Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Cut the Number of Ministers

I have been reading through the Hansard from yesterday's statement by Nick Clegg about the AV referendum and the proposed reduction in the number of MPs.

Chris Bryant made an excellent point, but as usual blew it and went totally OTT. He said that if the number of MPs is being reduced, them surely it should follow that the number of government ministers should be reduced too. Otherwise the Executive has an even stronger grip on parliament than it does now. Bryant suggested the number of ministers should be cut by one fifth (something I wouldn't demur from) but that is more than double the per centage of MPs who will be culled (8%).

I hope someone will table an amendment to the Bill to address this issue properly.

Read the full exchanges from Hansard HERE.

15 comments:

Duncan Stott said...

Last year, Cameron reportedly promised to do this http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/6163544/David-Cameron-to-cull-Cabinet-and-ministerial-posts.html

trevorsden said...

We need as many ministers as it takes ... surely? This may indeed be fewer than now - but we need enough ministers for the job, not an arbitrary number. But to cut the payroll vote surely we should cut the number of PPSs and other 'assistant'.

As you infer a proportional cut in ministers is not many; hardly a significant issue.

Paul Halsall said...

"Chris Bryant made an excellent point, but as usual blew it and went totally OTT".

Hmm. I had heard this about him on Manhunt.

Meanwhile, if the number of ministers is reduced, is the power of the civil service increased?

Will said...

Presumably that limit would only apply to Ministers who come from the Commons, and the Executive could still recruit as many Ministers as it wants from the Lords?

Or is this a great example of how constitutional change needs to be done as a whole package rather than piece by piece?

nulli_secundus said...

I think Chris Bryant's suggestion to cut by 22 was a cheeky reference to the 22 LibDems ministers.

Still, a very good point. One fifth of the Commons is payroll lobby-fodder. Far, far too many.

IvorBiggun said...

It's curious that the mooted plan to cut MP nos. from 650 to 500/550 has been got at, with yesterday's announcement that the reduction would be from 650 down to 600. Turkeys not voting for Christmas. Perhaps the size of parliament should be part of the referendum too!

On another note, the solution to the size of the executive in parliament is to appoint the executive from outside of parliament - thus getting rid of patronage and the payroll vote and having a much wider gene pool of talent to choose from. There are downsides to this, but the upsides more than outweigh those.

George said...

Quite right for there to be a cull in MP numbers. Also quite right that this cull should be linked with the re-organisation of constituency boundaries to ensure that future MP's represent roughly equally the same number of people. Also very right and proper that the re-organisation of boundaries undo the blatant gerry-mandering undertaken by NuLab during its regime.
Where Chris Bryant is coming from god only knows or perhaps he has had some synthetic or natural assistance to his synapses. Surely the fact that the number of executive positions rise on a pro rata basis with the cull is good. It allows for the permeation of poer and allows the electorate to directly influence more ministers. Particulalry if the process of recall/de-selection is also in action.

The NuLab rump is desperately seeking propaganda victories from any subject/issue slavishly following the old adage that an opposition opposes, apparantly oblivious to the fact that they have no leadership. Well, they do have the temp, Hattie HaHaperson, but best left unmentioned.

Enlightened Despot said...

A current Cabinet member (Conservative) told me to me shortly before the election that they had looked seriously at a significant reduction, possibly down to two per Department with a lot of decision making being made by the departmental board, which would have been strengthened with more external directors and chaired by the Secretary of State. The entire board would have been accountable to Parliament.

Good idea - however, he admitted that they might have done something were it not for the need to use promotion to the ministerial ranks to reward people, or at least as a carrot to dangle in front of back benchers. Another good argument for separating the Executive from the legislature.

JoeF said...

Clegg rightly pointed out Commons largest elected chamber in Europe and larger than House Reps in USA even, but then logically we should be cutting back to say 400-500 MPs, not 600. Oddly enough the Commons only as about 450 seats, so how about that!

re Ministers, all studies show an effective management structure/ team can not have more than about 10 members to a leader, so 20% off number in cabinet is also not nearly enough. Cabinet should be maximum about 10 members (who could then have an extra junior or two each).

Houdini said...

maybe someone should tell Bryant how many ministers there were before Labour took office in 1997

el said...

I might be wrong, (haven't checked the numbers for one thing) but doesn't Bryant's number of 22 refer to the number of Lib Dem ministers in the coalition government? i.e. it was a sly dig at the coalition?

Oxenstierna said...

"I have been reading through the Hansard" - Dizzy, is that you?

Peter said...

The role of Government should be to take an overview rather than to trying to micro manage the country. It would be logical to do this with the minimum possible number of and ministers.
Therefore, should we not consider merging some of the ministries. For example Environment and Transport.

blemster said...

People have the right to be reprisented, problems arise when decissions are made abroad, yes there needs to be a reduction in Members of Parliament, but also in the powers that have been sold off so cheaply,

GrimUpNorth said...

Switzerland, one of the best run countries in the world, has seven cabinet members (including a minister for army/defence who doubles up as minister for sport). We have far too much Government and UK PLC would prosper by having far less.