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Secretary of State role should be axed: report

By Sam Lister

The role of Northern Ireland Secretary should be scrapped in favour of a department for devolved nations at Westminster instead, a powerful committee has recommended.

Talk of axing Cabinet positions for the province, Wales and Scotland has been shied away from on a number of occasions, MPs said.

But transferring justice powers to Stormont and last week's referendum handing more power to Cardiff makes retaining Secretaries of State in the Cabinet more difficult to defend, they said.

The Smaller Government: What Do Ministers Do? report, published by the select committee on

public administration, found a “reluctance to let go of mother” but the time had come to do so.

Merging the three Whitehall departments would be straightforward, the MPs insist, as they are relatively small. It recommends the new devolved office could have just two ministers supporting the Secretary of State.

The report states: “This change would save two Cabinet posts and one junior minister. It would also enable devolution issues to be considered in the round, rather than treating it as three separate bilateral relationships.”

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