Members present:
              Tony Wright, in the Chair
              Mr David Lammy
              Mr David Lepper
              Mr Michael Trend
              Mr Neil Turner
                 LORD FALCONER OF THOROTON, QC, a Member of the House of Lords, Minister
           of State, Cabinet Office, (Lords), examined.
        1095.    Could I welcome everyone to the Committee and welcome, in
  particular, our witness for this session, Lord Falconer.  We wanted to explore
  with Lord Falconer some of the issues to do with the co-ordination of
  Government programmes, particularly between the national level and the
  regional and local level for which you have acquired, amongst all your other
  responsibilities, responsibility.  We may stray into other territory but that
  is our main focus.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Sure.
        1096.    Thank you for coming along. Would you like to say something
  by way of introduction?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Very briefly.  The Committee has
  expressed interest in particular Government Offices and regional co-
  ordination, though I think that your interest in co-ordination may go beyond
  simply the Government Offices and the Regional Co-ordination Unit.  I hope
  that you have seen copies of the Action Plan that the Regional Co-ordination
  Unit produced last October. It may help if I just say a very few words about
  the Regional Co-ordination Unit and its approach.  A Performance and
  Innovation Unit Report about the role of Central Government at regional and
  local level was published in February of last year. In a nutshell that Report
  suggested we were not making enough of the opportunity offered by Government
  Offices. We accepted the recommendations of the Report and I was given
  responsibility for following it through. The core of the Regional Co-
  ordination Unit was established in April of last year. This stepped up a gear
  when it had a Director-General appointed, who is Rob Smith, who is there, who
  was appointed in mid July, and the Action Plan was produced in October.  The
  core work of the Unit is to integrate Government Offices more effectively,
  both with other regional representatives in central Government and with the
  development of policy in Whitehall. In both respects we believe that the
  Government Office had been an under used resource for quite some time.  We are
  getting on with establishing Government Offices as broader based
  representatives of Government in the region. For example, next month MAFF
  officials will join Government Offices for the first time. I think the
  Committee has been to visit a Government Office in the North East.
        1097.    We have.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Or the Government Office of the North
  East.  A series of other initiatives such as the Connections Service, which
  is trying to bring together people who are involved in problem young people,
  are also joining the Government Offices and Government Offices will also have
  a key role in the new Neighbourhood Renewal Policy and in dealing with local
  government. The other task, apart from developing the role of Government
  Office, the unit has been given is better co-ordination of area based
  initiatives. We are acutely conscious that many positive initiatives can make
  competing over-bureaucratic demands on local partners. Our intention is to
  link up initiatives and simplify their management structures.  Our first step
  has been to establish arrangements which ensure that any new initiatives, any
  developed after consultation with the Government Offices and with the Regional
  Co-ordination Unit, is something the Performance and Innovation Report
  recommended but it is only the beginning. Both before and after the
  publication of the Action Plan we have been getting out and about talking to
  interested parties both in Whitehall and at the receiving end, at regional and
  sub-regional level. These common sense proposals have met with general support
  and in my view represent a sensible way of modernising and joining up the way
  Government works. Not only are we joining up activity in the regions but that
  process hopefully is percolating back to Whitehall. It complements initiatives
  taken at the centre to promote joint working.
        1098.    Thank you very much for that.  So we are up to speed I see
  looking at the speech you gave. I read all your speeches.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    You may be the only person who does.
        1099.    In a speech you gave on this in June last year, you say "We
  are further committed to having the main new arrangements coming out of the
  PIU Report in place by April 2001".
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.
        1100.    Is that still the case?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes, that is on course. We have now got
  a Unit that exists with an official head, Rob Smith.  We have got in place the
  proposals and guidance as to how area based initiatives should be dealt with. 
  The Unit is there, its structure is there, it has got a ministerial head. I
  report to the DPM but there is a huge amount of work to do to actually make
  the culture change it is seeking to achieve percolate through both at Central
  Government level and through to the Government Offices.
        1101.    Is there a responsible Minister in the Commons?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    The responsible Minister in the Commons
  will be Hiliary Armstrong. Although I am based in the Cabinet Office I report
  to the DPM and the person who speaks on behalf of the Unit in the Commons is
  Hiliary Armstrong.
        1102.    I am sure this is rather esoteric stuff but what was the
  thinking behind lodging your Unit in DETR, getting a Cabinet Office Minister
  doing it?  Does this not make it all rather confusing? Why is it not simply
  the Cabinet Office bringing together Government joined up enterprise?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Because, first of all, you need a group
  of officials who have got experience in dealing with the particular areas of
  activity that you want the Unit to deal with.  Local government is one area
  where the Unit will have considerable dealings. It will also have dealings
  with the Government Office, which is something the DETR has done in the past.
  We want to make it clear it is a cross-Government initiative.  This is not the
  only example of where there are officials in one department but a Minister in
  another.  Another example is the Children and Young Persons Unit which has
  Paul Boateng as the Minister who is in the Home Office but the officials are
  in the DfEE.  You choose the Department which has some synergy with what is
  going on but you put the Minister in a different department because then you
  get cross governmental binding.  It has not led to confusion. In relation to
  a department or a unit whose role is to try to get co-ordination across
  Government, it is quite useful that the Minister is in the Cabinet Office
  because you are not perceived to be biased in favour or against particular
        1103.    No. I was wondering really more why it was not just
  absolutely a Cabinet Office enterprise but, anyway, we do not need to explore
  that. Can I just go back to the problem to which you are the solution.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    I am not the solution but I am one of
  many steps taken to try to contribute to the solution.
        1104.    The Performance and Innovation Unit Report, Reaching Out, on
  all these areas, in a nutshell its conclusion was "It is an almighty mess",
  was it not?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    If you go on the ground you see a great
  collection of initiatives coming where people on the ground believe that
  sometimes the amounts of money they are bidding for are not worth the problem
  of applying, the monitoring arrangements are very heavy.  Too many people
  within communities are spending their time bidding and monitoring and too
  little time is spent actually making the contribution to the community that
  is required. You want to try to streamline what Central Government does and
  the demands it places on communities in the money it offers.
        1105.    The Report says "Clear evidence from those on the ground and
  from PIU's own analysis that there are too many Government initiatives causing
  confusion, not enough co-ordination and too much time spent on negotiating the
  system rather than delivering it".
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.
        1106.    Why did nobody think of this? Here is a Government which
  believes in doing good things and is doing many, many, many good things - let
  me go on the record - but it is doing it in a way that produces this. Why did
  nobody at the outset think should we join all this up?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Every Government, and in particular this
  one, is very, very keen to join things up. At the heart of the problem is that
  many of the things you are doing are intended to be targeted on particular
  bits of activity in particular places in the country. They are area based
  rather than national. That inevitably means you need some sort of bidding
  process.  Those initiatives, because of the nature of our Government, will
  come from the Education Department, the Health Department, the department
  responsible for law and order, and they will inevitably be targeted at
  particular places and particular fields of activity.  You could not just with
  a magic wand suddenly say "Here is X million for deprived areas, sort it out
  amongst yourselves" because inevitably you need to choose the places you would
  send it to and choose the areas you would send it to. There is an inherent
  problem there already. I think we have discovered as time has gone on that the
  bureaucratic burden that is raised by many of these area based initiatives may
  not be worth the trouble for quite a number of the people who apply for them.
        1107.    As somebody who has had to think their way through this, what
  have you learnt from this about the way in which we do Government that
  produces these consequences? Here you have a range of departments, it was like
  putting them all on the starting block, was it not, and off they went with
  their initiatives?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.
        1108.    All with different funding streams.  Despite the language of
  joined upness, it was not happening like that. Is there not something about
  Government from the centre which produces that kind of consequence?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    There will always be a tension, will
  there not, if you have a deprived area which has failed to thrive over a long,
  long period of time, there will be a temptation in the centre to think because
  it has failed to thrive it needs something from the outside to make it thrive. 
  From the local or sub-regional level there will be the sense only we
  understand what our problem is. It is the bringing together of those two
  pressures which will normally produce the best result, is it not?  The
  difficulty that we had to start with seems to me to be that we formulated
  policy too much by reference to individual departments but we remedied that
  quite quickly by, for example, the formulation of the Social Exclusion Unit
  which is a way of looking at policy formulation across Government. That does
  not deal with delivery across Government and that I think is what the
  Government Offices and their reformed role is trying to achieve.
        1109.    Is it not the case that if there are two forces that are
  driving this, one of which is centralism and is from the centre which will do
  good things and which will put all kinds of levers at the centre to produce
  good outcomes locally allied to a very strong departmentalism, those two
  things together will produce these kinds of consequences?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes, and they are dangerous and you need
  countervailing pressures in relation to then.  The Regional Co-ordination Unit
  is a countervailing pressure, the Social Exclusion Unit is a countervailing
  pressure.  A strong centre within Central Government is a countervailing
  pressure because there you are forcing Central Government departments to look
  at things in a holistic way rather than departmentally.  Just as important as
  that is a voice within Government that is well informed about what is
  happening regionally and sub-regionally and hopefully an improved position of
  the Government Offices provides a better informed voice within Central
  Government about what works on the ground and what is happening regionally and
        1110.    I think what I am putting to you is maybe there is a problem
  about the underlying strategy as opposed to simply how the outturn is. If I
  can just quote to you for a moment.  There was an interesting article by
  Matthew Taylor who runs IPR in the Financial Times on 27 February. His
  argument really is that the Government has given little attention to what he
  calls capacity building at a local level.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.
        1111.    It has all been done through dirigisme.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.
        1112.    Indeed, he says, just to quote him, "For every civil servant
  working to build the relationships on which successful change rests, there is
  a small army of legislation drafters, target setters and performance
  measurers". Is that not just the case?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    I do not think it is. I can give you
  chapter and verse of money that has been set aside in the Neighbourhood
  Renewal Fund in order to build capacity. One of the things that the Social
  Exclusion Unit's Study of the problems of Neighbourhood Renewal identified as
  a problem was building capacity sub-regionally to improve the plight of
  deprived communities. If you are saying there are too many targets, there are
  too many performance measures, there is too much bureaucracy, obviously that
  is right and one wishes to streamline it, but that does not get to the heart
  of the problem you are identifying, does it.  The heart of the problem one is
  identifying is one wants Central Government to look at the problem
  holistically, what the problem may be, and you want within Central Government
  there to be a proper connection with what is going on regionally and sub-
  regionally. So there is a dialogue where central Government acts - this is a
  paradigm - as one and is properly informed about what is going on locally.
        1113.    Yes.  We shall have to see whether you and your Unit are able
  to produce this change from the one model to the other, will we not?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    We will. I look slightly quizzical
  because I am not clear what is implicit in your question as to what the
  current model is?
        1114.    The current model I was suggesting to you was one that was
  dominated by nations of centralism and departmentalism and at the centre
  pulling levers and then things happening locally without much attempt to build
  local capacity then with the problems of co-ordination.  I take it your Unit
  is engaged in trying to sort that out?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    I agree.
        1115.    Finally on this, on the Unit, so we all get a sense of how
  this is to operate, is it simply the case that from now on no initiative will
  happen unless it gets past you?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    The Unit has set out guidance as to each
  area based initiative.  An area based initiative equals an initiative where
  there will be different amounts of money for different parts of the country.
  It is, as it were, money you have to bid for in a particular part of the
  country if you prove you have got particular characteristics that justify
  getting the money, so New Deal for Communities, Sure Start, that sort of area
  based initiative.  The process of getting governmental agreement to such an
  initiative has got to go through the Regional Co-ordination Unit which will
  examine the question how does this initiative fit in overall? Is it done in
  such a way that is most effective to deliver whatever aim it wishes to
  deliver? Does it impose too much of a bureaucratic burden? Can you ally it
  with other initiatives so you do not have too many initiatives. 
        1116.    So the answer to the question is, yes, it has to go through
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    The reason I am being slightly withdrawn
  about that is there may be reasons why, after having discussed all those, the
  benefits of the particular initiative are perceived to be such that it should
  go ahead come what may but basically in principle, yes.
        1117.    If people on the ground feel irked by some of these problems
  we have identified - co-ordination problems, over-regulation, over-reporting,
  all these things - are you a court of appeal? Can they come to you?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    The stage at which we would be involved
  would be before the initiative is announced.
        1118.    This is a new system.  I am talking about the world as it is
  now, with programmes in place.  Can people who are feeling the strain of some
  of this, experiencing some of these problems, come to you and say "Look, this
  needs sorting, we are just being asked to report too often, to bid too
  frequently"?  Can you sort all those people?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Prospectively in relation to new
  initiatives we can make a real difference.  Hopefully in relation to what is
  already there progress can be made in trying to reduce the sorts of burden you
  have referred to. Of course, it will be worthwhile raising these matters with
  the Regional Co-ordination Unit. It is really for the future, i.e. for new
  initiatives from the date that the Unit is set up that the Unit is intended
  to bite.
        Chairman:   Thank you.
                               Mr Turner
        1119.    I am really pleased the initiative you have taken starts to
  answer some of the major criticisms I have been getting from people in
  deprived areas I represent, the bidding and all the rest of it. One of the
  things that is not clear to me is that when you are at the bottom of one pile
  you tend to be on the bottom of every pile, you do not have good education,
  you do not have good health, you do not have good housing and all the rest of
  it. Would it not be better just to say to those communities "Right you are
  there at the bottom of all these piles, here is a bag of money, go away and
  deal with it.  Tell us what you want to do and give us a programme of what you
  want to achieve and how you want to get there step by step and we will just
  monitor that". Then you get rid of all this bureaucracy that you have been
  complaining about.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    First of all, there is a question about
  capacity, if there are a large number of communities, as to whether or not if
  you just gave a great wedge of money what would happen. Secondly, what
  accountability would there be in relation to it?  Thirdly, and this I think
  is important, in addition to trying to streamline the bureaucracy that comes
  from area based initiatives, we also, as a Government, say it is obvious that
  in deprived communities the standard of health and the standard of education
  tends to be lower than elsewhere. Instead of trying to deal with these
  problems by area based initiatives we should insist that success in health or
  education is not measured by the average provisions for health and education
  but that in areas where there is deprivation, ie where the standards are
  lower, then health and education, for example, have got to bring their
  standards up in that particular area to something much closer to the norm. So
  you are in effect saying mainstream programmes have got to be driven to a
  level where they produce better results in deprived area.
        1120.    I am glad you said that because that brings me to the next
  point and it relates to capacity and accountability.  That is that what the
  Government said in the Green Paper on Local Government was that local
  government should become community leaders.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.
        1121.    Now it seems to me there is capacity within the whole
  community, as opposed to the section of that community which are deprived,
  which has got capacity to deal with those services and there is the clear
  accountability role there. It does not seem to me that the way that Central
  Government funds local government joins up those needs within those
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    You mean the way it funds ---
        1122.    Through the SSA system and all the rest of it. I appreciate
  there is an ongoing examination of that, but you get many communities which
  are quite deprived which do not get anywhere near the same amount of money
  from SSAs as other communities which do not show at the same level. There is
  a problem there when you talk about how do you go through the mainstream, if
  you deliver monies for programmes, quite a lot of those programmes are 90 per
  cent, 75 per cent funding and therefore the rest of the funding has to come
  from the mainstreaming of local authority.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Or sometimes from other statutory
        1123.    I appreciate that, yes.  That then leads you to the problem
  of how do you continue to provide the services for the other areas which are
  less deprived.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Sure.
        1124.    What happens is they feel much more left out of it and
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.  How do we deal with that is the
        1125.    Yes, that is right.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    If you have brought your mainstream
  programme up to a higher standard than at present in relation to deprived
  areas that will make some contribution to that.  The other way, obviously, and
  this is not ---
        1126.    That is not what is happening at the moment.  What is
  happening at the moment is funding for those deprived areas is having to take
  money from the other mainstream areas, it is not the two, because there are
  not the sufficient additional monies going into the area to be able to fight
  that and maintain and improve the services elsewhere.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    I accept that is not happening at the
  moment but in relation to mainstream programmes, one of the consequences of
  the spending review in the middle of last year was that mainstream programmes
  would have to improve from their own resources the service they provide in
  relation, for example, to health and education in deprived areas, hopefully
  on the basis of not taking the money from the undeprived areas. It seems to
  me that comes from the Government intervention in deprived areas cross-cutting
  review in the middle of last year.  That, although it is not happening at the
  moment, to some extent meets the point that you are making so that we share
  the same aspiration there and the Government has done something to try and
  achieve it.
        1127.    I look forward to success there.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.
        1128.    Can I just go on to another issue which is about letting go
  I think. One of the problems that you have with Central Government is that
  ministers want to make sure that they get the credit for whatever happens and
  civil servants want to get credit for putting that programme in.  The reality
  is that it is only on the ground where that success you are achieving will
  actually happen.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Sure.
        1129.    The best way of doing that is what you said, to have the
  capacity within the Unit so they can make those achievements.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.
        1130.    That stretching of the dichotomy between those two is a major
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    You mean between Central Government's
  desire to be ---
        1131.    --- wanting to hang on and local communities being the
  drivers to making the achievements we want.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.
        1132.    Now, I think as politicians, central politicians, we have got
  to recognise that and do an awful lot of letting go than we have done up to
  now and I do not just mean as politicians, I mean the whole administration,
  Whitehall as well.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.  I think there is a considerable
  amount in what you say in relation to that. The nature of our democracy is
  bound to lead, is it not, to the sorts of pressures on the way that Central
  Government operates.  Quite rightly, there is an electoral cycle of four or
  five years then Central Government, whichever Government is in power, has got
  to be active and be seen to be doing things. What is more, the electoral cycle
  and changes in Government provide an impetus for real change so without it you
  would not get pressure from the centre which is appropriate from time to time
  to effect real change.  But things that transform deprived communities over
  the long term tend to be much more gradual and tend to much slower processes
  about capacity building, about reviving economies over a period of time and
  about reviving people's self-esteem over a long period of time which quite
  frequently has nothing whatsoever to do with individual programmes.
                               Mr Trend
        1133.    In the spirit of Fawlty Towers I will try hard not to mention
  the Dome. I still find it hard to understand quite what the Unit is supposed
  to do. You mentioned earlier that it was your intention to bite a certain part
  of the cycle.  What does that mean?  Can we start by asking what staff do you
  have? What is your budget? How do you get it?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    The Government Offices have a budget of
  I think 80 million. The Unit itself has a budget of six million pounds and
  has a staff of 50.  Let me give you an example of the things it does. One of
  the problems, and this is the most obvious problem, many too many initiatives
  with too many application forms and too much monitoring. One thing they have
  achieved is they have persuaded a number of departments with initiatives to
  merge their initiatives into existing initiatives so that instead of the
  people on the ground having to apply for three lots of packets of money, it
  is just one.  It is that sort of thing. It lacks high profile sectors but it
  is that sort of cultural change where people within Central Government look
  to see "Can I join in with somebody else's arrangements?  How do I make it
  easier to deliver on the ground?" that is the job of the Unit.
        1134.    You are more likely to be approached by somebody from
  Whitehall than say by somebody from one of the regional offices, Government
  Offices saying "Can you give us a hand with this?"
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Our role is to be proactive in Central
  Government to ensure that the burden of initiatives is kept to a minimum as
  far as the outside world is concerned. Our role is also to develop the role
  of the Government Offices as somebody who in service delivery terms is able
  to try to co-ordinate what Central Government is doing.
        1135.    Do you actually have any formal power over any of these
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    I have no formal power ---
        1136.    As Minister?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    No I have no formal power over the
  departments delivering health or delivering education or delivering local
  authority activity. My only power ministerially is as the minister responsible
  day to day for the Regional Co-ordination Unit.  Picking up the Chairman's
  point, in a sense his question was do all these new initiatives have to go
  through the Unit, answer "Yes, they do".  The only power ultimately will be
  if one actually said no to a particular initiative. 
        1137.    When will that happen?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    I do not know.  
        1138.    Does the Unit have regional offices or is it all based in
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    The Regional Co-ordination Unit is based
  entirely in Whitehall. The Government Offices, obviously, are based at
  regional level.
        1139.    Do all the people working in it sit together?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    They all sit together in Riverwalk House
  just on the river.  They are in the same building as the Government Office for
        1140.    Is it also true that people from the regions will come to you
  and say "Can you help us with a problem?"
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    People in the regions will not come with
  individual problems but the regional offices will, from time to time, say
  there is a problem with this initiative or that particular activity in
  Government but it will not be in reaction to a particular region with a
  particular problem. It is more about the process by which Government delivers.
        1141.    Do the heads of the regional offices meet together?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    They meet monthly. They meet every
        1142.    In London?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    In London, yes.  They meet from time to
  time elsewhere. They have had awaydays.
        1143.    Do you meet them?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    I meet them monthly.
        1144.    That is your meeting?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    No, I go to the meeting. Other things
  happen as well. For example, other ministers will talk to them about
  particular proposals they have about delivery of a particular activity in the
  regions. They will also meet with other departmental officials who will talk
  to them about delivery. They will have a proper and profound contact with
  Central Government. They are an arm of Central Government. They are Central
  Government's voice, eyes and ears and co-ordinator in the regions.
        1145.    You report to the Deputy Prime Minister?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    I do.
        1146.    Your accountability in terms of Parliament through DETR - I
  do not know how it is done Select Committee wise - would you expect to
  regularly appear before any Select Committee? Who are you accountable to?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    I have appeared before the Select
  Committee for the Environment, Transport and the Regions. That is the one I
  think that Rob Smith, the Director-General, would regard himself as being
  responsible to.
        1147.    That is very helpful. I was baffled when we went to Newcastle
  at the number of different initiatives and the number of different
  organisations on the ground.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.
        1148.    Many of these are new initiatives, I understand that, and
  regional offices are still in their infancy and have a history we all
  understand.  Fundamentally I could not see why you had a Government Office and
  a development agency.  Do you have any personal views about that?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    I do.  The RDAs are there to promote the
  economic well being of the region. They are there to set a plan and a
  direction economically for the North West, the North East, whichever region
  it might be. They are not an arm of Government whereas the Government Offices
  are, as it were, the emanation of Central Government in the region.  So, take
  an example, the Government Office will play a part in co-ordinating Sure Start
  which is for nought to fours, Connections which is for 14 to 19 year olds, the
  Children's Fund which is for five to 14, those are three separate initiatives
  that Government has. They involve different age groups of children but huge
  numbers of problems that children face are family driven problems rather than
  individual children type problems. The role of the Government Office in part
  is to assist those three initiatives coming together. They ensure that the
  Government's delivery is done in a co-ordinated way. That is a totally
  different exercise, it seems to me, from the Regional Development Agencies
  which are there to say what the economic strategy for the particular region
  should be.
        1149.    When we were in Newcastle we had a number of examples, but
  particularly on the police side, of initiatives that the correct person did
  not know were coming in or did not know were being pruned.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Sure.  The correct person in the
  Government Office you mean?
        1150.    Yes, working in the team of the Government Office, working
  for the Government Office, that is absolutely right. It did seem to me that
  there would be an interesting clash of some sort if a Government Office and
  a RDA should ever disagree about something. Does one have power over the
  other?  Does one supersede the other in certain things?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    The Regional Development Agencies are,
  as I say, trying to set an economic framework for the particular region and
  the economic goals. In doing that, they would plainly have regard to what
  Central Government's policy is on training and skills, on social exclusion,
  on economic activity generally.
        1151.    Whose job in the regions is it to make sure that works?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    "That" being what?
        1152.    That these are co-ordinated or they understand each other,
  these two wings of Government?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    It is for the Government Office to make
  sure that the Regional Development Agency has a proper understanding of what
  Central Government's policy is. It is for the Regional Development Agency to
  set what it thinks the economic framework for the region is and then to get
  it approved by the regional chamber which has happened in every case, I think. 
  It is not a question of clash because any sensible RDA is obviously going to
  have in mind, whatever the complexion of the Government may be, they have to
  have regard to what Central Government's policies are in trying to set an
  economic framework for the region.
        1153.    People will always in their minds refer back to London and
  wonder who is behind a particular organisation, how high up the political
  pecking order the principal of the organisation is.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    In the example given, how high up the
  chairman of the RDA is, you mean?
        1154.    No.  If you turned up in a region ---
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Which I do quite regularly.
        1155.    --- when you want to poke around and do this, that and the
  other, they will say "Here is someone with the ear of the Deputy Prime
  Minister and the Prime Minister, we must take life dead seriously".  That may
  be true of some Government Offices, it may be true of some RDAs. It does not
  alter the basic politics of it which is where the power resides.  
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    In terms of the Government Offices'
  role, if we deliver over the years in relation to this, what you would want
  would be the Government Offices being perceived to understand what goes on in
  Central Government to be the eyes and ears of Central Government and to be
  somebody who can speak for Central Government authoritatively in the regions
  and be able to co-ordinate what Central Government is seeking to do.
        1156.    One last question. The Government Offices do seem to be a
  very successful amalgamation of people from different departmental
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.
        1157.    Is that a model which could be looked at in Whitehall?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes. The problem you have in Whitehall
  is a problem of departmentalitis but can you conceive of any model for Central
  Government where there were not health departments, education departments,
  home departments? You have to divide it up in some way because Government
  cannot just be a great amorphous one department.  The Government Office is
  Central Government and the Regions where, in a sense, you are dealing
  primarily only with delivery of particular things and co-ordinating delivery. 
  At Central Government while you would like to replicate that I think in
  practice it would be very difficult to do, therefore you need countervailing
  pressures within Central Government to countervail against the departmental
  likes of each individual department. I cannot see how you can have a model
  where there is only one great entity with no departmental-itis or no
        1158.    There are those cynics who would say that many of these
  initiatives or units were designed to increase the power at the absolute
  centre, the Downing Street centre of Government, necessarily in power terms
  at the expense of departments and responsible ministers.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    I do not think that.  Take one product
  of what the Social Exclusion Unit has done which is the Neighbourhood Renewal
  Unit which is placed in DETR. The purpose of that Unit is to provide a
  pressure within Government to address the problems of social exclusion. 
  Social exclusion is a problem that health, education, a whole range of
  departments will come up with, if you have some pressure in Government for
  saying "When you think about health, when you think about education, be
  informed about social exclusion, bear it in mind" that looks a sensible way
  of organising a Government.  It is nothing to do with trying to strengthen the
  centre, it is actually in DETR but it has got a free standing quality to it
  that puts pressure on departments to bear in mind social exclusion.
        1159.    I can understand why Government ministers are reluctant to
  say it is to strengthen the centre. Some Members of this Committee think it
  is a very good idea, some do and some do not. For a long time some of the
  departments have just worked their own way in a rather ill defined perhaps ill
  directed way.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.
        1160.    The centre may well be the centre of power.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    I am not running away from that
  conclusion but looking at it in organisation of Government terms what you are
  trying to do is put into the system pressures for a holistic approach rather
  than simply for achieving individual department goals.  If you look at the way
  the Government has developed - this is the process - the Regional Co-
  ordination Unit, the Social Exclusion Unit, the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit,
  these are all good pressures for a more holistic approach.
        1161.    Just on this, I think it would be very useful to have your
  view on it.  You talk about countervailing pressures.  Is your view that the
  countervailing pressures we have now developed and of which we are now at one,
  is this as far as we can take such countervailing pressures or is it simply
  the beginning of something that is going to be extended and needs to be
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    I do not think we know how the
  countervailing pressures have worked or not. For example, in relation to
  deprived areas we have not seen how the countervailing pressures have operated
  on health or education or crime prevention yet because they have not been in
  place for long enough. We have not seen how Government intervention in
  deprived areas, the policy emerging from the spending review has actually
  worked.  The answer is I do not know.  We have put these pressures in place
  but if, at the end of the day, health and education provision still remains
  focused on average rather than making special provision for deprived areas it
  will not have worked.  I do not know, I think you have to treat it as work in
  progress that is evolutionary.  If one discovers in three or four years' time
  that floor targets are being met, if you discover in three or four years' time
  there has been a genuine streamlining of the number of initiatives coming out
  and the way their bureaucracy works is much better if you are on the ground,
  if you genuinely see community capacity building then I think you would think
  that the pressures have worked. I am not in a position to say whether they
  will or whether they will not because I do not think they have been in place
  for long enough.
        1162.    Is not one countervailing pressure that is needed one that
  countervails against the Treasury?  The Treasury has been a big driver of the
  whole public service programme locked in through the PSAs.  Is it not rather
  odd, in a way, that the Treasury should be the source of that concerted
  pressure across Government coming from a Treasury perspective and that some
  kind of countervailing pressure and a resource centre of countervailing
  pressure should have been developed to withstand that and offset it?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    The Treasury in one sense is always a
  pressure for a more holistic approach.  I do not mean that as a joke.
        1163.    No. No.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Holistic, I do not mean by that their
  lack of expenditure of money, I mean, for example, it is the spending review
  which produced the Government intervention in deprived areas approach which
  means that for deprived areas the provision of mainstream services has got to
  be brought up to something where you are not far away from the average. That
  is a more holistic approach. I am not quite sure I have adequately answered
  or followed your question.
        Chairman:   No, I think we have had a good exchange.  David Lepper.
                               Mr Lepper
        1164.    I suppose I am pursuing the same issue in a way here. A
  phrase you used earlier was, approvingly maybe, a strong centre within Central
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.
        1165.    The Reaching Out document talked about changes at Whitehall.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.
        1166.    Can you just sketch in for us how far some of those changes
  have gone? For instance, the document talked about a new Unit, your Unit I
  take it, superseding the Government Office Management Board.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.
        1167.    The Government Office Central Unit and Inter-Departmental
  Support Unit for ABIs, that process has now happened?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    That process has now happened. There was
  a board of three departments: DTI, DETR and DfEE that supervised the
  management of the Government Offices. I am sure that when you went to the
  North East you would have seen there was quite a lot of DETR, DTI and DfEE
  people.  What you do not want is the Government Office simply to be perceived
  to be a creature of three departments, in order for it to be effective you
  want it to be the voice of as many delivery departments as possible. 
  Hopefully, as time goes on, the management will not just be the managers of
  the RCU, which is cross-governmental, but you will see more departments
  represented in the Government Offices.  So that process has gone on.  The area
  based initiative bit of Government is now in the RCU.  The Government Office
  Co-ordination Unit, I think it was called before ----
        1168.    Management Board.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    No, Government Office Co-ordination
  Unit, is now in the RCU.  The process has gone through.  The old management
  of Government Offices has gone, it has now been replaced by the RCU which is
  cross-governmental and so, equally, dealing with the area based initiatives
  has been brought into the RCU.  So we have dealt with the processes of it but
  that is only a beginning.  
        Mr Lepper:  I am not clear how far that process of change had already
  gone.  I have jotted down the programmes that are working in my own
  constituency, which is a long one.  I will not read it out because some other
  Members might be envious of the amount of stuff we are getting.
        Mr Lammy:   I doubt it.
                               Mr Lepper
        1169.    So far as I recall, the first support that we started to get
  in my constituency of Brighton from anything was actually not from Central
  Government here but from Europe via Urban Funding and, prior to that, Interreg
  Funding.  I want to talk about UK Central Government funding but in some
  regions European funding is perhaps the cornerstone of what is going on.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.
        1170.    Can you see ways of somehow integrating what is happening
  there with the work of your Unit?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes, I agree with that.  If you talk to
  Government Offices for the regions, not all but some, they exactly make the
  point that you have made, that European funding can be more important than
  Central Government funding.  The obtaining of European funding is made very
  much easier regionally and sub-regionally if the region, or players in the
  region, have a better ida of what they can get, which in part very frequently
  means what matched funds they have got available to them and what other
  players in the forest are doing.  There is certainly a role for the Government
  Offices, which they undertake in certain regions, in assisting the
  applications that are made and the monitoring of European Union funding.  That
  is an important role for the Government Offices.
        1171.    Is what is now in place a structure which would be very
  helpful to have in place if we eventually have regional government in England?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    It is neutral as far as regional
  government is concerned.  Whatever steps are taken towards regional government
  you need a process and a mechanism by which Central Government policy and
  Central Government delivery is properly co-ordinated and made more effective
  in the regions because there is not going to be no Central Government activity
  in the regions.  Whatever model you have for regional government you need a
  well co-ordinated proper co-ordinator of Central Government in the regions. 
  I have slightly avoided that one.
        1172.    So it could be helpful if we ever take that future step but,
  on the other hand, it is a structure that is useful to have in place anyway?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Exactly, and that you are going to need
  come what may.
                               Mr Turner
        1173.    What influence do you have on Scotland?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Me personally?  None whatsoever.
        1174.    If you are going to talk about regional government and
  devolution, what is your role?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    I have got no role in relation to the
  policy for regional government.  The Government Offices are only in relation
  to England, as it happens.  As far as area based initiatives are concerned,
  I think they have all been for England and Wales since the Regional Co-
  ordination Unit was set up.
        1175.    I just want to make the point that if you have regional
  government, and regional government is fairly strongly devolved, then your
  role is going to be that much less because if devolution means anything then
  it means that the decision is being taken at a devolved level.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Sure.  I would have thought, whatever
  devolution arrangements you make for the regions, there would still be Central
  Government policies involving expenditure of money, some of that expenditure
  of money will be on an area basis, there will still be need for local
  partnerships, etc., and you would need a voice in the regions to co-ordinate
  that for Central Government.
        Mr Turner:  I suspect that I have just discovered another tension.
                               Mr Lepper
        1176.    Can I just ask one final thing, Chairman.  We may or we may
  not have regional government, but within the system as it exists at the
  moment, do you see any stronger role for the voluntary regional assemblies? 
  My impression is that they are nice things to have but nobody really knows
  much about what they are doing and their influence is probably not very strong
  and not very great.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Where I have seen them in action is in
  their interaction with the RDAs and in every case in every region they have
  debated and approved the economic strategy of the RDAs.  I am quite loath to
  get into the area of regional chambers, it is more about regional policy than
  the role of the Government Offices.
        Mr Lepper:  All right.
                               Mr Lammy
        1177.    I did not go to Newcastle but obviously, representing
  Tottenham, some of the things you have been talking about interest me a great
  deal.  You in a sense are charged with making Government work better.  I want
  to examine the relationship between Central Government and local government
  and how far you see your remit as stretching through to local government, so
  it is not just government, it is governance in a sense.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.
        1178.    How do you think that some of what you have been doing
  affects the relationship between poor local authorities and local people
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    "Poor" meaning poor quality?
        1179.    Yes.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Sorry, can you repeat the question?
        1180.    The Chairman certainly pushed you in the sense of capacity
  building at local level, the sense that Government was not working properly
  at local level, those sorts of issues, but, of course, there is a distinction
  between local people and local government.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Local authorities?
        1181.    Local authorities.  A distinction between community and
  voluntary organisations.  Some can be very large and some are, indeed, charged
  with delivering Government initiatives at local authorities.  I wonder how far
  your examination has got in that to that degree?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    One aspect of what the Government
  Offices have got to do, which is very much absorbed in Government policy in
  relation to deprived areas, is ensuring that there is proper partnership
  working in individual areas, and in particular the setting up of Local
  Strategic Partnerships to try to identify for a particular area the strategic
  direction of the use of money, the provision of services.  That Local
  Strategic Partnership has got to exist whether the local authority is good or
  whether it is bad.  The critical thing, it seems to me, is that Central
  Government has got to use what power it has got to get all the players working
  effectively together.
        1182.    Where perhaps Central Government has received some criticism,
  if you like, of all these initiatives is that it may of course be that
  ordinary people on the ground are not seeing the delivery of these initiatives
  because actually there is this other layer after Central Government that is
  charged with delivery.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    The "other layer" meaning local
        1183.    Local government.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Some of them are local government but
  quite a lot of them are not.  Sure Start, Connections, those sorts of area
  based initiatives do not involve local authorities.  Local authorities have
  got some part to play but it does not depend upon the local authority, the
  delivery of those initiatives.  Education is a different one obviously.
        1184.    Yes.  Certainly in my area, Sure Start is delivered by the
  local authority and New Deal for Communities is delivered by the local
  authority. I am not suggesting that my area has a failing local authority but 
  I am looking at the London context and you will appreciate that I was an
  Assembly Member for London previously.  There is some talk about capacity
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.
        1185.    Do you think that the pressure on Government to deliver and
  to be seen to deliver means that sometimes we do not actually think about the
  capacity building over a long stretch of time, we want it to happen tomorrow?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    We certainly feel, particularly having
  regard to the work of the Social Exclusion Unit and just seeing what is before
  you with your own eyes, if you do not spend time on capacity building and
  spend money on trying to build capacity then you are not going to get long-
  term results.  You do definitely need to build capacity in communities.
        1186.    How do you think you build that capacity?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    I think you have got to do it by first
  of all ensuring that the people who are making decisions for the community
  have a wider experience of problems.  Secondly, trying to get interchange
  between the policy makers at local level and the policy makers at Central
  Government level.  Thirdly, trying to provide advice to people as to what they
  can and cannot do, both in relation to their community and with any funds that
  come.  It is a whole range of things, there is no one answer I do not think. 
  It has got to be focused on as a critical problem, I think.
        1187.    Do you think in relation to poor people in totally deprived
  constituencies, and my constituency is one of the few constituencies in the
  country that is totally deprived, every single ward is deprived, not pockets
  of deprivation, that there is a tendency for Government at all levels to be
  over-paternalistic and actually to find it problematic, particularly where
  schools have been failing consistently over a decade or too, to easily consult
  the people and ask them what they want?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Are you saying that they ask too much?
        1188.    No.  When we talk about the initiatives that we have got ---
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Things like Sure Start, etc., yes.
        1189.    These things are aimed at the socially excluded and, by
  definition, the socially excluded are excluded.  Many of the people charged
  with delivering these things are over-paternalistic by nature.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    If you are saying it is just the usual
  professionals who turn up, consult, and then make the decisions, I think there
  is much too much of that.  You really need to get people from the communities
  you are trying to reach engaged over a long period of time in the process of
  determining what happens to the community.  You have much more experience of
  this than I.  That is very, very difficult to achieve over a sustained period
  of time because, as it were, the usual suspects on the partnerships tend to
  be professionals, not necessarily lawyers, social workers, but people engaged
  on a full-time basis in that sort of thing.  You need to think of processes
  whereby you do properly engage the actual members of the community you are
  trying to reach, which is difficult.
        1190.    When you have got a totally deprived area these people do not
  live anywhere near it usually.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Not always.  From time to time in quite
  a lot of communities you will meet people who, through volunteering, through
  getting involved in some community project, do genuinely speak from and within
  the deprived community.
        1191.    That is the issue of capacity because obviously there is also
  an issue of capacity in the voluntary sector in the community sector.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes, but that is something we recognise
  that money needs to be spent on because without it you get what I think you
  are getting at, which is that the usual suspects always talk on behalf of the
  community in deciding what is best for them.  I agree with your analysis.
        1192.    How much interaction are you having with deprived
  communities?  How often are you in deprived communities?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Me personally?
        1193.    Yes.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    I go around as much as I can.  Once a
  week I will go to some region.  I will not necessarily always go to a deprived
  region but I will go to a Government Office and go with them to somewhere
  which is dealing with the work that they are doing.
        1194.    Just one final question.  Do you think that the Government
  has done enough so that ordinary people on the doorstep, Joe Bloggs or Joe
  Blow, whatever you call him, knows what the Children's Fund is, knows what
  Sure Start is?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    I would have thought if you ask Joe Blow
  or Joe Bloggs what the Children's Fund is they would not have the foggiest
  idea, the vast majority of them at the moment.  That is more about people not
  being interested.  The Children's Fund is a fund that has not been going for
  very long.  It is about the extent to which people are interested in politics
  and policy announcements.  Are people interested in that?
        1195.    I think that poor people are interested in money and a lot of
  these initiatives are about money in that sense, money for their communities,
  so they are interested.  We perhaps need to do more to get that to them but
  I am not sure that it is Central Government that is necessarily responsible
  for that.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Right.  Okay.
        Mr Lammy:   Maybe local government.
        1196.    We need to end very shortly because we have got a second half
  coming up.  Perhaps if I ask quick questions you could give quick answers. 
  Just picking up on David's last point, the question I want to ask arising out
  of that is does it matter that the way in which Government programmes are
  being delivered in areas now are so complex that nobody has a clue who runs
  anything any more?  If people do not have a clue who runs anything any more,
  does that not by itself have a damaging and demoralising effect on the civic
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    I think the two things you said are
  separate.  Complexity of programme itself does not particularly matter if you
  do have an understanding of who is responsible for whatever the fund of money
  is, whatever the particular delivery is.  I do not think one should focus too
  much on whether the internals of a programme are complex.  The more important
  thing is, is there a sense that there is somebody who is responsible for
  making life better, providing better education, ensuring that children under
  five get a fair deal.
        1197.    And the fact that people do not know who these people are,
  who is responsible for them, where the money is coming from, what they can do
  about that, makes it a very impenetrable world.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    I think it matters a lot because I think
  the more people do not know about those things, the more they become alienated
  from all political process.
        1198.    That was what I was suggesting.  When the Committee went to
  the North East, and again it is borne out by the PIU Report, we heard endless
  stories of some of the problems.  We heard a senior policeman saying memorably
  to us "we have now got more PIUs than PCs" and we heard someone telling us how
  typically on programmes, on a three year programme, the first year was spent
  trying to set them up, the second year trying to do something half useful and
  the third year planning an exit strategy. In departments now we have people
  called consumer champions.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.
        1199.    Should we not have bureaucracy busters?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    I do not think your question was about
  bureaucracy necessarily.  Sir Michael Bichard and Sir Richard Mottram gave
  evidence to you referring to the fact that sometimes it is good to be
  prescriptive.  They referred to the literacy and numeracy hour in schools. 
  That was something where teachers had to do something and I bet you many of
  them complained about it but people broadly perceive that it works.  There is
  a good example of prescribing something which works.  There are lots and lots
  of other cases where the prescription does not work but one is talking about
  the generality, how can one define what is the right side of the line.
        1200.    I am suggesting that there is someone whose job it is to sort
  some of this nonsense out inside departments, so people can go to these people
  and say "look, it is stupid that we are being asked to report endlessly in
  this way, let us just get on with the job".  I am offering this as a
  suggestion.  The final question I would ask you is over the last years, and
  in the previous government particularly, we have had the notion of compliance
  cost assessments being developed in relation to legislation.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.
        1201.    For business.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Yes.
        1202.    Is there not a very strong case for having a similar
  compliance cost system introduced for the public sector?  The assumption seems
  to be that these things come cost free but, in fact, they are hugely costly.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    You mean you should be assessing the
  bureaucratic burden on schools, hospitals.
        1203.    Yes.  For each initiative that comes in, whether directed at
  local government or anywhere else, you have to put with it some serious
  assessment of what the cost of this is going to be to that organisation.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    I can see real merit in that.  It would
  be a discipline that would force people to think about it.  I have not thought
  about the practicalities so you cannot regard me as committing anybody to it,
  but I can see that it would be a discipline, like in relation to Regulatory
  Impact Assessments, where you are forced to think about what the cost to
  business is of doing a particular legislative proposal.
                               Mr Trend
        1204.    Would it come within the discipline of setting up units?
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    It would.  Presumably you would have to
  say you have got to get your area based initiatives through the RCU and the
  benefit would be, hopefully, less initiatives.
        1205.    We will have to stop.  I think we have had a most interesting
  exchange with you.  Thank you very much indeed for coming along.  We wish you
  well with your endeavours.  We have not mentioned the Dome.
        (Lord Falconer of Thoroton)    Indeed.
        Chairman:   Thank you very much.