Why I want to increase scrutiny of the Scottish Government - Rishi Sunak

I passionately believe the United Kingdom has a bright future. But it is not guaranteed.

Only with common purpose and endeavour; working together, as one country we can defeat the collective challenges that face us all. We have done it before, we will do so again.

On the economy, we need to tackle inflation. It has to be our number one priority because failure to do so will make people across the UK poorer. Of course I want to cut tax – but it must be done in a responsible and affordable way. I will not saddle our children and grandchildren with debts that we don’t want to pay.

I know that across Scotland people are worried about how they will pay their energy bills this winter. I want to offer readers assurance and peace of mind – any government that I lead will provide direct support targeted at those who need it most.

Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

In the wake of the pandemic, there are a variety of challenges threatening the health of our public services. Of course, the nature of devolution means that many of those challenges – things like the backlogs affecting the NHS – are the responsibility of the Scottish Government and the SNP.

For too long the SNP has been able to obscure its failures by picking and choosing the data it publishes. I would change that, ensuring the Scottish Government’s record could be held to account. Scottish civil servants will also face greater scrutiny, with the head of the Scottish civil service required to attend the UK Parliament’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee once a year, free from political pressure of the SNP.

The plans I am announcing will see the Scottish Government properly scrutinised by the UK Parliament, and required to publish consistent data on the delivery of public services so performance and value for money can be assessed against other parts of the UK. I will also ensure that UK ministers attend committees of the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish people deserve better. They should know where their money is being spent and where Nicola Sturgeon is failing them – and the UK Government should be able to hold the Scottish Government accountable for things like the backlog, or the quality of education provision in Scotland.

More widely, I want to see the whole Civil Service reformed. I have seen parts of the British Civil Service at its best, delivering things like Covid support schemes in record time. But, parts of it could be sharper and leaner.

That is why I intend to recruit and retain the brightest and the best. I will go further and ensure that ministers bring in more external expertise and I will also strengthen civil servants’ experience beyond Whitehall.

Senior civil servants will have to spend at least a year of their career outside Whitehall or in industry before further promotion. I want to make sure that the UK Government has on-the-ground experience of the unique opportunities and challenges that Scotland faces. This will vastly strengthen the UK Government and make sure that it is delivering the very best service for Scotland.

I want to be a prime Minister that delivers for the whole Union, and that starts with making sure that the Scottish Government is held to account. Far from ignoring Nicola Sturgeon, I will stand up to her and make sure that the UK Government is delivering for the Scottish people and strengthening our United Kingdom.


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