New inquiry: impact and effectiveness of ministerial reshuffles

18 May 2012

The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee has decided to hold a new inquiry into the impact and effectiveness of ministerial reshuffles. 

The Committee is issuing a call for written evidence that addresses some or all of the following points:

The impact of ministerial reshuffles

1. What are the main reasons for reshuffles? 
2. What impact do reshuffles have on:
a) policy making and delivery
b) the ability of Parliament to hold Government to account 
c) the authority of the Prime Minister
d) the effectiveness of the Government
e) the civil service

The reshuffle process

3. What is the process involved when a Prime Minister decides to undertake a reshuffle? Who advises him/her?  What are the timescales involved?  How could the process be improved?
4. Does the prerogative power to hire and fire Ministers need to be placed on a statutory footing?
5. Should Parliament have any role in endorsing the appointment of senior Ministers?
6. What effect does a coalition Government have on reshuffles?
7. What consideration is given in the reshuffle process to the appropriate number of ministerial posts relative to the size of the House of Commons, and to the work that needs to be undertaken?
8. How is the performance of MPs and their suitability for ministerial office, or promotion to a more senior ministerial post, assessed?   What is the role of the Whips in this process?   How could this process be improved?

Committee Chair, Graham Allen MP, said

"Nothing is more disruptive of the development of  ministerial competence, the proper direction of the civil service, sustainable accountability to parliament, the  legitimate check on Prime Ministerial power, and above all long-termism in policy, than the permanent expectation and reality of the reshuffle. It is the territory of fidgety prime ministers and media-driven short termism not the province of good governance."

How to respond to this paper

The deadline for written submissions is Thursday 26 July 2012.  Submissions should not significantly exceed 3,000 words unless this has been cleared in advance with the Committee secretariat.  Written responses to the Committee will be treated as evidence to the Committee and may be published. If you object to your response being made public in a volume of evidence, please make this clear when it is submitted.

  • Responses should be submitted by email in Microsoft Word (no pdfs please) or rich text format to
  • If you do not have access to email, you may send a paper copy of your response to the Clerk of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, Committee Office, First Floor, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA.

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