BORIS Johnson’s Cabinet has been rebuked by a former Scottish first minister over its attitude towards the UK’s devolved governments.

Tory minister Lord Greenhalgh denied Downing Street was guilty of acting with “high-handed arrogance” during a devolution debate in the House of Lords.

It came after Jack McConnell urged ministers to change the way they speak about the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments.

The National:

He told the chamber: “I hope we can all agree that good governmental relations are based on mutual respect, strong mutual respect.

“So will the government please stop referring to the devolved governments as devolved administrations and call them governments, which they clearly are.”

Greenhalgh – a minister in Michael Gove’s Levelling Up department, which is responsible for issues relating to the Union – agreed to the request.

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“There’s no sign of disrespect when we call the Government a devolved administration but I’m happy to call them devolved governments in future if that is seen as more appropriate,” he said.

Also speaking in the House of Lords, Baroness Wilcox accused the UK Government of “undermining” devolution by failing to draw up levelling up plans in consultation with devolved governments.

She noted a report by the Common Frameworks Committee stating relations between the UK and devolved government were in a “poor state”, adding that “UK intergovernmental relations need to be reset”.

She asked Lord Greenhalgh: “Does the minister accept that it undermines the devolution settlements when this government brings forward initiatives like levelling up and community renewal funds that have been drawn up without any consultation with the Welsh government, are administered by UK Government departments that have not operated in Wales for over 20 years and will the new ministerial post address these problematic issues?”

Greenhalgh said the UK Government has made clear it intends to work with devolved nations.

He added that devolved administrations will be part of government funds.

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Meanwhile, Lord Hain accused the Tory government of “high-handed arrogance” over the Internal Market Act and shared prosperity fund (SPF).

He asked Greenhalgh: "Does the noble Lord agree there will only be a strong UK Union if each of our constituent nations, regions, and governments have a relationship of equals which regrettably has not been the case under this government with its high-handed arrogance over the Internal Market Act and the shared prosperity fund being just two examples.

"Will he guarantee in joint ministerial committees, parity of esteem in shared chairing and agenda-setting, an impartial secretariat and improved dispute, avoidance and resolution?"

Greenhalgh said he “did not recognise that characterization”, adding that there is "huge esteem for devolved governments".