FDA General Secretary Dave Penman was interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Shelagh Fogarty programme yesterday, discussing imminent Government guidance expected to give Ministers power to personally appoint up to ten extra staff to form Extended Ministerial Offices (EMOs). Interviewed alongside Akash Paun from the Institute for Government, Penman said: “When the announcement was made in July we had serious concerns about them being personally appointed by the Minister and the creation of a political group within a department. “But I think the rules as they have been published by the Civil Service Commission address a number of those concerns: it has to be an individual who brings in an expertise, or an experience that’s not currently available; it’s time limited; they have to be managed by an existing civil servant; and there’s greater oversight if any individual has previously worked for the Minister or worked for that political party. I think there’s a sensible set of arrangements that have been brought into play for this, which hopefully address most of the concerns that we had.” Penman admitted that some concerns remain: “What happens when a Minster moves? Do we see a whole group of experts and people that are working closely with the senior management of a department move with that Minister because they’re associated with that Minister? There are some issues about how this is implemented but we are reassured around the checks and balances that have been put in place by the Civil Service Commission.” Hear the full interview
(42 minutes, 39 seconds into the programme)
Penman was also quoted in yesterday’s edition of The Times, which also covered Ministers being able to personally hire political appointees. Referring to concerns that the plan could result in the politicisation of ministerial support, he said: “The danger is that ministerial offices, staffed by personal appointees will ultimately be loyal to their minister, not the taxpayer. Good government involves permanent, politically impartial civil servants supporting current and future ministers without fear or favour on either side.”
The Times story was also picked up in The Mail online and on African information online portal Africanseer.com, with both repeating Penman’s quote.
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