Select Committee on Public Administration Eighth Report



An Erosion of Standards in the Civil Service

      • We are extremely concerned at the evidence that permanent civil servants in DTLR maliciously leaked information and misinformation about the activities of Jo Moore, in such a way as to damage her reputation and that of the Secretary of State. We consider these leaks to be a very serious breach of the principles of public service, and a threat to the reputation of the permanent Civil Service. We urge the Government to pursue rigorous disciplinary action against any civil servant, in any department, who is found guilty of such behaviour (paragraph 52).
      • We recommend that the Government should review the present system by which civil servants can raise their concerns, with the aim of making it simpler and less potentially intimidating for the complainant (paragraph 53).
    1. Reducing the Grey Areas: Clearer Boundaries for Special Advisers

      Reviewing Government Communications

      • We believe that, five years after the Mountfield Report examined the operation of government information services, a radical external review of Government communications would be of great value, and we so recommend. The review should examine not only the effectiveness of the Government Information and Communication Service, but also the roles played by other civil servants and special advisers who have a responsibility for communications. This should clarify the boundaries between the work that is appropriate to special advisers and work that is not appropriate to them (paragraph 64).
    2. Recruitment and Training of Special Advisers

      • We re-iterate the recommendation of the Committee in its Fourth Report of 2000-01 that special adviser posts should be publicly advertised and Ministers given a final choice between suitably qualified candidates. We welcome the Government's intention to provide induction training for new special advisers, and urge that existing advisers should be also kept up to date with developments in public service through a programme of continuing training, with a special focus on the machinery of government and the standards expected of public servants (paragraph 68).
    3. When Things Go Wrong: The Need for a Better System

      • We recommend that the Government should review the system for handling disputes which may arise between Ministers, special advisers and career civil servants. This should in future make clear who has final responsibility for disciplinary matters and should also clarify the role of the Prime Minister in the process of resolving disagreements involving special advisers.




      Freedom of Information

      • We consider that departments should be obliged to draw up a plan showing how they will publicise the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act in their own areas of responsibility (paragraph 72).


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