Press Notice 4, Session 2005-06

Politics and Administration: Ministers and Civil Servants

PASC starts significant new inquiry

PASC - the Public Administration Select Committee - today announced that it is seeking public views on the relationship between Ministers and Mandarins.  It has generally been accepted that the Civil Service should be impartial - but is this really possible, or even desirable? 

• Should civil servants be more political, that is, more committed to the programme of the government of the day?

• Should politicians have more say over the appointment of public servants, particularly those advising them at a senior level?

In the ‘Issues and Questions’ consultation paper published today the Committee also asks:

• What is meant by ‘politicisation’?  Is it an entirely negative phenomenon?

• Should there be a greater or lesser role for those with political allegiance within the Civil Service?

In undertaking this inquiry the Committee will also consider the way other countries’ civil services are set up to ensure that policies are carried out, and how they appoint to public service posts.


The Committee is inviting written evidence from interested parties and will also hold evidence sessions to hear oral evidence from some of those who submit written evidence and from relevant officials.  The Issues and Questions paper can be found on the Committee website  Responses to the paper should be with the Committee by Friday 9th December.  Some respondents may wish to concentrate on those issues in which they have a special interest, rather than necessarily answering all the questions.

Evidence submitted should:

• be submitted as hard copy on A4 paper and as an electronic file also, by email to, or on computer disk in Rich Text Format, ASCII, WordPerfect 8 or Word. Hard copies should be sent to Eve Samson, Clerk, Public Administration Select Committee, Committee Office, First Floor, Committee Office, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA;

• have a covering letter containing your full postal address and contact details;

• any memorandum of more than ten pages should begin with a one page summary;

• avoid the use of colour or expensive-to-print material;

• further guidance on the submission of evidence can be found at

Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, either by printing the written evidence alongside the oral evidence or by making the evidence available through the Parliamentary Record Office.  If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure; the Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.

It would be helpful, for Data Protection purposes, if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details separately in a covering letter. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. 


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)

Media Enquiries: Jessica Bridges-Palmer, 020 7219 0718 / 07789 575520, email -

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

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