Oliver Letwin’s decision to launch a consultation on reducing the amount of time that government has to spend on consultations has sparked controversy in Whitehall. Sticklers for procedure are complaining, in a way that only Sir Humphrey himself could do justice to, that other ministers hadn’t been consulted about the decision to launch a consultation on shortening consultations.
Now, this is all quite trivial. But it does reveal just how bureaucratic modern-day government has become. This problem has been exacerbated by the Equalities Act and the rise of judicial reviews. Indeed, I understand that there is now a board of civil servants whose job is to review the equality impact assessments being done by other civil servants.
Even those Conservative ministers who arrived in government believing that the civil service was a Rolls Royce machine are now anxious to reform it. I expect that civil service reform will be one of the priorities of the next Conservative majority government.Tags: Oliver Letwin, UK politics, Whitehall