Page last updated at 13:19 GMT, Wednesday, 12 May 2010 14:19 UK

Salmond letter to new PM Cameron

Britain's new prime minister, David Cameron, is preparing to visit Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond to discuss how the Scottish and UK governments can go forward in the future, with economic recovery top of the agenda.

In a letter to Mr Cameron, Mr Salmond said he wanted the governments to progress on the basis of "mutual respect", although the SNP leader has previously warned the Tories were planning big spending cuts for Scotland.

Here is the full text of the letter:

I am writing following our conversation earlier today.

First let me congratulate you and Nick Clegg on your appointments as prime minister and deputy prime minister. I look forward to welcoming you to St Andrew's House.

Ahead of your visit to Scotland next week and the meeting of the joint ministerial committee next month, I want to set out some of the issues the Scottish government considers important in discussions with the UK government.

The Scottish government looks forward to working constructively with the incoming UK government and the other devolved administrations. We would expect our working relationship to be based on widely accepted principles of mutual respect and parity of esteem.

The UK government should commit itself to the continued development of the formal structures of inter-governmental relationships.

The joint ministerial committee has been successfully revived since 2007, meeting in domestic, European and plenary format, and is also supported by the finance ministers' quadrilaterals.

The memorandum of understanding governing inter-governmental relations was recently revised, and a dispute avoidance and resolution protocol agreed. The UK government should be committed not just to the letter and spirit of these procedures, but to their successful operation in practice.

The application of funding arrangements is particularly important to all of the devolved administrations.

The current system is based on clear principles, but their application has not always been satisfactory in practice, for example over the regeneration spending associated with the Olympics.

The new dispute avoidance and resolution protocol should offer some improvement. However, further proposals to enhance the transparency and consistency of the Barnett formula have been made by a variety of commissions, and we would expect these to be considered by the joint ministerial committee.

There is also general agreement that the financial responsibility of the Scottish Parliament should be strengthened, but not on the specific changes.

We would expect to work closely with the UK government to develop and agree a system that increases accountability and promotes Scotland's economic interests.

A specific area for inter-governmental working is involvement of the Scottish government in European Union discussions.

Again, the principles of Scottish participation in UK policy formulation and in UK delegations to the European Union are well established, but practice is inconsistent.

The UK government should consistently engage the Scottish government at an early stage of policy formulation, and Scottish ministers should be included in UK delegations, in line with the intent but not the practice of the current system.

Further development of the devolution settlement is an ambition common to all parties represented in the Scottish Parliament.

To signal its respect for that consensus, the UK government should undertake to introduce, as a matter of urgency, measures to implement those specific recommendations of the Calman Commission that have been supported by all parties.

Our key focus now is on protecting the recovery, including pressing for a continued economic stimulus package in the UK.

In my discussions with the Conservative and Liberal Democrat shadow chancellors before the election, I secured commitments from both that there would be no further reductions in the 2010-11 Scottish budget beyond those that have already been announced.

We therefore expect the UK government to honour the plans in place for Scotland's public services this year. There are other specific areas of the Scottish budget, for example guaranteed access to end-year flexibility and access to a jobs fund, which are of importance.

The Scottish government is also clear that an incoming UK government should undertake that no change would be made to the current system of financing devolved government without consultation and agreement with the devolved administrations.

In the discussions referred to above with the shadow chancellors, one was able to give this assurance. One was not. In the interests of a constructive relationship between our governments, I hope it will be possible for you to confirm this assurance.

As I said, I am copying this letter to the deputy prime minister, and also to the first ministers and deputy first ministers of Wales and Northern Ireland.




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