Inventing convention – special advisers as members of the House of Lords

, 15 September 2015

‘If a new peer is a special adviser, they will be able to participate in the division lobbies but not contribute to debates,’ said Baroness Stowell in her statement to the Lords Evidence. Many assume that three new special adviser peers – Kate Fall, the Prime Minister’s deputy chief of staff; Philippa Stroud, special...

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Experienced Labour: the Labour frontbench 2010–15

, 10 September 2015

Ministerial stability is important: it allows ministers to build up experience and maintain focus. The same could be said for Opposition frontbenchers, who have to balance long-term policy development with other commitments (like responding to media stories) and without the benefit of the Civil Service. The coming weeks could see big changes to the...

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Estate of the nation: the government estate since 2010

, 9 September 2015

Three quarters of the government estate is taken up by just five departments – DWP, MoJ, BIS, HMRC and DfT. Government departments are big, not just in spending power but also the physical space they occupy. In 2014, according to the most recent State of the Estate, the core government departments took up 8.2...

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Making tax policy better: the case for strengthening the Office of Tax Simplification

, 1 September 2015

The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has always been the poor relation of the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR). The OBR has a profile – it is a pledge of reassurance to both voters and markets of the government’s commitment to fiscal discipline. When it was created, it was rapidly put on a statutory...

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The ever-expanding House of Lords

, 27 August 2015

Appointments to the unelected second chamber are one of a Prime Minister’s most significant powers of patronage. The list of new peers includes 26 Conservatives, 11 Liberal Democrats and 8 Labour members. Since 2010, 50% of party peers appointed by Cameron have been members of the Conservative party. Handing out peerages has enabled Cameron...

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The numbers behind the efficiency savings

, 25 August 2015

The government’s latest figures for efficiency savings were published on 17th August. The headline figure looked encouraging: £18.6bn saved in 2014/15, up 25% on a like-for-like basis from 2013/14. This might sound very positive, but is rather misleading. Both this year’s and last year’s numbers are measured against a 2009/10 baseline, so the savings...

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