Examination of Witnesses (Questions 40-59)|
THURSDAY 28 FEBRUARY 2002
40. In broad terms, are the rules that are applied
in this case exactly the same as would have applied in the period
of the last Government?
(Mr Granatt) In terms of propriety?
(Mr Granatt) The rules that were issued in June of
1997 had no substantial difference at all between the rules of
this and the previous Government.
42. Sorry, I asked you the wrong question. Is
the matter being handled and investigated in the same way? Is
the process the same as in the previous Government?
(Mr Granatt) The process by which DTLR is investigating
(Mr Granatt) The straight answer is I do not know
in detail because I do not know the detail of DTLR's investigation.
44. But you will know and you will consider
your position at that stage?
(Mr Granatt) It is possible I will know and, if I
felt it was necessary to look across the whole system because
it was a widespread endemic problem, then clearly that was something
I would take a view on.
45. You have your finger on the pulse much more
closely than us. Do you know what the latest view is? Is Mr Sixsmith?
(Mr Granatt) I know no more than what is in this morning's
46. And you believe the papers?
(Mr Granatt) Seriously, I do not know.
47. I was a little confused on what you said
earlierand this was because of something Richard Wilson
saida handful of special advisers could not overall manipulate
3,700 mandarinsI understand what he meant. How does the
figure you used of 1094/28 people relate to the figure in Nick
Jones' article in the New Statesman about the 240 people who are
involved in communications?
(Mr Granatt) That number clearly refers to the people
who work in press offices in Whitehall.
48. And the other people then work for?
(Mr Granatt) They work for the same Director of Communications,
they work in marketing communications, publications, advertising,
seminarsall the things that are not directly press work.
49. But which do directly fall into the empire
(Mr Granatt)the Director of Communications,
50. And your remit only runs to the 240?
(Mr Granatt) No. It runs across all of them.
51. The New Statesman article suggests that
this has been a revolution in the way Government works. Do you
have a view on that?
(Mr Granatt) The "revolution" being the
52. No. The revolution being the way in which
an official in No 10, a party appointee but a Government official
who is capable of doing all this throughout the system, is able
to control his 1,000 people?
(Mr Granatt) Yes. If you ask anybody at No 10 truthfully
whether they think they control these 1,000 people, they would
hoot with laughter, and that would be true of this administration
and the last. Those people are under the authority of their departments;
they are responsible to them; they are not responsible to No 10.
The revolution I think of which Nick Jones is probably speaking
is having a special adviser with executive powers in Downing Street
who runs the communication operation and who has taken a robust
view of how to try and co-ordinate the activities of a large number
of departments of state, but I think in terms of, "You will
do this today, you will do this tomorrow"it would
be wrong for me not to point out that there are often quite vigorous
debates as to who does what
53. I understand that but you have a traditional
Civil Service that what is the responsibility of one department
is that department's responsibility, and you are suggesting that
you cannot interfere in one department because it is looking after
its own affairs, but the special advisersand this was true
under the last Government as well of course but much more nowdo
network in a much more aggressive and open to themselves way,
and they have a system which you say you would rather not have?
(Mr Granatt) I am not sure what I said I would rather
54. You would rather not interfere in other
(Mr Granatt) I cannot interfere.
55. You do not wish to investigate what is going
on in Richard Mottram's department?
(Mr Granatt) What are we talking about here? If we
are talking about day-to-day strategy, No 10 has always had a
role and a general authority, whoever ran it, to do its best to
co-ordinate and direct departments collectively to achieve a central
aim. That has always got to be compromised and reconciled to the
fact that Government is a very big and complicated machine and
departments have their own priorities and will argue very vigorously
about the changes in what they are doing because it will upset
the programme they have carefully set out. That is different from
my role as a central adviser. I do not have an operational role
in the way that departments run what they do.
56. I think what I really mean is it is a reflection
of what Richard Wilson told us about the numbers in that if we
take your figure, which I thought was fair, of 40 people, these
are up on the bridge with Alastair Campbell and the thousand people
are down in the boiler room with you, and the 40 people up on
the bridge can have a hugely disproportionate effect on what actually
happens, so the numbers game does not work well?
(Mr Granatt) I can remember special advisers complaining
just as loudly about No 10 as civil servants do. I think the point
you are making, though, is a fair one: that special advisers,
because they work closely with a minister, have an opportunity
to influence what a minister does quite properly in their role
as special adviser. Quite often, and in my experience and in my
role as director of five departments, I did not have much less
influence or opportunity or effect on the people I was advising.
I return to something I have said to this Committee and others
before: that I think the key to all this, if it is working properlyand
in my experience generally it is working properly and I have asked
all my colleagues across Whitehall how things are working and
all of them, with one obvious exception, say things are working
well at the momentis that there is a strong working partnership
of trust between the special advisers, the director of communication
and the principal private secretary in the minister's office because
that relationship is key to making these things work.
57. Can I ask you for a personal view on one
last thing? You said you could not answer this and you could not
say anything else, but to us it is perfectly obvious you are not
entirely happy about this matter. In order to draw a line between
what is legitimate and what is not, how would you best see the
way forward of the question of the Civil Service Act? Do you have
(Mr Granatt) On the Civil Service Act?
58. Yes, and whether or not that would solve
the problem which some people perceive as existing, and confusion
of our roles in this?
(Mr Granatt) My view is this, if I am allowed to give
a personal view: we have codes at the moment. Those codes set
out as clearly as anybody could manage the line between acting
properly and improperly, which is essentially, "Are we doing
anything today as civil servants which would prevent us serving
an administration of a different colour tomorrow?" I think
a debate on the Civil Service Act would be extremely useful if
it brought more clarity and consensus to what was happening. I
think it would have to enjoy broad agreement because otherwise
it would have no value and I think we would mislead ourselves
if we thought that a statutory framework would automatically of
itself bring great clarity and certainty, because that has not
been the history of legislation.
59. You drew this nautical analogy of your role.
If we were to extend that more into Star Trek, Tony Blair is Captain
Kirk and Alastair Campbell is Mr Spock, and you are Scotty, down
in the engine room. Where does the Prime Minister's official spokesperson
fit into the ship?
(Mr Granatt) I thought Alastair Campbell was Mr Chang
because he was the guy steering the ship. Mr Spock was somebody
elseyou could always find somebody in No 10 who is Mr Spock!
SorryI have lost the thread.