Abolish the NIO – redux…

IT’S Liberal Democrat party conference time, and Northern Ireland spokesman Alistair Carmichael has reiterated the party’s call for the Northern Ireland Office to be abolished. In fact, he wants the Scottish and Welsh offices done away with too, and the three amalgamated. Carmichael said: “Labour has never really known where it is heading on the constitution. We now have a parliament in Scotland and assemblies in Wales, London and Northern Ireland. There is absolutely no appetite to undo these changes in any of these areas. The asymmetric appearance of our post-devolution constitution, however, has generated resentment in parts of England. Labour does not know how to respond. The Liberal Democrats believe the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland offices should be abolished. A new department for the regions and nations would ensure that communications is maintained between the devolved administrations and Westminster.” To back his argument, Carmichael suggested that the Scotland Office was becoming less relevant, after figures showed it received just 39 letters a year from MPs and peers, put out an average of only one press release a week yet managed to spend 32 per cent more on hospitality than in the previous year. If anyone remembers, a similar Freedom of Information request on the NIO’s activities might be worth pursuing next May…