Tuesday was a busy day. As well as the Commons Scotland bill debate and Carwyn Jones’s announcement of the Welsh Government’s desired funding settlement, there was a summit meeting of the British Irish Council (or ‘Council of the Isles’) in London. As at previous meetings since the Coalition took office, Nick Clegg took the lead in representing the UK, with first and chief ministers from the devolved governments and Crown dependencies, and the Irish Taoiseach. The communique is here (the old BIC website seems to have vanished, and most of its contents have migrated to that of the States of Jersey), or on the Cabinet Office site here.
The most interesting feature of the meeting appears to have been confirmation that a proper standing secretariat for BIC is to be set up, in Edinburgh. The Scottish Government’s news release about that is here. This was first agreed a year ago, and should be up and running from the start of 2012. Otherwise, there are reports of substantive discussions about electricity grids and economic growth.
BIC has always struggled to find a real role, given the widely varying interests and constitutional status of the various government involved, although it’s said to be valuable as a forum for informal links and discussions. That appears to be as much the case now as ever.