Govt to appoint ethics adviser

The Government has pledged to appoint an ethics adviser in a bid to better define the boundaries between special advisers, ministers and civil servants.

The pledge has been included in the Government's response to the latest report by standards watchdog, the Committee of Standards in Public Life.

The committee was seeking to address issues raised following the Jo Moore affair, in which the former special adviser sought to 'bury bad news' in the aftermath of September 11.

In its response the Government also backed calls by the committee to appoint the UK's first civil service commissioner and a new section to the code of conduct for special advisers to clarify their role in government. A civil service act has also been promised although no timetable has been set.

Committee chair Sir Nigel Wicks has, however, criticised the Government for not backing all the committee's recommendations.

Wicks said that it was a missed opportunity 'to enhance public trust in the processes of government'.

He was particularly critical of the Government's refusal to curb the powers of the Prime Minister's chief of staff Jonathan Powell.

Meanwhile former BBC political journalist Nicholas Jones will today (Friday 12 September) call for major reforms in the way government information is communicated to the media.

At a Hansard Society meeting Jones will call for the Government to set new standards in the simultaneous release of information, particularly in respect of the Sunday papers.

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