Monday, February 15, 2010

An Unprecedented Letter

Remember the fun I had last week at John Denham's expense? For those who don't remember, he had a bit of a run-in with his Permanent Secretary over his decision to impose unitary authorities on Norwich and Exeter. The PS saw fit to write to him officially to ask for a written instruction to implement the changes in order to avoid any personal liability on the part of the civil servants, whio had raised concerns about the Secretary of State's motives and plans. The DCLG Press Office was keen to point out that there was no breakdown in relations between the two men. You've got to admire their chutzpah.

Tory front bencher Nick Hurd had, coincidentally I assume, asked a PQ to see when this procedure was last used. The answer is illuminating.

Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether any written instructions have been provided to the Accounting Officer for his Department and its predecessors in accordance with paragraph 5.5 of the Ministerial Code since May 1997.

Barbara Follett: The accounting officer for the Department for Communities and Local Government has not obtained a ministerial direction since the Department was established in May 2006. I am not aware that any ministerial directions were issued to accounting officers of CLG's predecessor Departments in respect of the Department's current responsibilities since May 1997.
Hansard, 10 February 2010, col. 1028W

So, such correspondence is unprecedented. It's from the horse's mouth. Not that I am calling Barbara Follett a horse. Although she is rather good at troughing. Too the tune of £42,000.


Jimmy said...

Why would he only be interested in the period after May 1997?

It's a puzzler isn't it?

Doubting Richard said...

That would be Barbara Follett, wife of multi-millionaire author Ken Follett, troughing to the tune of £42 grand. Just to remind people that these are not hard-up Labour politicians from the pits or the ferry company.