David Mundell Wants 'Reboot' Between Governments

19 January 2016, 07:28 | Updated: 19 January 2016, 07:35

The Scottish Secretary has called for a "reboot'' of the relationship between the UK and Scottish governments after May's Holyrood elections.

David Mundell urged for an end to the "petty politicking and sniping'' which he said defined much of the public face of inter-governmental working.

Developing a more productive and transparent relationship between the two governments was a key theme that emerged in the post-referendum commission on further devolution led by Lord Smith of Kelvin.

Mr Mundell said "respectful and collegiate'' working would become ever more important with the devolution of further powers through the Scotland Bill, and post-May would offer a "golden opportunity'' for a fresh start.

Speaking at a briefing to journalists in Edinburgh, he said: "My message is that we need to reboot the relationship between the UK Government and Westminster, and the Scottish Government and Holyrood.

"In the run-up to the Scottish elections I don't expect any big changes in this dynamic, that really would be naive. This is a very highly political period.

"But after May I do think there is a real window of opportunity as, EU referendum aside, we have a full four years until the next Westminster election.

"I want both governments to make a sincere effort to ensure that post-May we have a grown-up and respectful, collegiate inter-governmental relationship in Scotland which I believe the vast majority of people in Scotland, including those who voted Yes in the referendum, want to see.

"I'm committed to playing my part in that. I believe we have a golden opportunity after May in what I hope might be a less politically-fraught period to press ahead, press the reset button and start afresh.''

Mr Mundell cited examples of "extensive and collegiate'' inter-governmental work going on below the surface on issues such as the closure of the Forth Road Bridge and the response to the oil price crash.

The Scottish Secretary added: "All this goes to show that we can and do work well together, but why can't this be the norm for all our interactions?

"The problem is this positive work behind the scenes is not what gets the coverage. What does are the spats and fall-outs.''

Mr Mundell said that work was ongoing to agree a new memorandum of understanding between the UK and Scottish and Welsh governments and the Northern Ireland Executive.

He continued: "That work is vital but you can have as many joint ministerial committees as you like, what is vital is the spirit with which we approach it.

"The fact is Scotland is best-served when its two governments work together for the common good.

"That is what people want and have every right to expect. Not petty politicking and sniping, but grown-up and constructive collaboration.''

SNP MSP Christina McKelvie said: "I look forward to David Mundell matching his warm words with real action.

"Instead of waiting until after the election, Mr Mundell could start now by working with the Scottish Government to exempt Scotland from the impact of the Trade Union Bill, which is opposed across the parliament; to reinstate the funding for employability that has been slashed just as it is due to be devolved; and reversing the UK Government's position on the reintroduction of the post-study work visa which has cross-party backing in Scotland.

"We will always aim for constructive relations with the UK Government where they are in the interests of the people of Scotland, but while David Mundell continues to promise jam tomorrow from a Tory Government, the SNP Government will continue to deliver real action today to support our essential public services and to grow our economy.''