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Monday 16th July 2012 | 19:25
On Tuesday 17th July, starting around 1230pm, the Chair of the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC), Bernard Jenkin MP, will lead a Commons debate on the role of the Prime Minister’s Special Adviser on Ministers’ Interests. The Prime Minister’s Adviser is charged with investigating potential breaches of the Ministerial Code. The Code governs, among other things, ministers’ relationships with their special advisers.
The motion to be debated is as follows:
“That this House calls on the Government to implement the recommendation made by the Public Administration Select Committee in paragraph 44 of its Twenty Second Report of Session 2010-12, The Prime Minister’s Adviser on Ministers’ Interests: independent or not?, that the Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests ‘should be empowered to instigate his own investigations’; and notes that this motion has been agreed by the Public Administration Select Committee.”
The PASC report, published in March of this year, called on Government to make some key changes to the powers and recruitment process for the role in order to make it “independent in a meaningful sense”.
Bernard Jenkin MP, Chair of the Committee, said: “We have made clear that the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Ministers’ Interests should not have to depend on a referral from the Prime Minister in order to determine whether or not there has been a breach of the code.
“If the Adviser is to be independent in any meaningful sense, he must have the power to initiate an investigation into prima facie breaches of the Ministerial Code.
“With regard to Jeremy Hunt, there was clearly something of a breakdown of good process and good governance and the fact that the Prime Minister didn’t refer this case has led to public criticism that could have been avoided if the public were confident that the Adviser was able to instigate his own investigations.
“It is important for public confidence in Government that all watchdogs are seen to be independent and effective. For this reasons I am very pleased we have secured the opportunity to debate these issues in public.”