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Progetto di riforma delle istituzioni britanniche Appunti scolastici Premium

Materiale didattico per il corso di Politica comparata del prof. Marco Giuliani. Trattasi di un progetto di riforma dell'ordinamento istituzionale britannico presentato dal Ministro della Giustizia nel 2007, all'interno del quale si propone un rafforzamento dei poteri del Parlamento a scapito di quelli dell'esecutivo.

Esame di Politica comparata docente Prof. M. Giuliani

Anteprima

ESTRATTO DOCUMENTO

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The Governance of Britain Introduction

6. From 1997, the Labour Government began introducing the constitutional

changes required in a modern democracy. These included:

• creating a Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly, and making

devolution a practical reality;

• modernisation of the House of Lords, ending the right of the majority

of hereditary peers to be members of the House;

• establishing the independence of the Bank of England, allowing

interest rate decisions to be made free of active political involvement;

• embedding a modern Human Rights Act into United Kingdom law,

giving the domestic courts the ability to rule on human rights issues;

• introducing the Freedom of Information Act, increasing transparency

and the ability to hold Government to account;

• reforming the role of Lord Chancellor so that the holder of the office is

no longer head of the judiciary or Speaker of the House of Lords;

• legislating to create a new free-standing Supreme Court, separating

the highest appeal court from Parliament and removing the Law Lords

from the legislature;

• establishing an independent Judicial Appointments Commission to

select candidates for judicial office;

• establishing a new system of devolved government in London with the

creation of the Greater London Authority; and

• establishing the Northern Ireland Assembly, providing the opportunity

for a continued, stable settlement for the first time in generations.

7. The Government is proud of these achievements. But we must go further

if we are to meet the challenges which remain:

• power remains too centralised and too concentrated in government;

• it is not sufficiently clear what power government should and should

not have;

• some people have become cynical about, and increasingly disengaged

1 and

from, the political process;

• Britain needs to articulate better a shared understanding of what it

means to be British, and of what it means to live in the UK.

1 Surveys consistently display very low levels of trust in politicians. In 1983 18 per cent of people

trusted politicians to tell the truth. This fell to a low of just 15 per cent in 1997 before rising to

20 per cent in 2005. Source: Ipsos MORI, survey of c.2000 British adults

Opinion of Professions,

aged 15+. Available at http://www.ipsos-mori.com/polls/trends/truth.shtml

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The Governance of Britain Introduction

8. The time has come to build a consensus about the changes that we can

make together to help renew trust and confidence in our democratic

institutions, to make them fit for the modern world and to begin properly

to articulate and celebrate what it means to be British. Renewing the fabric

of our nation is not a one-off project or some meaningless side-show. The

aim of the proposals in this paper should be to create a renewed bond

between government and the people it serves, bringing people closer

to the decision-making process at both the local and national level. By

rebalancing some aspects of the way power is exercised, the Government

hopes to ensure that individual citizens feel more closely engaged with

those representing them; able to have their voice heard, active in their

communities and bound together by common ties.

9. The Government intends to initiate an inclusive national debate

through which the whole country can come together to develop a British

statement of values. This national debate will provide an opportunity

to begin exploring the wider issue of citizenship and the future of our

constitutional arrangements which underpin everything about how we

function as a nation.

10. The Government has these goals:

• to invigorate our democracy, with people proud to participate in

decision-making at every level;

• to clarify the role of government, both central and local;

• to rebalance power between Parliament and the Government, and give

Parliament more ability to hold the Government to account; and

• to work with the British people to achieve a stronger sense of what it

means to be British, and to launch an inclusive debate on the future of

the country’s constitution.

11. Only a confident UK will be able to adapt to the economic challenges

of globalisation. Only a country sure of its identity will be able to come

together to ensure our mutual security: common, inclusive values can help

us overcome the threat from extremism of all kinds. Only a nation certain

of its national purpose will be able to pull together to meet the common

challenges of global climate change. And only by coming together as a

diverse country and debating our common values, our citizenship and our

constitution can we begin to forge the sense of purpose and renew the

common bonds that will allow us to meet these challenges together. 11

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The Governance of Britain Introduction

Next steps

12. This document sets out a range of proposals that the Government believes

will meet its objectives. Some will be introduced through legislation in

the next session of Parliament. Some represent the start of a process of

consultation, and over the coming weeks and months the Government

will conduct various discussions in various ways to ensure that the

proposals contained here can be best effected.

13. Some of the ideas and measures proposed will apply to the whole of the

United Kingdom. But the devolution settlement means that some issues

are in the hands of the devolved legislatures of Scotland, Wales and

Northern Ireland. The Government’s proposals in those cases apply only in

England but it hopes that the devolved administrations will be equally

involved in the dialogue to come.

Setting the scene – the United Kingdom’s constitutional settlement

Box 1:

Although the bedrock of personal liberties in Britain is traditionally held

to be Magna Carta, the birth of the modern British constitution is often

considered to be the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The deposition of

James II of England and James VII of Scotland led to the beginnings of

a parliamentary democracy in which no Monarch could wield absolute

power. The Parliaments of England and Scotland enacted in quick

succession the legislation that still forms the basis of the relationship

between Monarchy and Parliament and between Parliament and people.

The English Declaration of Rights 1689 and the Scottish Claim of Right

Act 1689 set out the roles of Parliament and of the Crown, and also the

fundamental rights of the people – for example, to be subject to proper

justice, and free from military rule or excessive fines.

The intervention of Parliament in 1688 and then in 1700 to determine

the succession to the Crown was an indication of how far, by that time,

power had shifted from the Monarch to Parliament. The Treaty of Union

1706, enacted by the Parliaments of England and Scotland in 1707,

created Britain as a nation.

The settlement put into place at the beginning of the 18th century was

sufficiently flexible and adaptable to accommodate significant further

shifts in power and responsibility within the Government. The 18th century

was therefore a period of constitutional consolidation and evolutionary

development. Although it saw dramatic developments elsewhere, such

as the loss of the American colonies, and the wars against revolutionary

France, in Britain there was no further dramatic change. The Union with

Ireland Act in 1800 was the only decisive constitutional statute.

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The Governance of Britain Introduction

It was not until the 1830s that the system came under such strain that

formal legislative intervention was needed. As a result of the industrial

revolution, the pattern of the electoral franchise – the law governing

who can vote – had become untenable. Large centres of population had

no MPs, while some deserted villages returned two. The franchise was

extended by the Great Reform Act 1832, but the type of elector and the

type of person who was elected changed little. This was, therefore, only

the first step on a road of electoral reform which culminated in the

introduction of universal adult franchise nearly a century later, in 1928.

Just as power had passed from the Crown to Parliament, and from

Ministers selected by the King to Ministers endorsed by Parliament,

so power also gradually passed from the House of Lords to the House

of Commons. The extension of the franchise, the increasing scope of

government and the consequent need for public funding, gradually

consolidated the Commons’ position. When the House of Lords rejected

Lloyd George’s budget in 1909, they were already breaching a convention

of some years’ standing. The result of their action was the Parliament

Act 1911, which finally confirmed the superiority of the Commons.

The Act, as amended in 1949, still governs the relationship between

the two Houses.

The first half of the 20th century also saw the partition of Ireland (in

1921) and the transition from Empire to Commonwealth.

The second half of the 20th century saw constitutional reform across

Europe which recast the relationship between the citizen and the state

and the relationship between nation states and the broader international

community. In Britain, the 1945 Labour Government established the

welfare state, building on the reforms of the 1906 Liberal Government.

British citizens gained a range of economic and social rights, like universal

access to healthcare. The decision to give home rule to India in 1947

was only part of a process in which Britain changes its relationship with

peoples and territories across the globe, as new nation states emerged,

often in bloody struggle, from former European colonial empires. The

post-war settlement also saw the growth in international organisations

and international conceptions of rights. The establishment of the United

Nations in 1945 led to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

(1948), which in turn inspired two major UN human rights treaties, the

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International

Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (both 1966); the UK

is party to each. The Treaty of London (1949) created the Council of

Europe, which now has 47 member states and works to promote

democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Under its auspices, the

European Convention on Human Rights (1950) was drafted principally 13

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The Governance of Britain Introduction

by British lawyers. And in 1973, the UK joined the European Economic

Community (now the European Union) and became a part of a

multinational political structure.

Post-war electoral reforms continued the process of promoting fairness.

These reforms included the abolition of plural voting in 1948, which

meant that electors could vote only in their constituency, and the

reduction of the voting age to 18 in 1969. The Life Peerages Act 1958

allowed the creation of many non-hereditary members of the House

of Lords, and also permitted women to sit in the House of Lords for the

first time. The Peerage Act 1963 allowed hereditary peers to renounce

their titles to remain in the House of Commons.

Local government saw a number of reforms designed to marry democratic

accountability with the most efficient delivery of public services. The

Local Government Act 1972 introduced the two-tier pattern of county

and district councils still used in many parts of England today; however,

the metropolitan county councils that it created, along with the Greater

London Council (1965), were abolished in 1986. The Local Government

Act 1992 allowed the creation of single-tier unitary authorities. Following

successive reforms, local government in Wales, Scotland and Northern

Ireland now also follows a single-tier model, based on counties and

country boroughs (Wales), council areas (Scotland) and districts

(Northern Ireland).

Through the 1980s and 1990s, government power was devolved to

a wide range of bodies, including executive agencies and quangos

(today called non-departmental public bodies). Public services that

had previously been provided only by national or local government

increasingly came to be provided under contract by the private sector.

Many major nationalised utilities, including electricity, water and gas,

were also privatised, as was British Rail in 1995-7. Also in 1997, the

Labour Party returned to power with an agenda for wide-ranging

constitutional reform, outlined earlier in this document.

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The Governance of Britain 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

1. Limiting the powers of

the executive

14. For centuries the executive has, in certain areas, been able to exercise

authority in the name of the Monarch without the people and their

elected representatives in their Parliament being consulted. This is no

longer appropriate in a modern democracy. The Government believes that

the executive should draw its powers from the people, through Parliament.

15. The flow of power from the people to government should be balanced by

the ability of Parliament to hold government to account. However, when

the executive relies on the powers of the royal prerogative – powers

where government acts upon the Monarch’s authority – it is difficult for

Parliament to scrutinise and challenge government’s actions. If voters do

not believe that government wields its power appropriately or that it is

properly accountable then public confidence in the accountability of

decision-making risks being lost.

16. That is why the Government is proposing immediate and specific changes

to strengthen our democracy – changes that will restrict the power of the

Prime Minister and the executive.

17. It is important that the key decisions that affect the whole country – such

as the decision to send troops into armed conflict – are made in the right

way, and with Parliament’s consent. The same is true of treaties that the

UK makes with its partners in Europe and across the world. Government’s

power to deploy troops and ratify treaties stems from the royal prerogative.

In a modern 21st century parliamentary democracy, the Government

considers that basing these powers on the prerogative is out of date. It

will therefore seek to limit its own power by placing the most important

of these prerogative powers onto a more formal footing, conferring power

on Parliament to determine how they are exercised in future. And where

archaic powers are no longer in use – for example the right to impress

people into the Royal Navy – the Government will consider options for

ending them.

18. Recent years have seen increased concern about the security of the nation

and additional measures to protect people and their livelihoods. Decisions

about our national security affect us all and it is important to look at

how the scrutiny of intelligence and security matters can become more

transparent in a way that strengthens the legitimacy of, and support for,

our security and intelligence Agencies without putting our collective

safety at risk. 15

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The Governance of Britain 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

19. It is important that Parliament is strengthened to ensure that its own

powers – whether ancient or more recently acquired – continue to be

exercised effectively within appropriate limits and in a way that means the

people whom it serves understand its work and have faith in its decisions.

Moving royal prerogative powers to Parliament

20. In most modern democracies, the government’s only powers are those

granted to it by a written constitution or by the legislature. A distinguishing

feature of the British constitution is the extent to which government

continues to exercise a number of powers which were not granted to

it by a written constitution, nor by Parliament, but are, rather, ancient

prerogatives of the Crown. These powers derive from arrangements which

preceded the 1689 Declaration of Rights and have been accumulated by

the government without Parliament or the people having a say.

21. The powers acquired by government in this way are commonly referred to

as the “royal prerogative” powers but this term includes a number of

powers, not all of which are exercised by the government. The prerogative

powers include:

• the of the Crown, which the Monarch possesses as

legal prerogatives

an embodiment of the Crown. These include the principle that the

Crown is not bound by statute except by express words or necessary

implication; that is, that the legislation does not make sense unless it

applies to the Crown explicitly.

• the Monarch’s Certain of these

constitutional or personal prerogatives.

prerogative powers are, by convention, exercised on the advice of Her

Ministers, for example the power to grant most honours. These powers

are effectively exercised by the Government.

• which are effectively devolved from the

prerogative executive powers,

Monarch to Her Ministers. The precise scope of the prerogative executive

powers is uncertain: there is no authoritative list. Conventions exist on

the exercise of prerogative executive powers but these remain uncodified.

22. The main prerogative powers exercised by the Government (or by the

Monarch on Government advice) are set out in Box 2.

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The Governance of Britain 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

Main royal prerogative powers exercised by the Government

Box 2:

The Government exercises prerogative powers to:

• Deploy and use the Armed Forces overseas

• Make and ratify treaties

• Issue, refuse, impound and revoke passports

• Acquire and cede territory

• Conduct diplomacy

• Send and receive ambassadors

• Organise the Civil Service

The Government makes recommendations to the Monarch to exercise

her powers to:

• Grant honours or decorations

• Grant mercy

• Grant peerages

• Appoint Ministers

23. The prerogative powers of the Government cannot be exercised without

restraint. The 1689 Bill of Rights formally curtailed the powers of the

Crown by legislating to remove or outlaw a number of ancient rights of

the Crown and subsequent statutes and conventions have limited them

further. Moreover, the courts scrutinise the exercise of many of the powers

through the mechanism of judicial review, whereby the actions of a

Minister can be challenged on the basis that he or she did not have the

power to act in such a way, or that the act was unreasonable. Ultimately

Ministers are also accountable to Parliament for their actions in exercising

the prerogative powers. Ministers can be required to answer questions on

any decisions they take, or on any policies they introduce, regardless of

whether Parliament or the prerogative has conferred on them the power

to act.

24. The Government believes that in general the prerogative powers should

be put onto a statutory basis and brought under stronger parliamentary

2 This will ensure that government is more clearly

scrutiny and control.

2 No changes are proposed to either the legal prerogatives of the Crown or the Monarch’s

constitutional or personal prerogatives, although in some areas the Government proposes to

change the mechanism by which Ministers arrive at their recommendations on the Monarch’s

exercise of those powers. 17

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The Governance of Britain 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

subject to the mandate of the people’s representatives. Proposals in

relation to certain specific powers are set out below and these can be

addressed now. The Government also intends to undertake a wider review

of the remaining prerogative executive powers and will consider whether,

in the longer term, all these powers should be codified or put on a

statutory basis.

Deploying the Armed Forces abroad

25. There are few political decisions more important than the deployment

of the Armed Forces into armed conflict. The Government can currently

exercise the prerogative power to deploy the Armed Forces for armed

conflict overseas without requiring any formal parliamentary agreement.

26. The Government believes that this is now an outdated state of affairs in a

modern democracy. On an issue of such fundamental importance to the

nation, the Government should seek the approval of the representatives

of the people in the House of Commons for significant, non-routine

deployments of the Armed Forces into armed conflict, to the greatest

extent possible. This needs to be done without prejudicing the Government’s

ability to take swift action to protect our national security, or undermining

operational security or effectiveness. The Government will therefore

consult Parliament and the public on how best to achieve this.

27. There have been several attempts in recent years to introduce legislation

which would set out the conditions under which the Government could

not proceed with a deployment without the approval of the House of

Commons. The House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee

3 thought that this was an area in

in its report Taming the Prerogative

which the Government should consider introducing legislation. The House

of Lords Constitution Committee undertook an extensive inquiry in 2005-

4 Its report concluded, conversely, that legislation is not

6 into this subject.

the best route. Instead, it favoured the development of a parliamentary

convention. Such a convention could be formalised by a resolution of the

House of Commons with the same status as Standing Orders of the House.

3 House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee, Taming the Prerogative: Strengthening

Fourth Report of Session 2003–04, HC 422, London, The

Ministerial Accountability to Parliament,

Stationery Office Limited, 16 March 2004.

4 House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution, Waging War: Parliament’s role and responsibility,

HL Paper 236, London, The Stationery Office Ltd, 27 July 2006.

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The Governance of Britain 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

28. Both reports recognised that there were difficult issues which would need

to be addressed to ensure that the mechanism put in place would provide

sufficient flexibility for deployments which need to be made without prior

parliamentary approval for reasons of urgency or necessary operational

secrecy. We would want to avoid any risk that members of the Armed

Forces could be subject to legal liability for actions taken in good faith

while protecting the national interest in such deployments.

29. The Government will propose that the House of Commons develop

a parliamentary convention that could be formalised by a resolution.

In parallel, it will give further consideration to the option of legislation,

taking account of the need to preserve the flexibility and security of the

Armed Forces. It will be important to strike a balance between providing

Parliament with enough information to make an informed decision while

restricting the disclosure of information to maintain operational security.

30. As set out in the motion approved by the House of Commons when it

5 the Government will undertake

debated this issue on 15 May 2007,

further consultation on this issue before bringing forward more detailed

proposals for Parliament to consider.

Ratifying treaties

31. Every year, the UK becomes party to many international treaties. These

result in binding obligations for the UK under international law across a

wide range of domestic and foreign policy issues. It is right that Parliament

should be able to scrutinise the treaty making process.

32. The Government’s ability to ratify treaties is currently constrained in two

ways. Treaties that require changes to UK law need the enactment of prior

legislation which, of course, requires the full assent of Parliament. Examples

in recent years have included the Statute of the International Criminal

6 and European Union accession treaties. Many other treaties are

Court

covered by a convention, known as the Ponsonby Rule, which is explained

in Box 3.

33. The Government believes that the procedure for allowing Parliament to

scrutinise treaties should be formalised. The Government is of the view

that Parliament may wish to hold a debate and vote on some treaties

and, with a view to its doing so, will therefore consult on an appropriate

means to put the Ponsonby Rule on a statutory footing.

5 House of Commons Hansard, Col 1201, 15 May 2007.

6 Rome Statute of the Criminal Court, Rome, CM 5590, 17 July 1998 [The United Kingdom

instrument of Ratification was deposited on 4 October 2001 and the Statute entered into force

for the United Kingdom on 1July 2002]. 19

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The Governance of Britain 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

The Ponsonby Rule

Box 3:

The Ponsonby Rule provides that treaties which do not come into force

on signature, but which instead come into force later when governments

express their consent to be bound through a formal act such as ratification,

must be laid before both Houses of Parliament as a Command Paper for

a minimum period of 21 sitting days. In 2000, the Government undertook

that it would normally provide the opportunity to debate any treaty

involving major political, military or diplomatic issues, if the relevant

select committee and the Liaison Committee so request.

Explanatory Memoranda are provided with each treaty laid before

Parliament to keep it informed about the UK’s treaty intentions.

Parliamentary debates are, however, rare. There is no binding mechanism

for Parliament to force a debate or which dictates the form of any debate.

Dissolving Parliament

34. The current constitutional convention is that the Prime Minister can

request the Monarch to exercise her prerogative power to dissolve

Parliament. Dissolution will trigger a general election. At the end of a five-

year term, Parliament is automatically dissolved (under the Parliament Act

1911); and the Prime Minister will, by convention, ask the Monarch to

dissolve Parliament when it has passed a motion of no confidence in the

government. Otherwise, Parliament is only dissolved if the Monarch so

chooses and in practice, for over a hundred years, he or she has done this

whenever, and only when, the Prime Minister has requested it. This gives

the Prime Minister significant control over Parliament.

35. The Government believes that the convention should be changed so that

the Prime Minister is required to seek the approval of the House of Commons

before asking the Monarch for a dissolution. Any new arrangements would

have to provide for the situation in which it proves impossible to form a

government which commands the support of the House of Commons and

yet Parliament refuses to dissolve itself.

36. The Government will consult Parliament, interested bodies and the public.

If it is agreed that changes should be made, the Prime Minister will

announce the decision to Parliament and this will, through precedent,

become a constitutional convention.

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The Governance of Britain 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

7

Recalling the House of Commons 8

37. Under the existing Standing Orders of the House, the House of Commons

is recalled during a recess only when the Government makes representations

to the Speaker for a recall and the Speaker judges that the public interest

9 This means that Members of Parliament who are not

requires a recall.

members of the Government can request a recall only through the

Government. If the Government refuses such a request, MPs have no

other course of action.

38. The Speaker has, at the request of Government, recalled the House of

10 during a recess several times in recent years, such as on 2/3

Commons

September 1998 (to discuss the Omagh bombings), on 14 September

2001 (to discuss the 9/11 atrocity), on 3 April 2002 (to pay respects to

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) and on 24 September

2002 (to discuss Iraq). But the Government believes that where a majority

of members of Parliament request a recall, the Speaker should consider

the request, including in cases where the Government itself has not

sought a recall. It would remain at the Speaker’s discretion to decide

whether or not the House of Commons should be recalled based on his or

her judgement or whether the public interest requires it, and to determine

the date of the recall.

39. The Government will therefore suggest to the House of Commons that

the Standing Orders of the House be amended to allow this to happen

and will consult with the House of Commons Modernisation Committee

on precisely what amendment should be made.

Placing the Civil Service on a statutory footing

40. Britain has been fortunate over the last century and a half to have a Civil

Service governed by the key principles of impartiality, integrity, honesty

and objectivity. The British Civil Service, as designed by the Northcote-

11 remains widely admired across the world. The

Trevelyan report in 1854,

Civil Service, underpinned by these values, has helped guide successive

governments of different political colours through profound political,

economic and social change.

17 Although the power to recall the House of Commons is not a prerogative power it is discussed

here as it is exercised in a similar manner to the power to dissolve Parliament and many of the

same issues surround its use.

18 House of Commons Standing Orders Relating to Public Business 2007, Standing Order Number

13, London, The Stationery Office, 2007.

19 The Lord Speaker has discretion to recall the House of Lords but may do so only after consultation

with Her Majesty’s Government.

10 At these times the House of Lords was also recalled on the request of the Lord Speaker.

11 The ‘Northcote-Trevelyan Report’ was first published in Parliamentary Papers, 1854, volume xxvii,

but it is more accessible today as Appendix B of the ‘Fulton Report’, Cmnd 3638, June 1968. 21

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The Governance of Britain 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

41. However, the role, governance and values of the Civil Service are not set

out in parliamentary legislation. Instead, the Prime Minister, as Minister for

the Civil Service, exercises powers in relation to the Civil Service under the

royal prerogative.

42. The Northcote-Trevelyan report recommended that the core values and

principles of the Civil Service be enshrined in parliamentary legislation.

However no government has delivered on this recommendation. The

merits of a Civil Service Bill have been the subject of considerable debate

in recent years. In 2003, the House of Commons Public Administration

Select Committee published a draft Civil Service Bill and a year later,

building on this, the Government launched a consultation on its own bill.

These consultation processes and other public debates have revealed a

considerable body of opinion in favour of Civil Service legislation.

43. The Government believes that, as part of the legislation it intends to bring

forward in the next Session, it is right to include measures which will

enshrine the core principles and values of the Civil Service in law.

44. This legislation will place the independent Civil Service Commissioners on

a statutory footing. It will also make a legal reality of the historic principle

of appointment on merit following fair and open competition. As the Civil

Service Commissioners themselves have pointed out, legislation will

ensure that the Civil Service is not left vulnerable to change at the whim

of the Government of the day without proper parliamentary debate and

scrutiny. It is also important, however, that legislation in respect of the

Civil Service is concise and focused, ensuring it does not hamper the

Service’s ability to respond flexibly and rapidly to changing circumstances.

45. Amongst other matters, the legislation will clarify the legitimate and

constructive role of Special Advisers within government. Having Special

Advisers allows Ministers to get the political advice they need, and

reinforces the political impartiality of the permanent Civil Service by

clearly distinguishing the sources of political and non-political advice.

46. It is important that the boundaries of the role of Special Advisers are

made clear. Article 3(3) of the Civil Service Order in Council 1995 (as

amended in 1997) allowed the Prime Minister to appoint up to three

Special Advisers in 10 Downing Street who were not subject to the general

restriction that their role is to provide assistance to a Minister, and are

allowed to give orders to civil servants.

47. The Government believes that it is inappropriate for even a limited

number of Special Advisers to have such a role and has revoked these

provisions by an Order in Council. This will be made permanent in the

forthcoming legislation.

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The Governance of Britain 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

48. The Government will consult on the proposed Civil Service legislation with

the Scottish Executive and Welsh Assembly Government. The Northern

Ireland Civil Service is a separate service.

Wider review and reforms of the prerogative executive powers

49. The proposals set out above address some of the specific concerns that

have been raised about the use of the royal prerogative. The Government

intends to build on the proposals of the report of the House of Commons

12 and on discussions by

Public Administration Select Committee in 2004,

members of all parties in recent years, and begin a modern, systematic

13

reform of the scope and nature of the prerogative powers.

50. The powers currently exercised under the royal prerogative must continue

to be held by someone, with appropriate constraints on their use. The

Government will consider whether all the executive prerogative powers

should, in the long term, be codified or brought under statutory control.

The Government will consult on whether:

• individual prerogatives, in addition to those discussed above, should be

brought onto a statutory basis. Prerogatives to be examined will include

the power to grant pardons and remission to prisoners and the power

to issue, refuse to issue, revoke or withdraw passports. Both these

prerogatives can have a profound effect on the lives of individuals and

Parliament, as the representatives of the people, should be confident

that it endorses the circumstances in which they are exercised;

• certain prerogative powers which may now be considered archaic

might be transferred elsewhere or even abolished; and

• there may be a case for abolishing certain prerogative powers which

are now effectively redundant (either because they have been replaced

by legislation, such as the guardianship of infants, or because they are

no longer applicable, such as the Crown’s right to impress men into

the Royal Navy).

51. The process of consultation and review will take account of areas in which

prerogative powers are now exercised by the devolved administrations. For

instance, in Scotland the prerogative of mercy is exercised by the Scottish

Executive as it has responsibility for criminal law and prisons.

12 House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee, Taming the Prerogative:

Fourth Report of Session 2003–04,

Strengthening Ministerial Accountability to Parliament,

HC 422, London, The Stationery Office Limited, 16 March 2004.

13 None of the reforms raised in this paper is concerned with uses of the royal prerogative in

countries and British Overseas Territories other than the UK of which The Queen is Monarch. 23

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The Governance of Britain 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

Role of the Attorney General

52. As the chief Law Officer of the Crown, the Attorney General is currently

the Crown’s principal legal adviser; has ministerial responsibility for areas

of criminal and civil justice, including superintendence of the main

prosecuting authorities; and is responsible for exercising certain functions

as guardian of the public interest (including those functions he or she

exercises in relation to individual criminal cases).

53. This set of responsibilities has evolved gradually over many centuries. The

complexity of the role has attracted much public comment in recent years

around several issues, most notably:

• the position of a Government Minister as chief legal adviser; and

• the position, often statutory, of the Attorney in the role of guardian of

the public interest.

54. The Government is fully committed to enhancing public confidence and

trust in the office of Attorney General and is keen to encourage public

debate on how best to ensure this and will listen to the views of all those

with an interest. We will therefore publish a consultation document before

the summer recess which considers possible ways of alleviating these

conflicts (or the appearance of them) and invites comments. The Government

looks forward in particular to the report of the Constitutional Affairs Select

Committee of the House of Commons, and will study the Committee’s

report carefully.

55. The Attorney General will continue to exercise statutory superintendence

functions over the prosecution authorities throughout this consultation

exercise. The trilateral arrangements for the criminal justice system

involving a partnership of the Home Secretary, Secretary of State for

Justice and the Attorney General will continue.

56. The position of Her Majesty’s Attorney General as legal adviser to the

Crown remains unchanged.

24 |

The Governance of Britain 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

The Government’s role in ecclesiastical, judicial and

public appointments

Appointments in the Church of England

57. The Church of England is by law established as the Church in England

and the Monarch is its Supreme Governor. The Government remains

committed to this position.

58. Because The Queen acts on the advice of Ministers, the Prime Minister as

her First Minister has a role in advising The Queen on certain appointments

within the Church. Diocesan and Suffragan Bishops, as well as 28 Cathedral

Deans, a small number of Cathedral Canons, some 200 parish priests and

a number of other post-holders in the Church of England are appointed by

The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister.

59. In the case of Archbishops and Diocesan Bishops, reflecting the agreement

reached between the Church and the State in 1976, the Crown Nominations

Commission (formerly the Crown Appointments Commission) passes two

names to the Prime Minister, usually in order of preference, who may

recommend either of them to The Queen, or reject both and ask for

further nominations. The Crown Nominations Commission is a Church-

based body, with the Archbishop of Canterbury as Chair and the Archbishop

of York as Vice-Chair. However, the Prime Minister’s Secretary for

Appointments is an ex-officio and non-voting member. The chair of the

Crown Nominations Commission is taken by the Archbishop in whose

province the vacancy has arisen.

60. For the appointment of Suffragan Bishops the relevant Diocesan Bishop is

required by law to submit two names to the Crown. These are passed to

the Prime Minister by the Archbishop of the Province concerned with a

supportive letter. It has been the convention for more than a century that

the Prime Minister advises the Monarch to nominate the person named

first in the petition.

61. In the case of Deans appointed by the Crown, it is the practice for the

Prime Minister to commend a name to the Queen, chosen from a shortlist

provided by the Prime Minister’s Secretary for Appointments and agreed

with the Diocesan Bishop, and following consultations with the Cathedral,

Bishop, Archbishop of the province concerned and others as appropriate.

(The aim is to reach agreement with the Bishop on the preferred order

of the list.) In the case of the Crown canonries and parishes, following

consultations led by the Downing Street Appointments Secretariat, the

Prime Minister recommends the appointment to The Queen. 25

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The Governance of Britain 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

62. In considering the role which the Prime Minister and the Government

should play in Church appointments, the Government is guided by

four principles:

• the Government reaffirms its commitment to the position of the

Church of England by law established, with the Sovereign as its

Supreme Governor, and the relationship between the Church and

State. The Government greatly values the role played by the Church

in national life in a range of spheres;

• The Queen should continue to be advised on the exercise of her

powers of appointment by one of her Ministers, which usually means

the Prime Minister;

• in choosing how best to advise The Queen on such appointments, the

Government believes in principle that the Prime Minister should not

play an active role in the selection of individual candidates. Therefore,

the Prime Minister should not use the royal prerogative to exercise

choice in recommending appointments of senior ecclesiastical posts,

including diocesan bishops, to The Queen; and

• the Church should be consulted as to how best arrangements can be

put in place to select candidates for individual ecclesiastical

appointments in line with the preceding principles.

63. To reflect the principle that, where possible, the Prime Minister should not

have an active role in the selection of individual candidates, for diocesan

bishoprics the Prime Minister proposes that from now on he should ask

the Crown Nominations Commission to put only one name to him, a

recommendation he would then convey to The Queen. The Government

will discuss with the Church any necessary consequential changes to

procedures. The current convention for appointing Suffragan Bishops

will continue.

64. The Government respects and understands the different arrangements

for Cathedral, parish and other Crown appointments in the Church.

Developing any new arrangements for such appointments will require a

process of constructive engagement between the Government and the

Church, and the Government is committed to ensuring a productive

dialogue. The Government is aware that a Church review of certain senior

appointments, including Cathedral appointments, is to be debated by

General Synod later this month; it hopes that this will be a good starting

point for that dialogue. Until new arrangements are agreed, the Secretary

for Appointments will continue to assist as appropriate.

26 |

The Governance of Britain 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

65. These changes would also have implications for the Lord Chancellor’s

patronage of some 450 parishes and a small number of canonries. It would

be sensible for any changes agreed to the procedures for Crown patronage

to be also agreed for the Lord Chancellor’s patronage.

66. No changes are proposed to Crown appointments to the Royal Peculiars

such as Westminster Abbey and St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, reflecting

the personal nature of the relationship of these institutions with the

Monarch. Current conventions will continue.

Other non-executive appointments

67. As well as Bishops and other senior ecclesiastical appointments, there are

many other appointments that are not related to the carrying out of the

executive’s functions where Ministers, often the Prime Minister, have a

role in advising the Monarch. These include the Poet Laureate, Regius

Professors, the Masters of Trinity College and Churchill College, Cambridge,

and the Astronomer Royal.

68. The Government proposes to review such appointments in conjunction

with the institutions affected with a view to removing any active role for

Ministers, instead asking that the Government be given only one name,

which it would pass to the Monarch.

Judicial appointments

69. Most countries have some provision for the executive to select key judges

from a list of names. In England and Wales, until recently all judicial

14

appointments were made or recommended by the Lord Chancellor.

70. Since the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) began work in 2006

the Lord Chancellor has retained a residual role in appointments, either in

accepting the JAC’s selection or rejecting a name or asking for it to be

reconsidered. The grounds on which he can reject or ask for reconsideration

are strictly limited by statute and reasons must be given in writing.

14 The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 established the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) as

an independent body to select judicial office holders in England and Wales. Scotland has had a

separate JAC for a number of years. 27

|

The Governance of Britain 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

71. The Government is willing to look at the future of its role in judicial

appointments: to consider going further than the present arrangement,

including conceivably a role for Parliament itself, after consultation with

the judiciary, Parliament and the public, if it is felt that there is a need.

In consulting on this issue the Government will also take account of the

roles in judicial appointments of Ministers in the devolved administrations.

Streamlining public appointments

Improving current processes and strengthening the House of Commons’ role

72. Public bodies at arm’s-length from Ministers play an important role in

public life across a range of areas ranging from the regulation of key

utilities to health service bodies and from the boards of museums and

galleries to those who can investigate complaints about the way key public

services are provided. All in all there are some 21,000 such appointments

and ultimately they are the responsibility of Ministers, who are accountable

to Parliament for these appointments.

73. Lord Nolan’s report in 1995 recommended a number of measures designed

to bolster public confidence in such appointments. The independent Office

of the Commissioner for Public Appointments was created, which oversees

and audits a wide range of public appointments in line with core principles

of appointment on merit, probity and transparency.

74. Building on these improvements, the Government believes the time is

now right to go further and seek to involve Parliament in the appointment

of key public officials. The role of Parliament, and specifically the issue of

Committee hearings with those nominated for office, has been the subject

of considerable debate over the past decade. Some, including the

Commissioner for Public Appointments, have drawn attention to potential

risks about deterring suitable candidates and the need for confidentiality

in appointments processes, because, for example, a number of key

appointments could impact on the financial markets.

75. However, there are a number of positions in which Parliament has a

particularly strong interest because the officeholder exercises statutory or

other powers in relation to protecting the public’s rights and interests. Some

of these appointments are not subject to oversight by the Commissioner

for Public Appointments or other form of independent scrutiny.

28 |

The Governance of Britain 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

76. The Government therefore believes that Parliament, through its select

committees, should play this role. It therefore proposes that the Government

nominee for key positions such as those listed below should be subject to

a pre-appointment hearing with the relevant select committee. The hearing

would be non-binding, but in the light of the report from the committee,

Ministers would decide whether to proceed. The hearings would cover

issues such as the candidate’s suitability for the role, his or her key

priorities, and the process used in selection.

77. The Government, in consultation with the Liaison Committee, will prepare

a list of such appointments for which these hearings will apply. Where

responsibility is devolved, it will be for the respective administration to

consider the appointment. Examples might include:

• The First Civil Service Commissioner (following the announcement by

the Government that it is to legislate to place the Civil Service and its

independent Commissioners on a statutory footing, it is right that

Parliament should have a role in this appointment);

• The Commissioner for Public Appointments (who is responsible for

ensuring public confidence in several thousand other appointments);

• The Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and Health

Service Commissioner for England (who is responsible for investigating

maladministration in central government and the NHS);

• The Local Government Ombudsman for England; and

• Independent inspectors such as the Chief Inspector of Prisons and the

Chief Inspector of Probation for England and Wales.

78. This list will be kept under review and discussed with the Liaison Committee,

and, where appropriate, the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

79. For market-sensitive and certain other appointments, including the

Governor and the two Deputy Governors of the Bank of England, the

Chairman of the Financial Services Authority, and some utility regulators,

there is a particular set of issues around confirmation hearings. But the

Government does believe that it is important to ensure greater

accountability than currently exists. So, for these positions, once the

appointment has been approved, the relevant select committee will be

invited to convene a hearing with the nominee before he or she takes up

post. The relevant department will consult with the select committee as

to what such hearings might usefully cover. 29

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The Governance of Britain 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

80. The Statistics and Registration Service Bill, currently before Parliament,

provides for the creation of an independent Statistics Board, with a non-

executive Chair, appointed by the Crown. Because of the importance of

this appointment in ensuring public confidence in official statistics, the

Government believes that there should be a vote in the House of

Commons to confirm the Government’s nominee.

81. In other areas, the Government wishes to explore the scope for improving

appointments processes in line with the best practice of the Commissioner

for Public Appointments. There has been a separate process for NHS

appointments since 2001 when the Appointments Commission was created,

and this area will now be reviewed.

Limiting Ministers’ involvement in the granting of honours

82. Honours are awarded at New Year and on The Queen’s Official Birthday in

June. While a small number of awards are the personal gift of The Queen,

the remainder are made on the basis of recommendations by the Prime

Minister, or the Foreign Secretary or Defence Secretary for overseas and

military honours respectively.

83. It is critical to the integrity of the honours process that it operates and

is seen to operate in an impartial and transparent manner. This has been

the motivation behind the recent set of reforms to the honours system

brought about following the two reviews of the system conducted by the

15 and Sir Hayden Phillips and

Select Committee on Public Administration

16

.

both published in 2004

84. For the Prime Minister’s List eight specialist committees – of which the

Chairs and majority of members (selected after open advertising) are not

civil servants – make recommendations to a central Honours Committee.

This is chaired by the Cabinet Secretary and includes the chairs of all the

specialist committees. It reviews the proposals. The final list is forwarded

to the Prime Minister for submission to The Queen. Candidates come

from two streams: Government Departments submit names put to them

by outside organisations, or identified through departmental work; and

names are proposed by members of the public.

85. In March 2006, the Prime Minister’s predecessor made a statement in

which he committed neither to add to nor subtract from the final list of

names recommended to him by the Main Honours Committee. The Prime

Minister restates this commitment and the Secretaries of State for Foreign

Affairs and Defence will do likewise.

15 House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee, A Matter of Honour: Reforming the

Fifth Report of Session 2003-04, HC 212-I, 7 July 2004.

Honours System,

16 Sir Hayden Phillips, Cabinet Office, 2004.

Review of the Honours System,

30 |

The Governance of Britain 2. Making the executive more accountable

2. Making the executive

more accountable

86. The Government wants to ensure that the powers that it holds are

legitimately owned and fairly used. As explained above, the Government

will be consulting on how best to ensure that it has appropriate authority

and no more than is required. In the UK’s system, the separation of

powers ensures that no one institution can wield too much influence over

the others: Parliament, the executive and the judiciary balance each other.

It is an organic relationship which evolves and requires continual review.

87. Chapter 1 explained that the Government wishes to strengthen Parliament

to ensure that its powers continue to be exercised effectively and in a

way that means the people whom it serves understand its work and have

confidence in its decisions. But it is also vital that in exercising the powers

that it legitimately holds, it is answerable to the people who elected it.

At all times the people’s elected representatives play the crucial role of

holding government to account, and at least every five years, the UK

electorate has the opportunity to vote to elect a government. The British

system affords strength to the executive, enabling it to pursue the public’s

wishes. But that strength must not be unfettered. If a political system

is to be trusted by the public it serves, it is vital that the power of the

executive is held to account.

88. This chapter discusses various methods for ensuring that the executive

is appropriately accountable for its actions. As security issues rise up the

political agenda, government decisions on security and intelligence must

be subject to proper scrutiny. More generally, Parliament needs to be

equipped to call the executive to account and proposals in this chapter

seek to add to the scrutiny that Parliament can exercise over government,

including over the behaviour of Ministers. The Government also believes

that people within their communities should be able to hold the executive

to account over local issues. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

devolution has put power closer to the people and the Government has

now created Regional Ministers in England. Proposals for regional select

committees seek the same aim. 31

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The Governance of Britain 2. Making the executive more accountable

National security

Intelligence and Security Committee

89. Ensuring the security of the nation in the face of terrorist and other

dangers is the first responsibility of government. The security and

intelligence Agencies play a vital role in this and other aspects of the

Government’s national security policies. To ensure that these Agencies

command full public support for, and confidence in, the work they do it is

important that the representatives of the people hold them to account in

an appropriate manner, while respecting operational sensitivities.

90. The work of the security and intelligence Agencies often, by its nature,

involves highly-classified information, disclosure of which would be

gravely damaging to the national interest and could put individuals at risk.

This must be a fundamental consideration in determining the conduct of

parliamentary scrutiny if the oversight is not to undermine the operational

effectiveness of the Agencies. In order to exercise effective oversight over

the expenditure, administration and policy of the Agencies, the Committee

scrutinising their work needs regular access to much more highly-classified

information and evidence than that normally shared with select committees

of the House. The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) was, therefore,

established – as, effectively, the Select Committee for the Agencies – under

separate legislation by the Intelligence Services Act 1994.

91. The ISC has senior and well-qualified membership from both Houses, drawn

from all the major parties. It has acted independently and assiduously to

scrutinise the work of the Agencies and other parts of the intelligence

community. Its reports are published and debated in Parliament. However,

because they are prepared under separate arrangements and the

Committee meets only in private, some argue that the process is

insufficiently transparent.

92. So the Government proposes to consult on how the statutory basis of the

Intelligence and Security Committee should be amended to bring the way

in which it is appointed, operates and reports as far as possible into line

with that of other select committees, while maintaining the necessary

arrangements for access to, and safeguarding of, highly-classified

information on which effective security depends.

93. While the consultation on the Committee’s statutory basis is ongoing, a

number of interim changes could be made within the existing legislation:

• greater transparency over how Committee members are appointed,

using similar processes of consultation between the major parties as

those for select committee selection;

32 |

The Governance of Britain 2. Making the executive more accountable

• giving the Committee the option to meet in public (including, if

Parliament agrees, in the Houses of Parliament);

• House of Commons debates on the Committee’s reports, to be led by

the Chair of the Committee rather than by a Government Minister,

with reports also debated in the House of Lords; and

• strengthening the Secretariat to the Committee, including through

the appointment of an independent investigator, and making the

Secretariat clearly separate from the staff of the Cabinet Office.

(The Committee takes evidence in, and has a Secretariat based in,

the Cabinet Office for security reasons).

94. There is also an overlapping agenda between the work of the Home

Affairs Committee, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and the ISC

with all three touching on issues relating to counter-terrorism and security.

The Government is keen that their oversight activity is, taken together,

as effective as possible.

95. The Government will invite the Chair of the Committee to advise on how

to maximise the effectiveness of the Committee’s scrutiny role, including

on the Committee’s relationship to Parliament and to relevant select

committees, under the existing legislation.

96. Following consultation, the Government will then bring forward proposals

to take the reforms further on a revised statutory basis.

National Security Strategy

97. The Government will publish a National Security Strategy setting out our

approach to the range of security challenges and opportunities we face,

now and in the future and both at home and overseas. The strategy will

set the framework for taking forward those issues across a range of

departments and agencies, and provide the basis for deciding on changes

in priorities to reflect changed circumstances.

98. To oversee the development and delivery of that strategy, and the

Government’s wider international, European and international development

policies, the Government will establish a National Security Committee to

ensure that its policies and their delivery are coordinated and appropriate

to the changing nature of the risks and challenges facing us in the 21st

century. The Committee will meet regularly, under the Chairmanship of

the Prime Minister, and comprise senior Cabinet colleagues from relevant

departments, supported by relevant senior officials and a secretariat in the

Cabinet Office. It will replace the existing Ministerial Committees on

Defence and Overseas Policy, Security and Terrorism, and Europe. 33

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The Governance of Britain 2. Making the executive more accountable

99. The Government will consult Parliament over how the strategy and its

implementation can best be scrutinised, as it affects the interests of a

number of select committees and the Intelligence and Security Committee.

Parliament’s scrutiny of Government

100. Each year the Government sets out its legislative programme. This typically

contains around 30 bills and is formally announced by Her Majesty The

Queen in The Queen’s Speech at the start of the parliamentary Session.

The Government believes that, while preparing its advice to The Queen

on the contents of the Speech, it should seek the views of Parliament

and the public.

101. The Prime Minister will, therefore, at an appropriate time in advance of

The Queen’s Speech, inform Parliament of the Government’s proposed

legislative programme for the forthcoming year. This will be followed by

a publication outlining the bills proposed. The Government will seek the

views of Parliament and the public on the list of bills and the content of

those bills and will consider the most appropriate use of parliamentary time.

102. The Queen’s Speech will remain the only formal, final announcement

of the Government’s legislative programme and the principal national

occasion in which The Queen outlines the programme of Her government.

However, the new arrangements will ensure that Parliament and the

public have an early opportunity to discuss its plans and priorities before

the programme is formally announced.

Departmental debates in the House of Commons

103. At present, the annual objectives of some Government Departments, and

the Departments’ plans for achieving those objectives, although often

scrutinised by select committees of the House of Commons, are only

rarely scrutinised on the floor of the House.

104. There are some exceptions. Every year, the House scrutinises the objectives

and plans of HM Treasury in its debates following the publication of the

Budget and the Pre-Budget Report; there is a debate on the Defence

Estimates, which scrutinises the plans of the Ministry of Defence; and, by

tradition, there is a debate on Welsh issues on or around St David’s Day. In

addition, there is a five-day debate in both Houses following The Queen’s

Speech, which includes discussion of the bills which Departments intend

to take through Parliament during that session. From now on, there will

also be the opportunity to debate the legislative programme in advance

of The Queen’s Speech.

34 |

The Governance of Britain 2. Making the executive more accountable

105. Each Department is scrutinised by Departmental questions in the Commons

and by a Departmental select committee, which can investigate any

subject that falls within the remit of the Department, seek evidence from

experts and Ministers as part of its inquiry and produce a report to which

the Government is obliged to respond within two months. But if the

Government’s response is unfavourable to the committee’s recommendations,

the select committee has little opportunity to press its case. Select

committee reports can currently be debated in a three hour slot in 17

Westminster Hall. The subjects are chosen by the Liaison Committee.

There are typically around 20 such debates each year. But there is rarely

a full debate on the floor of the House on a select committee report and

such reports more usually deal with an individual topic rather than the

generality of a Department’s responsibilities.

106. Departments are also subject to parliamentary scrutiny and accountability

through debates in Westminster Hall, where concerned backbench MPs

can raise topics. Although these debates give a valuable opportunity to

probe government policy, they all take place technically on a motion for

adjournment and hence Parliament’s opportunity to challenge Government

policy is limited.

107. Consequently, except for HM Treasury, the Ministry of Defence and Welsh

affairs, scrutiny of Departmental objectives and plans on the floor of the

House is conducted only on an basis, and, as a result, a year can

ad hoc

pass with the objectives and plans of some Departments having never

been properly discussed.

108. The Government believes that the House of Commons should be

guaranteed an opportunity to debate, on the floor of the House, the

annual objectives and plans of the major Government Departments in

order to strengthen further Parliament’s scrutiny of the executive. The

Government will therefore ask the House of Commons Modernisation

Committee to consider ways to provide for this.

Transparency of Government expenditure

109. A key role of Parliament, and of the House of Commons in particular,

is to hold the Government to account for expenditure. The Government

intends to make it easier for Parliament to do so by improving the

transparency and accountability of Government expenditure, in line with

18

recommendations from the House of Commons Treasury Committee.

17 The Liaison Committee is chaired by Rt Hon Alan Williams (Labour, Swansea West) and includes

the 30 Chairmen of select committees.

18 The House of Commons Treasury Committee’s Sixth Report Session 2006-07 on the Comprehensive

Spending Review 2007 (HC279 – published on 25 June). 35

|

The Governance of Britain 2. Making the executive more accountable

110. At present there are three different systems for presenting Government

expenditure. The Government uses budgets to plan what it will spend;

then it presents Estimates to Parliament for approval; and finally, after

the year-end, it publishes resource accounts. There are some important

differences between these three systems. Although there are good historic

reasons for the evolution of different systems, the current state of affairs

can be confusing for users and consumers; restricts good financial

management in Departments; is costly and inefficient for Government;

and makes it difficult for the House of Commons to track how resources

are being used.

111. The Government will therefore simplify its reporting to Parliament,

ensuring that it reports in a more consistent fashion, in line with the

fiscal rules, at all three stages in the process; on plans, Estimates and

actual expenditure outturns. This will make it easier for Parliament to

understand how the Government has used the resources voted to it,

and thus to hold the Government to account. It will also mean greater

administrative efficiency. The Government will consult on how best to

effect this simplification.

Independence of the Office for National Statistics

112. Impartial information is vital to an open and democratic society. The

official statistics produced across Government are used to make decisions

about society and the economy, and by people to better understand their

country and how it is changing. In order to enhance the quality and

integrity of official statistics, the Government has laid the Statistics and

Registration Services Bill before Parliament.

113. The Bill provides for the creation of a new body, the Statistics Board, with

statutory responsibility for ensuring the quality and comprehensiveness

of official statistics. The Board will oversee what is currently the Office

for National Statistics (ONS), and providing independent scrutiny of

official statistics wherever produced. The Board will be a Non-Ministerial

Department, acting at arm’s length from Ministers. Its responsibilities will

cover the whole UK statistical system, including England, Scotland, Wales

and Northern Ireland. The Board will replace the current role of ministers

with respect to the ONS, with an executive office, headed by the national

statistician, acting as the ONS’s successor body. As explained in Chapter 1,

the Government believes that appointments to the Chair of the Board

should be subject to confirmation by Parliament.

36 |

The Governance of Britain 2. Making the executive more accountable

114. The Government has also announced further changes to help improve

trust in statistics. The British public expect, and the British media demands,

that Ministers are able to account immediately for the implications of

statistics about policy areas for which they are democratically responsible.

Some have suggested, however, that the existing arrangements for giving

Ministers advance sight of National Statistics are overly generous and

contribute to a perception of Ministerial interference in statistics, which

in turn has an impact on trust in statistics. The Government therefore

previously announced its intention to reduce pre-release such access from

up to five days (as now) to 40.5 hours for all statistics. Recognising the

continuing concern about pre-release arrangements, the Government will

go even further, reducing pre-release access to National Statistics to a

maximum of 24 hours. This tightening of current arrangements will be

set out in secondary legislation, alongside rules and principles to guide

departments in reducing the number of people that receive pre-release

access, and to which statistics.

Regions and responsibility

Regional Ministers

115. There are nine regional Government Offices in England providing

“central government in the regions”, implementing a wide range of

policies on behalf of 11 Whitehall Departments. There are also nine

Regional Development Agencies (RDAs). RDAs drive and co-ordinate

regional economic development and regeneration. Their aim is to

improve their relative competitiveness and reduce imbalances within

and between regions.

116. The Prime Minister appointed Ministers for the English regions on 28 June

2007. Regional Ministers are responsible for providing a clear sense of

strategic direction for their region. Regional Ministers also give citizens

a voice in central government, ensuring that government policy takes

account of the differing needs of the nine English regions. Regional Ministers

will make central government more visible in the regions, helping to raise

its profile and generate awareness of the political system.

117. There are a range of functions that Regional Ministers will undertake.

These are mostly clustered around the responsibilities of the Government

Offices and the RDAs, particularly in relation to economic development.

Regional Ministers will be able to take questions in Parliament on the

work of regional bodies, and on regional strategies. Regional Ministers 37


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Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea in scienze internazionali e istituzioni europee
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Università: Milano - Unimi
A.A.: 2011-2012

I contenuti di questa pagina costituiscono rielaborazioni personali del Publisher Atreyu di informazioni apprese con la frequenza delle lezioni di Politica comparata e studio autonomo di eventuali libri di riferimento in preparazione dell'esame finale o della tesi. Non devono intendersi come materiale ufficiale dell'università Milano - Unimi o del prof Giuliani Marco.

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