Press Notice 23, Session 2005-06

1 March 2006

PASC to question Foreign Secretary on Diplomats’ Memoirs

On Tuesday 7 March PASC-the Public Administration Select Committee-will be taking evidence in public on its inquiry into the Publication of Political Memoirs from the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Rt Hon Jack Straw MP. The Committee will also be taking evidence from former Cabinet Minister and prolific diarist, Rt Hon Tony Benn.

Three recently retired diplomats have written their memoirs over the last year, although only one - Sir Christopher Meyer - has published their text. Mr Straw has been publicly critical of Sir Christopher’s decision to publish. The evidence session will allow the Committee to question Mr Straw about whether such books do damage to the relationship between Ministers and civil servants, and whether changes should be made to the processes for publishing such books.

Former special adviser, Dr Geoff Mulgan, has said that diary keeping is “corrosive” to good government. As an avid diary keeper whilst in public office, Mr Benn will be able to respond to this charge.

The evidence session will take place on Tuesday 7 March in Committee Room 8, Palace of Westminster, SW1.

2.30 p.m. Rt Hon Jack Straw MP

Approx 3.30 p.m. Rt Hon Tony Benn

Full details of the Committee’s inquiry can be found at www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/public_administration_select_committee/pascmemoirs.cfm

FURTHER INFORMATION:

The Committee was nominated on 13 July 2005.  Its terms of reference are to examine the reports of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsmen, and to consider matters relating to the quality and standards of administration provided by Civil Service departments, and other matters relating to the Civil Service. The Membership of the Committee is as follows: Tony Wright (Chairman) (Lab) (Cannock Chase), Mr David Burrowes (Con) (Enfield, Southgate), Paul Flynn (Lab) (Newport West), Julia Goldsworthy (Lib Dem) (Falmouth & Camborne), David Heyes (Lab) (Ashton under Lyne), Kelvin Hopkins (Lab) (Luton North), Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger (Con) (Bridgewater), Julie Morgan (Lab) (Cardiff North), Mr Gordon Prentice (Lab) (Pendle), Grant Shapps (Con) (Welwyn Hatfield), Jenny Willott (Lib Dem) (Cardiff Central)

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