Select Committee on Public Administration Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by the Ministry of Defence

Thank you for your letter of 16 February 2000 to Geoff Hoon regarding the Select Committee on Public Administration's inquiry into "Innovations in Public Participation". I am replying as the Minister responsible for public service matters in the Ministry of Defence.

  The Ministry of Defence is committed to following best practice in public consultation. The Department has been made widely aware of Cabinet Office guidance on conducting public consultations, though in practice few areas of MOD are engaged in the sort of work that requires public consultation in the sense of that guidance. Consultation with the Trade Unions is, however, commonplace.

  You asked in your letter for information on:

    —  innovative approaches to public consultation used since 1997 (purpose, method, response, level and outcomes), including specific examples;

    —  ways in which decision-making processes have been adapted to take account of public consultation; and

    —  lessons learned regarding good (and bad) practice in consultation.

  I am submitting two case studies for the Ministry of Defence (see Annexes A and B), which are the consultation processes for the Strategic Defence Review and for the drawing up of the Defence Estate Strategy. The consultation process for the latter is still underway, prior to the publication of the Strategy, planned for this summer.

  The overarching lesson we have learned from both these consultation exercises is that whilst involving ouside interested groups in the policy process is not always easy to manage, it does improve the quality of policy making by accessing new ideas and a wider pool of expertise. It can also reduce conflict and give the final outcome a sense of common ownership and a greater degree of credibility.

  I hope the Select Committee will find this information helpful.

Dr Lewis Moonie MP

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State

5 April 2000

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