee.

The House of Lords Common Frameworks Scrutiny Committee says relations have been "severely strained" since Brexit.

Its report ‘Common frameworks: building a co-operative Union’ maintains the reset must be based on “collaboration and consensus” between the governments.

Common frameworks is the term for the formal mechanism the UK and devolved governments have to mutually agree to ensure consistency in new regulations, and the UK's exit of the European Union has has ensured a vast number of new regulations have to be made in multiple areas, following the return of powers from the EU to the UK and its devolved governments.

The committee acknowledged that the controversial UK Internal Markets Act has significantly strained relations with the devolved administrations, particularly in Scotland and Wales, and pointed out that the Act “could severely compromise common frameworks unless the UK Government exempts them in an appropriate manner”.

Wales' first minister Mark Drakeford and Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon have both referred to the Internal Markets Act a “power grab”, due to a number of powers from the EU relating to devolved areas, being returned to the UK government, rather than the devolved governments.


The committee has gone as far as saying the Act could restrain the ability of devolved administrations to regulate effectively in devolved areas, unless the UK Government exempts them from it in an appropriate manner.

Its report says that common frameworks would acknowledge the interdependence of UK and devolved government policy, whilst also recognising the autonomy of each administration.

However, the report also identifies areas of concern, such as the lack of clarity between the frameworks and the Northern Ireland Protocol, and a lack of opportunities for parliamentary scrutiny.

Baroness Andrews, a Labour peer and chair of the committee, said: “Common frameworks are a crucial legacy of leaving the EU that has too often been overlooked. They create the processes necessary for day-to-day cooperation across the UK, in areas such as food safety, farming and the environment. 

“During the committee’s inquiry, we found widespread support for common frameworks across sectors and in every part of the UK.

“While the relationships between the UK Government and devolved administrations are acknowledged to be severely strained, we believe that the collaborative approach of common frameworks should be used as a model to reset UK intergovernmental relations and build a cooperative Union.” 

Mark Drakeford has previously called for more cooperation between the UK government and devolved governments, saying there is “no institutional architecture to make the United Kingdom work. It’s all ad hoc, random and made up as we go along”.

Simon Hart, the Welsh Secretary, recently suggesting that the union flag should be flown on every government building in the UK, every day, as a way of promoting pride in the union. Shortly after Mr Hart's comments, the idea was mandated by UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.