Media update: 18 April 2016

FDA on BBC Radio 4's Today in Parliament

FDA General Secretary Dave Penman was interviewed on Radio 4's Today in Parliament, discussing how MPs treat civil servants during Select Committee hearings.

Former Public Accounts Committee Chair Margaret Hodge MP and current Chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Bernard Jenkin MP, also shared their views.

The issue was raised after Home Office Second Permanent Secretary Olly Robbins was asked to leave a Home Affairs Committee session last week, after Chair Keith Vaz referred to Robbins' answers as "unsatisfactory".

Penman told of a meeting to discuss the FDA's concerns with the Chair of a Select Committee, where he "quoted verbatim what members of that Committee had said about civil servants, including questioning their intelligence, and the response from the Chair of that Committee was: 'Well at the end of the day, this is theatre'.

"I think that demonstrates at times what is wrong with approach of some Select Committees. Inevitably, because of the power that Parliament has, there is little control over this and so our complaints quite often fall on deaf ears."

Penman also added that he knew of "cases where individuals have not sought promotion - talented public servants - because with that will come a threat of ritual humiliation at a Select Committee hearing that could be career-defining".