The Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) has today published a report which calls for ‘wholesale change’ in Britain’s political culture with far fewer ministers. The Committee accuses Ministers of short-termism, placing too much emphasis on responding to short-term political and media pressures – and too many new policies, which reduce the government’s ability to follow a clear and consistent direction.
The report recommends:
* Encouraging a tighter, clearer focus in government by reducing the number of ministers and giving greater clarity about their roles and responsibilities to ensure more accountability.
* Decentralising power wherever possible to frontline public service workers and ordinary citizens.
* Greater focus on achieving good standards of basic administration instead of reacting to short-term pressure with piecemeal initiatives or legislation.
* Establishing an independent body with the powers to assess and promote effective performance in government.
I agree with the PASC . When I was Shadow Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs I wrote a paper called “20 : 20 : 20” which set out my ideas for a Smaller Government Bill that could be passed in the first year of a Conservative Government. The purpose of the Bill was to reduce the number of MPs, government ministers and the number of special advisers by 20 per cent each.
The number of ministers, Parliamentary private secretaries(Ministers’ bag carrying MPs) and the number of special advisers has rocketed under Labour. I have long argued that we need to reduce the size of Parliament and of Government too.Not only would a reduction in Ministers improve accountability but it would also generate a welcome saving (approximately £1 million) in ministerial salaries. So, well done PASC.