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Government Running Costs

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 7:39 pm on 18th January 2000.

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Photo of Dr Mo Mowlam Dr Mo Mowlam Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Cabinet Office 7:39 pm, 18th January 2000

The Prime Minister made no secret of the fact that he wanted special advisers in the Government to help drive the Government's policies forward. I make no apology for the fact that we are governing in a different way from the previous Administration. Given the mess that they got into, I am sure that most people welcome the change.

In answer to the question from the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Tyrie), the overall costs have remained broadly in line with what the Prime Minister promised. We have made no secret of the numbers and cost of special advisers or of their work. We said that the number and funding of special advisers would be published—something that no previous Government had done. We have done all that.

The fact that we have special advisers guarantees—contrary to what the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire argued—the impartiality of the civil service. Who writes my party conference speeches with me? Do I ask a civil servant? No—I ask a special adviser. That is what they are there for. They protect the civil service, rather than making it political.

Let me reinforce that point by quoting Jonathan Baume of the Association of First Division Civil Servants. He said: A good special adviser is well worth having in any Department—it is also fair to say that this Government have used its special advisers in a much more upfront way. A good special adviser is an asset to a Department, both to the Minister and to the civil service.