» Thursday, December 9, 2004

Butler Review

Asked what changes the Prime Minister had made to his style of government and government procedures in the wake of the Butler Review, the PMOS replied that as we had said when the report was published in July that we would take on the changes outlined in the Report. Minutes and records of meetings had been taken on board.

Asked if "taken on board" meant implementing too, the PMOS said it did, but he was not going to go as far as people wished by providing absolute records of every meeting.

Asked if the Prime Minister was making more use of Cabinet, and were there examples of votes and comprehensive discussions, the PMOS repeated his earlier answer in the morning, as the question betrayed a lack of understanding of how Cabinet arrived at its consensus. Cabinet discussed issues as they evolved, and the entire 5 year programme could not have evolved without significant discussions at a very early stage in the policy making process. This meant it came to be finalised, and all members of Cabinet were aware of the issues which lay behind the proposals. Many decisions had evolved from the early discussions, which proved the value of the way Cabinet discussed matters at present.

Asked if it would now be inconceivable if an issue, such as the Millennium Dome, where a majority of Cabinet took one position, but the minority view was the one that was taken, the PMOS said he was not around when the Millennium Dome issue arose, so he would not comment. However, he said the important thing was there was a clear pattern of bringing broad issues to Cabinet at an early stage so that everyone was aware of the issues involved in trying to move forward.

Asked if Cabinet Committees were being used, as specified in the Butler Review, the PMOS said there was a very active Cabinet Committee structure, and various members of the Cabinet, especially the Deputy Prime Minister, played an active role in that structure.

Asked if Cabinet "voted on things", the PMOS said Cabinet reached a consensus. Asked how long Cabinet lasted this morning, and what were the issues that were raised, the PMOS repeated his answer given earlier that Cabinet was just over an hour, and the issues raised were the events in Northern Ireland yesterday, and a presentation from Tessa Jowell.

Asked if the Prime Minister was seeing signs that the new way of working was resulting in improvements in the standard of Government, the PMOS replied that people should look at the succession of 5 years plans to see how they had helped the strategic shape of government.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news

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