Magazine article Public Finance

PASC Presses for MPs' Voting Rights on Whitehall Reorganisations

Magazine article Public Finance

PASC Presses for MPs' Voting Rights on Whitehall Reorganisations

Article excerpt

A Commons committee has broken with traditional protocol to restate its demand that Parliament be allowed to debate and vote on major Whitehall reorganisations.

The public administration select committee has repeatedly questioned whether the prime minister should continue to have 'near-absolute power' to reorganise Whitehall departments.

The renewed call came in a short report published alongside the government's response to an earlier document. Its publication on May 14 signalled the MPs' determination to pursue the issue - parliamentary committees usually publish government responses to their reports without comment

PASC chair Tony Wright told Public Finance: 'The major issue is that if the government wants to reorganise parts of the public sector there is very extensive public consultation, but if the government wants to reorganise itself [it happens with] one sweep of the prime ministerial pen.'

He added: 'The business of making big organisational changes comes with costs that have to be carefully considered.'

In its response, the government argues that 'the organisation and functions of a government department are fundamentally a reflection of the responsibilities of the minister in charge of the department', which in turn are determined by the prime minister. …

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