Ministry of Defence vows to consider implications of decisions on devolved policies after Scottish intervention

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) will aim to improve its understanding of how its work impacts areas of devolution following a Scottish affairs committee intervention.

The cross-party committee argued that while defence is a wholly reserved matter for the UK Government, decisions on military bases can have significant implications for devolved issues, such as health, transport and education.

MPs urged the UK Government to adapt the approach it takes on basing decisions in England, recognising different regulatory frameworks in Scotland and the role of the Scottish Government in devolved policy areas.

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The UK Government’s response to the committee’s Defence in Scotland report said basing-related engagement takes place with affected local authorities and health boards.

Members of 4th Battalion The Rifles marching, as the Ministry of Defence will aim to improve its understanding of how its work impacts areas of devolution following a Scottish Affairs Committee intervention. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
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But it said: “However, we do recognise the role of the Scottish Government in devolved policy areas, and we shall always endeavour where appropriate to ensure that there is constructive engagement with the Scottish Government.

“MoD will seek to prioritise the development of improved knowledge and understand across defence where MoD business both impacts, and is impacted by, areas of devolved competence, building on extant Cabinet Office devolution training.”

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The commitment has been welcomed by the committee.

SNP MP Pete Wishart, chair of the committee, said: “The UK Government has engaged positively with a number of our committee’s recommendations.

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“For too long, the UK Government has overlooked the important role that the Scottish Government has in terms of public services, and how military basing decisions taken in Whitehall can impact those areas – healthcare, transport, education – significantly.

“It is therefore welcome news that the MoD will seek to improve its understanding for future military basing decisions.”

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The MoD has also committed to engaging with the General Teaching Council for Scotland about the transfer of teaching qualification for military spouses and partners.

This commitment has been made in a bid to transition teaching careers between England and Scotland more easily.

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