Smaller Government: What do Ministers do?
HC 530, Seventh Report of Session 2010-11 - Volume I: Report, Together with Formal Minutes, Oral and Written Evidence
- House of Commons - Public Administration Select Committee
- TSO (The Stationery Office)
In this report the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) argues that the Government appoints too many ministers and should reduce their number by the middle of the Parliament, as it devolves real power and responsibility to local communities. And following the decision to cut the number of MPs in the House of Commons from 650 to 600, the Committee finds further scope for reductions.
Detailed in 'Smaller Government: What do Ministers do? (HC 530)', 141 MPs are currently on the 'payroll vote' as ministers or their Parliamentary aides. If this number remains static at the same time as MPs are cut, it will effectively increase the payroll vote - further strengthening the Executive at the expense of Parliament.
PASC urges three steps on the Government to reduce this power of patronage:
the current legal cap on the number of paid ministers should set the absolute limit;
the legal limit on the number of ministers in the Commons should be cut by eight; and
the number of Parliamentary Private Secretaries (PPSs) should be limited to one per department - a reduction of 26.
The report recommends a review of ministerial numbers to reflect the smaller government. Ministers' time is not always well spent and the report identifies a number of ways in which the Government could therefore refocus ministers' work and make them more effective.
The Committee believes it should ultimately be possible to cut the number of ministers to a total of 80, shared between the Commons and the Lords.
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