Former chiefs back Opposition contact with CS

The rules surrounding civil servants’ pre-election contacts with political parties should be rethought, two former cabinet secretaries have told CSW.

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By Joshua.Chambers

18 Nov 2013

Lord O’Donnell (pictured above left) has called for cross-party talks to resolve the matter. He pointed out that this is the first time the civil service has had to cope with a coalition government, so “my successor will have to come to a way of sorting out what to do if one of the parties wants advice that isn’t going to be copied to the other one.”

Lord Butler (pictured above right) said that as both coalition parties will receive advice, “this strengthens the case for widening the terms” of the discussions the civil service can have with the opposition – “both to create a more level playing field, and to help the opposition to be better prepared for government.”

Both men backed calls for the Office of Budget Responsibility to cost Labour’s manifesto.

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