Public Administration Select Committee

8 March 2010


The Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) will this week hold a one-off evidence session on the state of government with former Minister Lord Sainsbury, former Permanent Secretary Sir Richard Mottram, and Jonathan Baume, General Secretary of the FDA union of senior civil servants.

The session will explore criticisms that all three witnesses (or the organisations they are associated with) have made in recent months about the quality of government, based in large part on their analysis of long-standing problems with the way that British government works:

€ The Institute for Government, founded and chaired by Lord Sainsbury, has criticised what it sees as a "gap at the centre of Whitehall€”a conspicuous lack of a single coherent strategy for government as a whole". It has proposed greater powers for the Cabinet Office and for departmental boards so that the work of government can be better coordinated and guided by a clear strategic direction.

€ The Better Government Initiative, of which Sir Richard Mottram is a member, is a group of eminent former senior civil servants including Lord Butler, Sir John Chilcot, Sir Christopher Foster and Sir Thomas Legg. It has been critical of the tendency toward 'sofa government' in recent years, and calls for rigorous processes to be put in place to promote more thorough and well-informed policy making.

€ Jonathan Baume has attacked the "utterly dysfunctional" way in which the centre of government currently works, arguing that unclear and confused decision making in Downing Street has paralysed government.

The session will be held on Thursday 11th March, at 10.00am in the Thatcher Room, Portcullis House.

For further information about the work of the Committee, visit our website at:


Committee Membership: Tony Wright (Chairman) (Lab) (Cannock Chase), Mr David Burrowes (Con) (Enfield, Southgate), Paul Flynn (Lab) (Newport West), David Heyes (Lab) (Ashton under Lyne), Kelvin Hopkins (Lab) (Luton North), Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger (Con) (Bridgwater), Julie Morgan (Lab) (Cardiff North), Mr Gordon Prentice (Lab) (Pendle), Paul Rowen (Lib Dem) (Rochdale), Charles Walker (Con) (Broxbourne), Jenny Willott (Lib Dem) (Cardiff Central)

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