The Committee on Standards in Public Life (the Wicks Committee) has begun its inquiry into the relationship between Ministers, special advisers and permanent civil servants.The committee has published an initial consultation paper defining the boundaries and this will be followed by written evidence and public hearings. There will be a final report in December which is expected to inform proposals for a new Civil Service Act.
The inquiry begins just as there is heightened interest in the roles of special advisors, due to the high profile departures at DTLR of special advisor Jo Moore and civil servant Martin Sixsmith.
The scope of the inquiry will be to examine the roles of Ministers, civil servants and special advisors, the boundaries of those different roles, and how they are policed, both in principle and practice.
Responses to the committee’s initial paper launching the inquiry have to be in by May 31.
The Government is expected to launch consultation shortly on the start of a process towards a Civil Service Act, which may put the code of conduct civil servants follow on a legal footing, and set a limit for the number of special advisors.