This morning I gave evidence to the Public Administration Committee in the Commons as part of their inquiry into Smaller Government: What Do Ministers Do? I appeared with Peter Riddell, now of the Institute for Government, and Robert Hazell, who runs the Constitution Unit at University College London.
I produced a memorandum and used that as the basis for what I had to say. My principal points can be summarised as:
* There are too many ministers, both in absolute and relative terms.
* The emphasis has been on quantity for the sake of patronage rather than quality for the sake of good governance.
* The growth of the so-called ‘payroll vote’ has strengthened the position of Government at the expense of the House of Commons.
* There is a need to move from many ministers to fewer and better-trained ministers.
* Some tasks can be jettisoned and others taken on by whips and, if necessary, more junior ministers in the Lords.
It was a very useful session. I enjoyed it.