OPINION: Govt must deliver promised reform

The subject of Government credibility cropped up again this week, as the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) tired of waiting for Downing Street to publish the long-promised Civil Service Bill, putting the role and number of special advisers on a statutory footing.

PASC has come up with its own Bill, which it is now threatening to put into play via a Private Member's Bill in the House of Lords.

Limiting the number of special advisers may have no perceptible effect on the Government's ability to earn public trust. But the more likely outcome will be to increase transparency among those who brief the media on behalf of ministers.

Whether the best way to do this is by limiting their numbers or their roles remains to be debated. What must not be allowed to happen is that critics of abuse in the special adviser system be misconstrued as critics of the system itself. Too much is at stake for that.

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