Goats and Tsars: Ministerial and other appointments from outside Parliament - Public Administration Committee Contents


104. The appointment from outside of people to be ministers or 'tsars' has been a controversial development. To some it represents a welcome change in emphasis towards extending the range of talent and expertise available to a Prime Minster when forming a government. To others it is an attempt to marginalise parliamentary parties and allow Prime Ministers to appoint closed cliques of people sympathetic to him.

105. The practice of outside appointment has been tacked on to a system of government that was never really designed to support it. Powers that were, in the past, used to appoint one or two specialists or close associates of the Prime Minister have been used to bring much more substantial numbers of people into government from outside Parliament. Some of these people have done valuable work, but the current appointment process does not help to establish their legitimacy. Neither do the accountability mechanisms for these ministers once in office. Such appointments should be exceptional and the Prime Minister should be capable of justifying them to the House of Commons. Appointees should be clearly accountable to the House of Commons. Similarly, 'tsars' need to be subject to greater transparency both in the way in which they are appointed and the work they undertake. If current trends on the appointment of outsiders to government are to continue, then it is essential that there should be a proper consideration of all the constitutional implications first.

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Prepared 11 March 2010