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Lords Constitution Committee to hear from journalists and arms-length bodies on accountability of civil servants

The House of Lords Constitution Committee will this week take evidence from a panel of prominent political journalists, and representatives from the Office of Fair Trading, HM Revenue and Customs and the Valuation Office Agency, as part of their inquiry into the accountability of civil servants.

The Committee will hear evidence first from:

  • Daniel Finkelstein, Executive Editor and Chief Leader Writer at The Times;
  • Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor at The Daily Telegraph; and
  • David Hencke, Westminster Correspondent at The Tribune.

The Journalists will be asked for their perspective on the how civil service accountability to ministers and Parliament operates and what impact the Government's recent civil service reform plan will have.

The Committee will then hear from:

  • Philip Collins, Chairman of the Office of Fair Trading;
  • Mike Clasper, Chairman of HM Revenue and Customs; and
  • Penny Ciniewicz, Chief Executive of the Valuation Office Agency. 

The witnesses will be asked how their organisations ensure they are appropriately accountable to the public and Parliament without being headed by a minister and whether the boards of non-ministerial departments are sufficiently empowered to provide an adequate level of accountability for their departments' work. They will also be questioned on the extent of ministerial involvement in their organisations' activities. 

The first evidence session with the journalists will start at 10:30am and the second with the arm's-length bodies at around 11.15am on Wednesday 4 July in Committee Room 1 of the House of Lords, and will be webcast live at

The evidence session is also open to the public. Journalists wishing to attend should go to Parliament's Cromwell Green Entrance and should allow time for security screening.

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