MPs widen civil service inquiry amid "significant" Brexit challenges

Public Administration Committee says vote to leave the EU means it is "all the more important that the civil service is clear about its mission and role"

By Civil Service World

14 Nov 2016

MPs have added Whitehall's readiness for Brexit to the list of issues they will investigate in their wide-ranging new inquiry into the civil service.

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee announced a fresh look at the structure, skills and capacity of the civil service earlier this year, and took their first evidence – from former cabinet secretary Lord O'Donnell – last week.

PACAC has now announced that it is widening the terms of reference for its inquiry and extending the deadline for written submissions to take into account Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

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In a statement, the committee said the Brexit vote had "significant implications for Whitehall", with the civil service now facing "new challenges and a host of tasks", including negotiating the UK's departure from the bloc; formulating a new British trade policy; and taking back responsibility for policy in areas including agriculture and financial services.

The committee said Brexit would also require the civil service to consider how the return of powers from the EU would affect relations between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

"These challenges make it all the more important that the civil service is clear about its mission and role, and that it understands the principles upon which it is based and the institutional framework within which it operates," the committee said. "They also mean that it is essential that issues affecting civil service effectiveness and capabilities are addressed."

PACAC will now take further written submissions through its official parliamentary website until December 20.

Civil service chief executive John Manzoni last week said he believed the civil service was already doing "30% too much" before the European Union referendum, and called on Whitehall's leaders to reprioritise in the wake of the vote.

"The fact is we need to go back, we need to re-plan, we need to be realistic, we can't do it all – it won't all happen within the existing envelope," he said.


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