First Minister joins calls to Westminster for ‘progress agenda’

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Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond has been joined by his counterparts in Wales and Northern Ireland in a strong call to the Westminster Government for the so-called ‘respect agenda’ to become a ‘progress agenda’.

Mr Salmond and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales, Peter Robinson, First Minister of Northern Ireland and his deputy Martin McGuinness in Edinburgh.

The three Governments jointly made what is in effect a ‘hurry up’ call to Prime Minister David Cameron ahead of a joint meeting due shortly.

They issued the following statement: “The Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly of Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly were established, and their responsibilities have been developed and extended, according to the views of the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on their own institutions of government.

“In elections on May 5, those peoples bestowed on us renewed mandates as the heads of their devolved governments to work on their behalf, trusting in these institutions to build better societies for all our people.

“When the current UK Government was elected last year, we welcomed the commitment of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to a respect agenda for relations with devolved governments. Following our re-election, we reaffirm our commitment to work with the UK Government on the basis of good communication, co-operation and mutual respect – the principles set out in the Memorandum of Understanding reached among the four governments 10 years ago.

“We believe it is now time for the agenda of respect to deliver an agenda for progress on the issues of the greatest concern to those who elected us including economic growth. We call on the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to work with us to make progress on financial, constitutional and policy reform across the United Kingdom.”

Today’s trilateral meeting was held in advance of the forthcoming Plenary Meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee (of the governments of the United Kingdom, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which will be chaired by the Prime Minister.

There is sure to be a long and detailed discussion on the agenda for that meeting as the three First Ministers are already talking with the Westminster Government about financial reforms including fair funding, corporation tax, income tax, excise duty, borrowing powers and arrangements for end of year financial flexibility.

The list of other powers and constitutional reforms they mentioned today included: reform of the House of Lords; proposals for a Bill of Rights Commission; proposals for further reform in Northern Ireland; the Scotland Bill and its consequences for the other devolved administrations’ policy reforms including Welfare Reform; energy policy including the promotion of renewable energy sources, electricity grid development and reform of the Crown estate; and broadcasting.