Work of the Committee since the 2017 General Election Contents

Conclusions

The Work and Purpose of PACAC

1.The Committee believes that comprehensive delivery of the public administration and constitutional affairs remits, currently assigned to PACAC, comprises a workload which exceeds the resources of the Committee. Either resources should be increased, or the remit should be split between two separate committees of the House of Commons. (Paragraph 8)

2.We also recommend that consideration is given to establishing a joint committee of both Houses to oversee official statistics and to scrutinise the work of UK Statistics Authority. This is a specialist area of policy and administration, which would benefit from the attention of a dedicated committee. The House of Lords contains expertise and experience from which such a committee would benefit. (Paragraph 9)

Constitutional Affairs

3.Our committee intends to take a more comprehensive look at the state of the UK Constitution and faith in our democracy in the next session. (Paragraph 17)

Public Administration

4.We have drawn on the accumulated experience of the work of our predecessor committees in our work in this session. Civil Service effectiveness is less about structures and more about culture, by which we mean the values, attitudes and behaviours adopted by people in the organisation. Our two reports focus on how these need to be developed in order to improve effectiveness. Above all, ministers and officials need to develop, and to depend upon, openness and trust in all their working relationships, in order for truth to be told to power. (Paragraph 22)

5.Our overall impression is that parts of government are far better at conducting public spending control on a year-to-year basis, than on longer-term financial planning and management, but we are pleased that the government is showing an appreciation of what improvements can be made. (Paragraph 27)

6.We have also learned how to make pre-appointment hearings most meaningful. It is important for Committees to have early engagement with the appointment process, including how the role is specified and advertised, and of how the interview panel is composed. (Paragraph 29)

The work of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

7.In our report PHSO Annual Scrutiny 2017/18: Towards a Modern and Effective Ombudsman Service, we reiterated the need for legislation to reform the PHSO’s governance and we strongly recommend that pre-legislative scrutiny of the Draft Public Service Ombudsman Bill is included in the next Queen’s Speech. We will continue to press for this legislation as a matter of urgency. We will also continue to press for the introduction of the HSSIB Bill as soon as possible, so that the work of PHSO will be complimented by the new Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch of the Department of Health with the statutory independence and other legal powers that it requires, in order to be effective. (Paragraph 34)

Official Statistics

8.PACAC has sought to keep up with the fast-developing world of statistics and data. This is an increasingly specialist area which demands constant scrutiny and depth of expertise and experience, which PACAC has always been hard pressed to provide. This is why a new specialist joint committee of both Houses should be considered for this part of our remit. We regard our recent report on UKSA as something of a landmark, which should lead to a government review of UKSA as soon as time allows. (Paragraph 38)





Published: 8 October 2019