Going Dutch? Should we have independent manifesto checks?

, 27 September 2013

The Chancellor can make great play of the fact that his forecasts are no longer made by the Treasury but by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), established shortly after the 2010 election. The Opposition instead has to see its proposals “costed” by government officials, on the basis not of their assumptions, but...

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The makings of an unhelpful debate: lessons from HS2

, 23 September 2013

It need not be this way. The poor quality of this debate is a reflection of an institutional vacuum in the UK that afflicts areas of policy where projects extend beyond parliamentary cycles, and require cross-party support and coordination. Infrastructure projects of national significance are a prime example. Building sustainable, cross-party agreement requires a...

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Civil service legislation: international comparisons and the case for more clarity

, 20 September 2013

Legislation can embed change and establish norms of expected behaviour. Northcote and Trevelyan argued in their seminal report on the Civil Service in 1854 that overcoming the ‘powerful interests’ of the status quo needed ‘the force of law’. Their recommendation was ignored until 2010, but elsewhere – such as in New Zealand – legislation...

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Guest blog: Inspiration for Government – the Education Endowment Foundation toolkit

, 17 September 2013

Our award came the same week as a study published by the Department for Education found that over half (52%) of secondary schools and a third (33%) of primary schools had used the toolkit. These echoed the findings of a survey by the Sutton Trust. Several thousand schools have now used our guide. To...

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Civil servant asked to do job – shock

, 16 September 2013

We have grown used to the idea that policy reviews should be done by anyone other than the Civil Service. The FT suggested that a review of policy should have been undertaken by a minister – but then points out that, in a coalition, the question of which minister is fraught.  Would this be...

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Parliament, the Royal Prerogative and decisions to go to war

, 6 September 2013

The power to commit troops in armed conflict is one of the remaining Royal Prerogatives – that is powers that are derived from the Crown rather than conferred on them by Parliament. There is no codified parliamentary procedure that formally requires the Government to seek approval before taking military action. The Prime Minister and...

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