PASC 17

Session 2002-03

Press Notice No.17


HUTTON, PHILLIS AND THE
MACHINERY OF GOVERNMENT

PASC-the Commons Public Administration Select Committee-is to examine some of the implications for the Civil Service and the machinery of government of the Hutton Inquiry into the events surrounding the death of Dr David Kelly. In the same inquiry, the Committee will also assess whether the major changes taking place in and around the press office at No 10 will really help improve the management of Government communications.

Announcing the inquiry today, the Chairman Tony Wright MP said:

"The machinery of government is currently under fierce scrutiny. Two inquiries-that being carried out by Lord Hutton and the Review of the Government Information and Communication Service (GICS) led by Mr Bob Phillis-are subjecting the whole system of public administration to serious examination.

"The Hutton Inquiry is helping to answer many specific questions about the events leading to Dr Kelly's death. But its remit is limited, and inevitably it is raising a series of general concerns about wider issues of public administration which it is not designed to answer. These include the role of leadership and management across Whitehall, and especially that of the Head of the Home Civil Service, and of the Cabinet Office as the department with overall responsibility for management of the Service. 

"In a logical progression from our continuing examination of the work of the Cabinet Office and the "New Centre" of government, we wish to look into these broader questions, and to draw conclusions about the ability of the system to prevent future problems, wherever they occur in Whitehall. We have no intention of re-opening any previous inquiry, or seeking to examine wider policy issues.  

"In this inquiry we also plan to examine the implications of the conclusions of both Hutton and Phillis about the performance and approach of Government press officers. The Government has already accepted some radical proposals for change in the management of the GICS and No 10 press office, and we will be seeking evidence both on that and on the final Phillis report, which will follow that of the Hutton Inquiry.

"We hope to hear evidence from major players including ministers, Sir Andrew Turnbull, Head of the Home Civil Service, Alastair Campbell and his No 10 replacement David Hill."

NB: THE COMMITTEE HAS RECENTLY MOVED OFFICES FROM PORTCULLIS HOUSE TO: 7 MILLBANK, LONDON, SW1P 3JA.