PASC PN 8 2004-05

Session 2004-05

Press Notice 8


PASC-the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee-today urges the Government to redeem its pledge to introduce a Civil Service Bill as soon as possible.

In a new Report (HC 336) PASC says that there is a new consensus for legislation to ensure that Parliament can act as a guarantor of the values of the Civil Service. The Committee also voices its confidence that a Civil Service Act would not hamper necessary change and reform of the public services.

Among the main points of the Report, which is a response to the Government's consultation on its draft Bill, are that the Committee:

·    welcomes the Government's draft Bill because it maintains the momentum towards legislation, possibly early in the next Parliament;

·    still advocates full Parliamentary debate on and approval of the text of the Civil Service Code. The Government proposes that Parliament should be given the low-key scrutiny of a "negative resolution" procedure, which would not involve a debate;

·    still believes, contrary to the Government's opinion, that the Civil Service Commission should be given the power to conduct inquiries on its own initiative into the operation of the Civil Service Code;

·     agrees with the Government that there should be greater clarity about what special advisers can and cannot do in departments; and

·    insists, against the Government's view, that Ministers should seek the approval of Parliament for the total number of special advisers. 

The Committee concludes by saying of the Government's draft Bill: "Although we believe that it is capable of improvement in the ways we suggest, its implementation will represent a significant constitutional moment. We would expect this moment to come in the first session of the next Parliament".

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For further information please telephone Philip Aylett, Clerk of the Committee on 020 7219 3498.  Tony Wright may be contacted for press inquiries on 020 7219 5583.

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

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

NOTE FOR EDITORS: The Committee was nominated on 16 July 2001.  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 members are:

Tony Wright (Chairman) (Lab) (Cannock Chase)
Annette Brooke (Lim Dem) (Mid Dorset and Poole North)
Mrs Anne Campbell (Lab) (Cambridge)
Sir Sydney Chapman (Con) (Chipping Barnet)
Mr David Heyes (Lab) (Ashton under Lyne)
Mr Kelvin Hopkins (Lab) (Luton North)
Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger (Con) (Bridgewater)
Mr Gordon Prentice (Lab) (Pendle)
Hon Michael Trend (Con) (Windsor)
Brian White (Lab) (Milton Keynes North East)
Iain Wright (Lab) (Hartlepool