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Putting Goats Amongst The Wolves

This report explores the appointment of ministers from outside Parliament, the experience of such ministers, and issues of accountability to Parliament.

This study set out to explore the arguments for appointing ministers from outside
Parliament, and to study the experience of such appointees. It also looked at the
overseas experience, in countries where such appointments are more common.

The study found a wide range of views and experience. A few of these new UK ‘outsider’ ministers were regarded as successful, and several as failures. Most were given little or no induction. Some felt that too much emphasis was placed on the parliamentary role. Many were critical of the lack of clear delegation or objectives.

The overseas experience of 'outsider' ministers also proved less distinctive than generally supposed. Many of those appointed from technocratic backgrounds turned out to have significant political experience as well, at local and regional level, or as party officials.

The study concluded that:

  • There were no special problems of accountability at Westminster, since all suchoutsiders were appointed as junior peer ministers and so became accountable to theHouse of Lords. 
  • The government’s plans for an elected second chamber would put an end to thepractice of appointing outsider ministers to the Lords. Outsider ministers, ifappointed at all, would have to be wholly ‘outside’ Parliament.
  • In these circumstances, each House would need to devise procedures for holding suchministers to account, and the Commons might find it harder to deny a platform toministers who asked for it.

Page last modified on 23 feb 11 17:27