Memorandum by the Department for Culture,
Media and Sport
My Department and its many sponsored bodies have
used, during the past few years, a variety of novel approaches
to public consultation and participation. Five specific examples
I met the chairs and/or chief executives of
the Department's NDPBs before the Departmental Spending Review
announcement on 24 July 1998. In September 1998, Ministerially-led
seminars for broad, albeit invited, audiences took place in all
the English regions, organised jointly by my Department and the
regional cultural forumsinformal bodies drawn from the
range of DCMS areas of responsibility. Responses to the DSR consultation
document A New Cultural Framework were invited by e-mail
as well as in writing.
The national tourism strategy, launched in February
1999 in the document Tomorrow's Tourism, was drawn up with
help of a "Tourism Forum" and a series of specialist
Working Groups. The Forum, a 57-member body drawn from the many
constituent parts of the tourism and hospitality industry and
from organisations representing local authority, consumer, conservation
and other interests, met twice under my Chairmanship during 1998.
At the same time a series of Working Groups, each led by a Forum
member but drawing in expertise from other sources, looked in
more detail at particular issuesfor example business tourism,
visitor attractions, widening access, and the way the industry
presented itself to various audiencesand recommended actions
or objectives for inclusion in the strategy.
These recommendations were channelled through
a Strategic Planning Working Group, consisting of around a dozen
Forum members, which met monthly under my Chairmanship until the
end of 1998. Since the publication of Tomorrow's Tourism, the
Forum has been reconstituted and expanded under the auspices of
our NDPB, the English Tourism Council, to monitor implementation
of the strategy from the industry's point of view.
A few weeks ago, on 1 March, the British Library
held its first ever on line meeting to allow users and non-users
an opportunity to question the board and senior management on
the Library's operations and its recently published annual report.
This made the British Library the first DCMS sponsored body to
respond to the Open Government White Paper's call for publicly
open NDPB board meetings in this way. 300 users logged into the
site and 60 questions were answered in six hours, many more than
could have been accommodated in a traditional style Annual General
Meeting and at a fraction of the cost.
All four consultation documents issued by our
Libraries Division in 1999 were made available on the Department's
website as well in paper form.
The National Lottery Charities Board (NLCB)
uses a "selection by lot" process for identifying potential
Regional Awards Committee members. Following an evaluation in
two England regions (London and Yorkshire and Humberside), the
NLCB's Regional Awards Committees now select two committee members
by lot, using the Lottery draw numbers to identify potential members
from the electoral roll. Members chosen under this scheme are
recruited for an initial period of one year, to be extended up
to a maximum of six years depending on the rotation of other members
of the Committee.
You also asked about ways in which my Department's
decision-making processes have been adapted to take account of
public consultation, and about whether we have learned any lessons
in the sense of good, or bad, practice. As far as decision-making
processes are concerned, I can say that our thinking and decisions
have been genuinely influenced by the outcome of consultation.
Responses to our DSR consultation document, which I mentioned
above, showed that much of our thinking on modernising the administrative
structures in DCMS areas of responsibility was widely shared.
In some cases, however, where consultation responses strongly
supported alternative ideas, we significantly changed our ideasfor
example in the decision to keep the national tourism body for
England on a statutory footing.
As another example of how public involvement
has influenced the decision-making process, the "promoting
a sustainable approach" section in our Tomorrow's Tourism
strategy was formulated largely on the basis of responses to our
1998 consultation paper TourismTowards Sustainability.
This document was sent to some 8,000 interested individuals and
organisations, generating 322 responses containing around 4,700
individual suggestions or ideas for actionshowing the value
of involving the wider public in such exercises, rather than relying
every time on those with a special interest in the subject under
consideration. Responses to consultations which are too narrowly
distributed may not always be fully representative of the general
As to good and bad practice, we naturally seek
to avoid the bad and build on the good. We seek to learn from
the successful use of innovative methods by using them again.
In particular, we are now using the model of industry forums or
working groupssuch as the Tourism Forum I have described
abovemuch more widely. For example, we have established
the Creative Industries Task Force and the Music Industry Forum.
This represents a real partnership-based approach to developing
policy towards the industries for which my Department is responsible.
Should the Committee need further information,
I shall be happy to provide any help I can.
Secretary of State
31 March 2000