Adversarial politics, ministerial ego and short-termism related to the 5 year cycle of elections have devastated the machinery of Government which has been made progressively more complex – and expensive – over the last century.
Our main reform will be to reverse this. Permanently. And quite quickly. And we must deal with the problems of misinformation and lack of transparency in order to ensure that the press and electorate are fully informed and engaged in holding the government to account.
It is not a constitutional requirement that the cabinet is made up of MPs and this is a peculiarly British habit that puts party hacks rather than experts in charge of huge government departments. We will make ministerial appointments apolitical and on merit and adopt the UK Code of Corporate Governance for Government Departments
We will not make Ministerial appointments immediately on taking office. First we will require within 30 days a published report from each department, without ministerial input, on proposed initiatives to simplify, to improve customer service and to reduce cost. This will allow us all to judge the ambition and capability of the Permanent Secretaries who we wish to become effectively the Chief Executives of their departments
We will hold all-party discussions on revised parliamentary procedures to remove the adversarial approach. We will appoint a Cabinet with a representative spread of political opinion and with technical competence. Ministers will act as Chairmen while the (Civil Service) Chief Executives will run their departments subject to a Schedule of Matters Reserved to the Board (ensuring that all major strategic decisions are made by the minister, cabinet or Parliament). In particular they will be responsible for performance, and proposing strategy. This unshackling of the Civil Service from chaotic political interference will release a torrent of improvement, cost reduction and simplification such as that seen when BT was privatised.
The Cabinet will review initiatives proposed by departments and pass them to Parliament for approval. We will require departments to operate transparently and listen to press comment. Annual reports will allow the public to judge how well their government departments are performing.
In the longer term we will continue to improve with a special focus on simplification and cost reduction with the aim of significantly reducing Government spending as a % of GNP. But we will not achieve that in one parliamentary term.