Select Committee on Public Administration Written Evidence

Letter to Sir Robin Butler KCB CVO, Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Home Civil Service, from Rt Hon Dr David Owen MP

  Thank you for your letter and again my gratitude to everyone who has read through the chapters.

  As to the chapter on Navy Minister, I agree to make the deletion that you have requested. As to Minister of Health I would like to keep the present reference but if Sir Christopher France finds that it upsets Sir Philip Rogers I will delete his name at proof stage to refer to senior officials but I think the reference is important, demonstrating well on both Sir Philip himself and the principle of independent advice to Ministers and after 15 years I think it would be beneficial to reveal it.

  On page 2, dealing with your letter, paragraph by paragraph:

  First, I have deleted the words "that did . . . MI5".

  Second, I have deleted any personal criticism implied or otherwise relating to Michael Butler and Michael Pallier and deleted the reference to John Fretwell but kept the tribute to Donald Maitland.

  Third, I have deleted any reference to advice by either Ivor Richard or Sir Anthony Duff. I was tempted to keep Ivor Richard in since he was really a political appointment but I have decided to treat him as a civil servant. Since Ted Rowlands is a Minister I consider it perfectly acceptable to give his advice after this period, as with other Ministers, on the IMF.

  Fourth, I have deleted the reference to Ewen Fergusson and for reasons I have explained kept references to Junior Ministers and the Cabinet Committee.

  Fifth, I have kept the description of Cabinet meetings.

  On your page three, first paragraph, I have removed all references to Sir Nicholas Henderson apart from his leaked despatch in the Economist. I agree basically with your point that it is not reasonable to expect civil servants to restrain from publishing their diaries if we breach the guidelines.

  Second, I have reduced the criticism of Peter Ramsbotham. in the ways you suggested.

  Third, I have made the deletion as you suggested.

  On your fourth paragraph, for reasons I have explained I have kept in references to Ministers and the Cabinet vote

  Fifth, I have deleted the reference to Tom McCaffrey.

  Sixth, I have kept the references from Tony Benn's Diaries.

  Seventh, I have deleted references to Michael Butler.

  Eighth, I have kept the Ministerial views.

  Ninth, I have made the deletion you suggested in relation to the Governor of Hong Kong.

  Again, many thanks for your helpful suggestions and I hope you will not be too upset where I have found it impossible to take your views.

7 June 1991

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