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Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:11 pm on 25th January 2018.

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Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Chair, Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee 12:11 pm, 25th January 2018

I welcome my hon. Friend back to the Front Bench in her new position at the Cabinet Office, to which she brings considerable experience, including of this issue. However, I have to express my disappointment at the Government’s response. Some minor amendments were accepted, but it regards the system as the highest example of regulation and openness when it simply does not deliver the public confidence that we want. I appreciate that this is a vexed issue and that we do not want to deter people from coming into the public service for fear of being treated unfairly on the way out, but the present arrangements are inadequate. The response even refused to put more explicitly into the ministerial code words such as

“You must…
take decisions in the public interest alone” and

“You must…
never allow yourself to be influenced in contracting, procurement, regulation or the provision of policy advice, by your career expectations or prospects if you leave the public service” and

“You must not…
take up any post outside the public service in businesses or [commercial] organisations operating in areas where you have been directly responsible”.

I do not understand why those things cannot be put explicitly in the ministerial code so that they are talked about and understood, which would begin to change the attitudes that unfortunately pervade many of the Ministers, special advisers and civil servants in Whitehall.