Good news as number of ministers put under the spotlight

The Evening Standard has reported:

The Commons public administration committee, chaired by Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin, has launched an inquiry into “What ministers do?”

The MPs are investigating whether there are too many ministers, what they actually do, whether they should be appointed from Parliament or outside and the impact that the number of ministers has on the public purse and effective government if the number of MPs is cut from 650 to 600.

Mr Jenkin added: “Clearly if the House of Commons gets smaller and the number of paid ministers increases or stays the same, it means that the Government increases its control over the Commons which is meant to hold the Government to account.”

The last point is key: we get better government and better public services when Parliament can hold the government to account rather than be in thrall to it.

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6 Comments

  • Rabi Martins 15th Sep '10 - 10:33am

    I cant help but agree with the Mr Jenkin acomment : “Clearly if the House of Commons gets smaller and the number of paid ministers increases or stays the same, it means that the Government increases its control over the Commons which is meant to hold the Government to account. The last point is key: we get better government and better public services when Parliament can hold the government to account rather than be in thrall to it.

    I have also felt that the Party was wrong to take on so many junior ministerial positions. We should have stopped at the Cabinet posts and a couple of key ministerial positions where Liberal Democrats policies were being adopted

    That would have left us with enough back bench MPs to challenge the government. As it happens most of our senior MPs are tied to collective responsibility and effectively gagged. Not good for democracy and certanily not good for advancing the Liberal Democrats agenda

  • Entirely agree. Surely nobody (especially Liberal Democrats) wants an even stronger Executive and a weaker legislature? Yet, unless the proposal to cut the number of MPs is scrapped or the number of Ministers is reduced, that will be the effect of these reforms.

  • If the Government is serious about prioritising to the extent it will be able to reduce Whitehall staff by 25-40%, it will need to make a similarly large cut to the number of Ministers – Ministers generate huge amounts of work because they’re keen to make names for themselves.

    If you can’t cut Ministers by 40% then I strongly doubt that you can cut the officials who serve them directly by a significant number without (even more) half-baked schemes that end up costing the taxpayer ridiculous amounts because the risks and issues haven’t been worked through properly.

  • Terry Gilbert 16th Sep '10 - 10:18am

    @ Rabi – from the point of view of the party leadership, it makes perfect sense to take so many junior ministerial positions. It helps to ensure loyalty to a Government that many long serving party members and workers have deep reservations about.

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