Letter from Sir Richard Wilson (NC2)
During my evidence session to the Committee
on 1 November, I promised to provide some further information
to the Committee.
I was asked about the appointment of special
advisers in the devolved administrations. Special advisers working
to Ministers in the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly
for Wales are members of the Home Civil Service and their appointment
is therefore a reserved matter. In the absence of a special provision,
therefore, the Prime Minister would be expected formally to approve
their appointment as he does the appointment of special advisers
to UK Ministers. In order to reflect the spirit of devolution,
however, an amendment was made to the Civil Service Order in Council
to allow Ministers in the devolved administrations to appoint
a limited number of special advisers without the need to refer
individual cases to the Prime Minister for approval.
The Order in Council allows for up to 12 advisers
in Scottish Parliament and up to six advisers in the National
Assembly for Wales. So long as the devolved Administrations stay
within the upper limit on numbers and the appointments are made
in line with the terms of the Model Contract for Special Advisers,
the Prime Minister would not expect to become involved in the
appointment process. I do not have a role in the appointment process.
At 1 November, there were 11 special advisers working to Ministers
in the Scottish Parliament and five working to Ministers in the
National Assembly for Wales.
The Committee also asked for a note on the issue
of disciplining special advisers. The position is as set out in
my evidence to you on 1 November and by my predecessor to the
Committee on 21 November 1997. Personnel management of the Civil
Service is delegated from the Crown to the Minister and from the
Minister to the Departmental Permanent Secretary except to the
extent that it involves the use of resources, for which the Accounting
Officer has to account to the Public Accounts Committee. The Minister
can of course withdraw the delegation and exercise it himself
if he so wishes.
All special advisers are appointed under terms
and conditions set out in the Model Contract for Special Advisers.
Decisions on disciplining special advisers will be taken in accordance
with the disciplinary procedures of the employing Department set
out in Departmental Staff Handbooks in consultation with the appointing
I was also asked what training we were planning
to "build in delivery" and offered to provide some information.
Attached as an annex is a note on what the Centre for Management
and Policy Studies are doing in this area.
I was grateful to the Select Committee for spotting
an error in the organisation chart for the Cabinet Office which
we sent to you. It is now shown correctly on the Cabinet Office
site on the Internet. I will be sending you separately the organisation
chart for No 10.
Responses from the Government to the three Committee
reports where we promised a reply have now been sent to the Committee.