Lord Butler was again publicly commenting on cabinet government yesterday. He was giving evidence before the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee. In particular, he commented upon sofa government and the declining place of collective Cabinet decision making in recent years. But he also discussed the tendency to reorganise Whitehall without any lengthy deliberation – the most recent example being the Home Office (see the earlier blog). As always, he had interesting things to say. But there is always a suspicion of the self-serving civil servant about his observations. Things were better in the old days, when the civil servant was more respected and processes rigorously observed etc. I am always suspicious of suggestions that there was some golden era to which we might look for guidance and inspiration.
Highlights of what he had to say can be heard through last night’s edition of Today in Parliament (listen again at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/bbc_parliament/3081534.stm). The transcript of the evidence will be available from http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmpubadm.htm in the near future.