Ministerial Code

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:31 pm on 15th November 2005.

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Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Shadow Secretary of State (Justice), Shadow Secretary of State 9:31 pm, 15th November 2005

The Minister may say that, but to me he sounded slightly pompous when he said, "Oh well, we can have the independent adviser and we will make an announcement shortly." Surely the public would react to that attitude by saying, "My goodness, can't they just say they'll do it?" The Minister also showed a certain complacency when he appeared to suggest that everything that the Government do is above board and that there was never a problem.

I began to think about a civil service Bill, on which I initiated a debate last year. Since 1997, the Government have been promising a civil service Bill, and to be fair to the hon. Member for Cannock Chase, he drafted one. I tried to debate such a Bill in the House, and when I managed to do so the Government said that they would be doing something in due course. Yet here we are today—1997 is a long time ago—and we still do not have a civil service Act on the statute book. The question of whether we are to have independent mechanisms to make the ministerial code work seems to be going the wrong way.