THE UK and Scottish Governments must work together to “learn the lessons” of the pandemic – which has revealed the “weaknesses built into” our political systems, Scottish MPs say.

The Scottish Affairs Committee (SAC) says a lack of “regular, timetabled meetings” between ministers in Edinburgh and London may be contributing to “mistrust” between the administrations.

And the MPs said it was “not clear” that the Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland “has identified a useful role for itself during the pandemic”.

The claim comes in a report on coronavirus in Scotland published by the committee today.

It states: “The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the weaknesses built into the UK systems of governance.

“Covid-19 does not recognise national boundaries – all governments of the UK must work together to minimise the impacts of the virus until an effective vaccine is found.

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“It is imperative that the UK and Scottish Governments work together to learn the lessons from the pandemic. These lessons need to be learned and implemented swiftly to ensure that the response to the continued pandemic is as effective as it could be.”

More than 4300 deaths in Scotland have now been linked to coronavirus, with almost half taking place in care homes.

The committee heard the virus could result in more than £800 million of Scottish food export sales being lost this year, with major sectors of the economy “left in a state of shock”.

It found that, despite earlier pandemic planning operations by the UK and Scottish governments, these assumed a flu pandemic would be treated by a vaccine or medication, which has not happened with coronavirus, and says lessons learned from the UK’s Exercise Cygnus on inter-governmental working and inviting devolved administrations to smaller meetings should be “revisited”.

Meanwhile, it wants part of any UK-wide public inquiry into the virus to focus specifically on Scotland and look at areas of devolved competence and inter-governmental working.

On public spending and tax relief, it says measures taken by both Westminster and Holyrood should be reviewed by Easter “to ensure they provided value for money, were targeted appropriately, and to see what lessons could be learned”.

Chairman Pete Wishart of the SNP said: “Coronavirus has taken a devastating toll on Scotland’s economy and health. Thousands in Scotland have had their lives significantly impacted by the pandemic and it has taken a huge toll on a number of key sectors in Scotland.”

The Perth and North Perthshire MP went on: “We need to use the lessons of the present pandemic to ensure that we are better prepared for the next.”

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Scottish Secretary Alister Jack commented: “The UK Government is doing everything possible to keep people safe and protect the Scottish economy from the shock of the pandemic.

“We will continue to support jobs and businesses in Scotland through the difficult months ahead. We have expanded our Job Support Scheme, extended our scheme for self-employed people and provided additional support for business.

Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said that she would be writing to the Home Secretary as a matter of urgency, raising concerns about the Migration Advisory Committee’s recent recommendations.

She added that the Scottish Government will continue to listen to businesses and tailor support accordingly.