Working with the UK Covid-19 Inquiry
How does the Scottish COVID-19 Inquiry fit with the UK Covid-19 Inquiry?
If you live in Scotland, you may be affected by the investigations of both the Scottish COVID-19 Inquiry and the UK Covid-19 Inquiry. The website for the UK Covid-19 Inquiry can be found here.
People living in Scotland are governed by laws made under powers devolved to the Scottish Government and Parliament, and laws made under powers reserved to the UK Government and Parliament. A list of reserved matters is set out in Schedule 5 of the Scotland Act 1998. They include, for example, social security schemes such as universal credit, immigration and asylum, product safety, health and safety at work, and employment rights and duties.
The response to the pandemic involved both Scottish and UK authorities. The combination of the Scottish and UK Covid-19 Inquiries aims to ensure that both the devolved Scottish response and the UK response to the pandemic are investigated.
Both inquiries are bound by their respective Terms of Reference and there will be occasions where the UK Covid-19 Inquiry will consider the same issues as the Scottish COVID-19 Inquiry, including where those matters are devolved.
The Scottish COVID-19 Inquiry will investigate areas devolved to Scotland. The specific matters that it will investigate are set out in its Terms of Reference. They relate broadly to the devolved areas of education, health, welfare assistance and financial support.
The UK Covid-19 Inquiry’s Terms of Reference require it to “examine, consider and report on preparations and the response to the pandemic in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland”. In so doing, it will “consider reserved and devolved matters across the United Kingdom, as necessary, but will seek to minimise duplication of investigation, evidence gathering and reporting with any other public inquiry established by the devolved governments. To achieve this, the Inquiry will set out publicly how it intends to minimise duplication, and will liaise with any such inquiry before it investigates any matter which is also within that inquiry’s scope”.
The UK Covid-19 Inquiry’s first and second modules have already been launched and will investigate decisions made by Westminster and the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Scottish COVID-19 Inquiry will also investigate the Scottish Government’s preparations and response to the pandemic as part of its investigations.
Both Inquiries are obliged to take steps to minimise any duplication of evidence gathering, investigation and reporting, and are liaising in this regard. The Inquiries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in February 2023, which formalises how the two Inquiries will work together. The MoU can be read below.
The Scottish COVID-19 Inquiry recognises the importance of it being clear to people which Inquiry is responsible for looking at particular issues. If your issue relates to Scotland and falls within the Scottish Inquiry’s Terms of Reference, it will be within the remit of the Scottish COVID-19 Inquiry.