Memorandum by the Cabinet Office (NC 1)
1. This Memorandum provides background information
on the role and priorities of the Deputy Prime Minister and the
Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of
Lancaster, the Rt Hon Lord Macdonald of Tradeston CBE.
2. It also briefly discusses the ways in
which the role of the Cabinet Office has developed since the election,
and how the arrival of the Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Macdonald
and the new units that report to them have strengthened its capacity
to provide strategic direction at the centre of Government.
3. A description of the post-election roles
and responsibilities of each of the Cabinet Office Ministers and
of Sir Richard Wilson (answer of 11 July 2001 to Parliamentary
Question from Andrew Lansley MP) is attached at Annex A for information.
A brief description of the aims of the two key new units within
the Cabinet Office (the Delivery Unit and the Office of Public
Service Reform) is also provided at Annex B.
4. The primary role of the Cabinet Office
is to support collective government and the delivery of the Government's
key priorities. As the Prime Minister has made clear since the
election, the key priority for this term is to reform and modernise
the country's vital public services and redesign them around the
customer. The Government's strategy is built on the Prime Minister's
four key principles.
a national framework of standards
within that framework, devolution
of power to frontline professionals, enabling local leaders to
innovate and develop new services.
better and more flexible rewards
and conditions of service for front line staff.
more choice for the consumers of
public services and the ability, if provision falls below acceptable
standards, to have an alternative provider.
5. In order to support this, the Cabinet
Office has been strengthened by the creation of the Office of
the Deputy Prime Minister which works closely with the Prime Minister's
own office in playing a central role in ensuring that the Government's
strategic objectives are met. The Committee had made a number
of recommendations along these lines in the report "Making
Government Work" which advocated the strengthening of the
Cabinet Office and its ability to play that role.
The Role of the Deputy Prime Minister and the
operation of his Office
6. The Deputy Prime Minister deputises for
the Prime Minister at home and abroad as required. He has an over-arching
responsibility for supporting the Prime Minister in the delivery
of key Government priorities and programmes, and he takes on specific
tasks at the request of the Prime Minister. In addition he has
a number of personal priorities and cross-departmental responsibilities
which are set out below. He is supported by the office of the
Deputy Prime Minister which has been formed largely by bringing
together a number of existing Units within the Cabinet Office
and by the transfer of responsibility for the Regional Co-ordination
Unit and the Government Offices for the Regions. These changes
help meet the Committee's call in "Making Government Work"
for improved co-ordination of policy.
7. The Deputy Prime Minister supports the
Prime Minister in the delivery of Government priorities through,
amongst other things, his chairmanship of a number of key Cabinet
Committees. These include new Committees on Domestic Affairs and
on Nations and the Regions, new sub-Committees on Social Exclusion
and Regeneration and on Energy Policy and the existing Committee
on the Environment.
8. In addition his responsibilities include:
Social Exclusionthe Prime
Minister has asked the Deputy Prime Minister to take the lead
on tackling social exclusion. The Social Exclusion Unit reports
Deputy Prime Minister is responsible for overseeing the delivery
of Government programmes regionally and locally. The Regional
Co-ordination Unit and the Government Offices report to him.
Regional GovernanceThe Prime
Minister has asked the Deputy Prime Minister to produce a White
Paper on Regional Governance, in close liaison with the Secretary
of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions.
International Matters and Climate
Changethe Deputy Prime Minister deputises for the Prime
Minister on international matters, helping to build and maintain
close relations with foreign counterparts. He also continues to
play a role on international climate change discussions and negotiations
on behalf of the Prime Minister.
Devolution and the British Irish
CouncilThe Deputy Prime Minister oversees the ongoing implementation
of the devolution settlements. He also carries Ministerial responsibility
for the British Irish Council and attends meetings as necessary.
9. The cross-cutting nature of the responsibilities
of the Deputy Prime Minister mean that his Office works closely,
on a day to day basis, with many other parts of the Cabinet Office,
with No.10 and with other Central Government Departments. In cases
where a lead department exists (for example, DEFRA in the case
of Climate Change, DTLR in the case of regional policy) that Department
retains policy responsibility and deals with day to day progress
and implementation, while the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
works closely with them on strategic and cross-departmental issues.
The Role of Lord Macdonald
10. Lord Macdonald, as Minister for the
Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has day-to-day
responsibility for the work of the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit,
for which he reports to the Prime Minister. Where the role of
the Deputy Prime Minister in helping to deliver key Government
objectives is broad and strategic, Lord Macdonald focuses on specific
aspects of delivery, including the four key priorities of education,
health, crime and transport.
11. Where cross-cutting issues arise which
are of interest to both the Deputy Prime Minister and Lord Macdonald
they work closely to ensure a co-ordinated outcome. The responsibilities
of the Deputy Prime Minister, for example for the Regional Co-ordination
Unit, also mean that he can assist in ensuring that the recommendations
of the Units under Lord Macdonald's direction are implemented
on the ground.
12. Lord Macdonald is responsible for the
work of the Regulatory Impact Unit (RIU), which amongst other
things supports the Better Regulation Task force. Lord Macdonald
is also responsible for the work of the Office of the E-Envoy
(OeE) on electronic government including the drive to get all
Government services online by 2005. The work of these Units complements
Lord Macdonald's responsibilities for delivery in several areas.
For example, the RIU Public Sector Team works to reduce red tape
affecting frontline public servants.
The Role of the Cabinet Office at the Centre of
Government and Implications for the Modernising Government Agenda
13. The appointment of the Deputy Prime
Ministerthe "powerful Cabinet Minister" at the
head of the Cabinet Office for which the Committee calledand
the broad range of his responsibilities has resulted in a number
of changes in Cabinet Office which address the Committee's concerns.
These changes have, as intended, resulted in a strengthening and
deepening of the relationship between Cabinet Office and No.10.
They have built on the capacity of the Cabinet Office to provide
a strategic lead at the centre of Government and have given greater
strength to Cabinet government and the committee system. The breadth
of the Deputy Prime Minister's responsibilities leaves him well
placed to play a key role in delivering the Government's objectives
and improving the delivery of public services.
14. These, and other structural changes
within the Cabinet Office, have also taken the Department forward
into the second phase of the Modernising Government programme.
In the first phase the Government made significant progress on
a number of fronts including the introduction of Public Service
Agreements, the introduction of the Civil Service Reform Agenda
and the introduction of e-services. The second stage of modernisation
will be spearheaded by the two key new Units within the Cabinet
Office (see Annex B). The Office of Public Sector Reform, in particular,
will provide a new perspective and additional expertise in taking
forward the Civil Service reform programme and demonstrates the
Government's determination to ensure that the reform of public
services is kept at the top of the agenda.