CS chiefs resist Jenkin’s calls for royal commission on civil service

Cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood and head of the civil service Sir Bob Kerslake have told MPs they do not believe there is a need for a royal commission to examine the future of the civil service and its relationship with ministers and Parliament.

By CivilServiceWorld

26 Apr 2013

At a Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) hearing last week, committee chair Bernard Jenkin said the committee is getting “an increasing [amount] of evidence, public and private, suggesting we need to have a much more comprehensive look at the strategic direction of our governmental system”. He suggested a panel with a similar remit to that of the 1965 Fulton Committee.

Jenkin asked Heywood and Kerslake whether, given the complex challenge facing government and the apparent tensions between ministers and civil servants, it’s time to establish “some kind of royal commission or parliamentary commission” .

Heywood noted that this would be a decision for ministers, but cautioned that “the really important thing” is to isolate the weaknesses of the civil service; to have “urgent plans to rectify those problems”; and to deal with longer-term capacity issues “so that we can, as far as we can predict, deal with some of the issues that will confront us” in the future.

He cautioned against “anything that’s distracting from that very urgent and important task, at a time when the country is facing major economic and fiscal challenges”.

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