Rift opens within Public Administration Select Committee between chair and committee member

A member of the Public Administration Select Committee last week stormed out of a hearing and criticised chair Bernard Jenkin MP.


By Joshua.Chambers

16 May 2014

Paul Flynn MP walked out after Jenkin (pictured) intervened to stop him from asking head of the civil service Sir Bob Kerslake questions about an article Kerslake had co-written about Margaret Thatcher.

Flynn was trying to demonstrate politicisation in the civil service, during an inquiry into civil servants’ involvement in the upcoming Scottish referendum. 

Flynn afterwards wrote on his blog that “I walked out of the PASC having been gagged by the chairman. It was a protest against the degradation of the committee from its high function into a personalized [sic] campaigning weapon for the prejudices of the chairman.” He added that the committee no longer seeks reforms in a “practical, non-partisan spirit”, and is not committed to “scholarly, rational inquiry”.

Bernard Jenkin responded that Flynn’s comments are “the view of only one member of a committee of 11. I leave it to others to judge how even-handed we are.”

He added that the blog was prompted by his decision to stop Flynn from pursuing a line of enquiry that he had already pursued. “I treat all members of the committee equally and if they wander too far off the point, it’s my job to bring them back or move onto the next questions.”

“I don’t want the committee to be used as a grandstand for individual members to publicise their own views when we have a job of work to do,” Jenkin said.

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