Inquiry into consultation guidelines

Openness

not what you say but what you do

In July 2012 the government announced to Parliament that it was changing the consultation guidelines.

A Minister was quoted by BBC News:

The aim is to replace potentially unproductive process with real engagement with those affected.

The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee issued a call for evidence in preparation for a meeting on 11 December 2012 where it will take oral evidence from Mr Oliver Letwin, Minister for Government Policy into the way in which Government develops and implements technology policy.

We have responded.

The headline is that the consultation guidelines were never mandatory and it has always been possible to run the “needs must” argument if a consultation did not comply with the guidelines.

However, the Ministerial statement highlighting the optional nature of the 12 week period and emphasising digital by default, contrary to the declaration, signals a preference for technocratic efficiency and a lack of concern for the importance of proper participation.

Accordingly it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the new policy runs contrary to the spirit if not the letter of openness, good governance and improved polity.

Our full response may be downloaded from here (3 pages, pdf, approx 50kByte).

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