|Jenkin calls for new rules system for ex-ministers and civil servants|
|Wednesday, 25 July 2012 00:00|
The Public Administration Select Committee (PASC), chaired by Bernard Jenkin MP, has called for the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACoBA), which oversees former ministers and civil servants moving from Government to private sector posts, to be replaced by an independent ethics commissioner.
In its latest report, 'Business Appointment Rules', published on 25th July, PASC found that ACoBA lacks adequate powers and resources; does not have appropriate membership for its function; and should be abolished. Instead, PASC recommends the Government should legislate to establish statutory ethics regulation with a code of conduct and enforceable statutory penalties, overseen by an independent ethics Commissioner. Enforceable statutory penalties should be introduced for failing to comply with the Commissioner’s recommendations.
Mr Jenkin commented:
"Civil service reforms and changes to public service provision mean there will only be more interchange between Government and the private and voluntary sectors - which can be a very good thing. It is very much in the public interest to exchange valuable skills and knowledge. But the current system of rules governing the so-called ‘revolving door’ between business and Government does not command public confidence and needs to be reformed.
“Because of confusion about the rules and the opaque way ACoBA administers the system, individuals who have observed the rules and procedures are still subject to savage media criticism about the appointments they take up, leading to unfair and potentially irreversible damage to their reputations. Government should be much more robust in countering such reports.
“ACoBA does what it says on the tin – it is only ‘advisory’ and has no statutory powers and functions to do what is increasingly expected. It should be replaced with a system of clear, statutory regulation, with enforceable penalties, overseen by an independent ethics Commissioner with the power to initiate his or her own investigations. It would also be rational to give this same commissioner responsibility for overseeing the Ministerial Code. The proper and ethical conduct of public office holders is very important to the British public, an independent ‘watchdog’ with some teeth is necessary to command their confidence."
PASC's report, 'Business Appointment Rules', can be read in full at the following link: