Monday, April 24, 2006

Brown-nosing It

In the context of an earlier RR post, this report from today’s Herald is especially interesting. It has always been likely that the financing arrangements between UK Government and the devolved administrations would become one of the weakest points of the devolution settlement. Today’s report of what some might regard as Treasury interference simply adds more fuel to that particular fire. But fair to say that financing the devolved administrations is only one issue that needs to be tackled. Another one is the status of the Civil Service in the devolved administrations. Notwithstanding devolution, the civil servants that work in the Scottish Executive and the Welsh Assembly Government (though not the Northern Ireland Assembly) remain part of the UK Civil Service. Up here in Edinburgh, it seems to me this inevitably must lead to some degree of conflict of interest in the policy advice they give Scottish Ministers where this might result in a policy outcome north of the border which runs counter to UK policy preferences. And while potential conflicts of this sort may be mediated politically as long as the political map of the UK and the devolved administrations remains broadly ‘red’, this is likely to become more problematic once the electorate throw up a different political configuration across the Queen-dom. Interesting times ahead…

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