Policy paper

Interministerial Standing Committee Communiqué: 19 October 2023

Updated 13 November 2023

The Interministerial Standing Committee met for the fifth time on 19 October 2023 via video conference. The meeting was chaired by the Deputy First Minister of Scotland and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Shona Robison MSP.

The other attending ministers were:

From the UK Government: Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Minister for Intergovernmental Relations, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP; Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Lord Caine; Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Wales, Dr James Davies MP; Minister of State for Development and Africa, the Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, David Rutley MP.

From the Welsh Government: Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution, Mick Antoniw MS.

From the Scottish Government: Minister for Public Health and Women’s Health, Jenni Minto MSP.

In the current absence of a First Minister and deputy First Minister of the Northern Ireland Executive, officials from the Northern Ireland Civil Service attended the meeting in an observational capacity.

The meeting was also attended by the Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Professor Sir Gregor Smith, and the Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Sir Frank Atherton.

UK Government senior officials also attended from the Parliamentary Business and Legislation Secretariat.

The Committee opened with an update on cost-of-living workstreams across the governments, noting the proposal to set up a bilateral interministerial group between the Department for Work and Pensions and the Welsh Government. The Committee noted the extensive joint working carried out through Inter-ministerial Groups and advocated for this to continue. 

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (“FCDO”) Ministers provided the committee with an update on the situation in Israel and Gaza.

The Committee and FCDO Ministers considered the next steps in relation to the International Development White Paper and signalled the importance of ensuring collaborative engagement between the governments on areas of shared interest.

The Committee agreed to consider how best to ensure international matters are appropriately considered in the IGR system, including through ministerial level engagement, and that the IMSC would return to this issue.

The Committee discussed the upcoming fourth Parliamentary session. They reflected on the legislative process and IMSC principles on engagement, as well as the application of the Sewel Convention.

The Chief Medical Officer for England provided a presentation on upcoming proposals for a smokefree generation. Ministers jointly agreed to continue to work together on this significant health initiative on a UK-wide basis.

The Committee noted 2 papers in relation to the Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat.

The UK Government noted the importance of proposals in relation to banning the possession and sale of XL Bully dogs across England and Wales, and that the Scottish Government was actively developing its own proposals.

The next IMSC will be chaired by the Welsh Government, in line with rotating chair arrangements.