David Cameron will tell the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that it is time to concentrate on best using the powers they have, rather than debating what more could be devolved.
The Prime Minister hopes to focus a session of the Joint Ministerial Committee on UK-wide issues – including a briefing from security intelligence services about the threat posed by Islamic State-inspired terrorism.
“It is now time we reached a point where the big debate is about how the powers are used, not about what they should be,” he said ahead of the annual meeting at Downing Street.
The gathering will be the first meeting between the Prime Minister and Nicola Sturgeon since she became First Minister and will be followed by talks between the two.
It will also put Mr Cameron across the table from Northern Ireland’s First and Deputy First Ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness for the first time since his intervention in Belfast last week failed to secure any breakthrough in talks aimed at resolving a series of major disputes.
It is the first time the leaders have come together since Scotland vetoed independence and Edinburgh, legislation was passed extending Cardiff’s tax and borrowing powers and Belfast was told progress in talks was the key to being handed control of corporation tax. Ms Sturgeon will discuss the Smith Commission agreement, including the proposal that the Scottish Parliament be given powers over its own elections, which could pave the way for 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in Holyrood elections.
And The Scotsman understands that Mr Cameron will tell the First Minister he will try and make that possible. Last night a Downing Street source said: “The Prime Minister will tell the First Minister that he will do everything he can to get votes for 16 and 17-year-olds in place for 2016.”
“We have shown that this government is determined to address the complex constitutional issues with settlements that are fair to all and built to last,” Mr Cameron said. “We are keeping our promises, delivering on our commitments and making the United Kingdom all the stronger for it.
“Now is a chance to move forward, forging even stronger ties between our governments and our parliaments.”