Public Administration Select Committee

Session 2002-03

Press Notice No.7


Tony Wright MP, Chairman of PASC -- the Public Administration Select Committee -- today welcomed Government moves to clarify relationships between ministers, special advisers and the civil service.

The Government today published its response (Cm 5756) to a PASC report on the "Unfortunate Events" at the press office of the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions in 2001B02 (HC 303). The response accepted a series of PASC recommendations, including a call for a radical external review of government communications.

Dr Wright commented:

"The Government's positive response to our Report is welcome and timely. In agreeing to a radical review of government information services, it has recognised, as we did, that those who speak for ministers must have the public interest as their first priority. All of them, politically appointed or not, are servants of the public, and there must be no tolerance of those who pursue sectional interests and personal agendas. Neither must the media forget the need to report fairly and honestly. The ethos of public service was severely damaged during the troubles at DTLR --the Government (and the Civil Service) cannot afford another such disaster.

"We are also glad that the Government is to clarify the rules about disputes in which special advisers are involved, and has begun to establish a more developed system of training for special advisers. That will be welcomed on all sides.

"I hope that, together with Bob Phillis's team, the Government will be able to put in place a professional framework that will ensure honesty as well as competence. The public expect, and deserve, no less. As we say in our Report, the Government should play it straight and the media should play it fair. That should be the basis for a new relationship between government and media, to the great benefit of the public".

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For further information please telephone Philip Aylett, Clerk of the Committee on 020 7219 3268

Tony Wright may be contacted for press inquiries on 020 7219 5583

Publications and evidence, including uncorrected evidence by Government Ministers, is also available on the Internet at

(Publications appear under 'Select Committee on Public Administration Reports' with 'reports' listed last, after 'uncorrected evidence' and 'oral evidence')

For information regarding forthcoming meetings including venues and times please call the House of Commons Committee Information Line on 020 7219 2033 (updated daily).

Click above for the Government's Response (Cm 5756)
Click above for the Government's Response (Cm 5756