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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Did Cameron authorise Myers appointment or did Hague breach Ministerial Code?

Did Cameron authorise Myers appointment or did Hague breach Ministerial Code?

Special advisers in the United Kingdom

A special adviser works in a supporting role to the British government. With media, political or policy expertise, their duty is to assist and advise government ministers.

Special advisers are paid by central government and are styled as so-called "temporary civil servants" appointed under Article 3 of the Civil Service Order in Council 1995. They contrast with "permanent" civil servants in the respect that they are political appointees whose loyalties are claimed by the governing party and often particular ministers with whom they have a close relationship. For this reason, advisors may resign when a general election is called to campaign on behalf of their party. Special advisers have sometimes been criticised for engaging in advocacy while still on the government payroll or switching directly between lobbying roles and the special adviser role.

Advisers are governed by a code of conduct which goes some way to defining their role and delineates relations with the permanent civil service, contact with the media and relationship with the governing party, inter alia:

“the employment of special advisers adds a political dimension to the advice and assistance available to Ministers while reinforcing the political impartiality of the permanent Civil Service by distinguishing the source of political advice and support [...] Special advisers are employed to help Ministers on matters where the work of Government and the work of the Government Party overlap and where it would be inappropriate for permanent civil servants to become involved. They are an additional resource for the Minister providing assistance from a standpoint that is more politically committed and politically aware than would be available to a Minister from the permanent Civil Service.”

The rules for their appointment, and status in relation to ministers, are set out in the Ministerial Code.

Source: Wikipedia.

Ministerial Code

3.2 With the exception of the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers may each appoint up to two special advisers (paid or unpaid). The Prime Minister may also authorise the appointment of one or two special advisers by Ministers who regularly attend Cabinet. All appointments, including exceptions to this rule, require the prior written approval of the Prime Minister, and no committments to make such appointments should be entered into in the absence of such approval. All special advisers will be appointed under terms and conditions set out in the Model Contract for Special Advisers and the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers.

Source: Ministerial Code.

1 comment:

Morus said...

Maybe, maybe not.

As I understand it, Myers hiring related to Hague's additional burden as First Secretary of State. So this may be the work around: that when the code refers to a 'Minister' it refers to the office-in-person, rather to a unique individual.

The Foreign Secretary had 2 SpAds, and the First Secretary of State had one. William Hague simply happens to hold both jobs.

I don't know the legalities of this, or the extent to which the Code is legally binding on the PM as Minister for the Civil Service, or how easily it can be changed, but I'd imagine this would be one obvious approach.