Politics: Ministers accused of 'government by review'

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The Independent Online
Ministers were accused of "government by review" last night as a full list revealed a total of 54 different such exercises launched since 1 May.

A monitoring exercise by the Conservatives, completed yesterday, shows the extent of the inquiring and investigating which is going on across Whitehall. From the comprehensive spending review, taking in all departments, to the small-scale review of silicone breast implants, almost every aspect of government is involved.

The Conservatives claim there is a stark contrast between the amount of reviewing which is going on and the bold words of the Labour leadership.

Andrew Cooper, director of political operations for theTories, said reviews were a "character-note" of this Government.

"It's become a habit," he said. "The Government which talks about hard choices seems to be extremely adept at punting things into reviews rather than taking decisions. This is a party which had 18 years to prepare for government."

A Downing Street spokesman said there had in fact been plenty of real governing going on. Within days of Labour coming to power the control of interest rates had been handed to the Bank of England. Since then there had been, among many other initiatives, the Windfall Tax, referendums on devolution for Scotland and Wales, the abolition of the Assisted Places Scheme in independent schools, a ceasefire in Northern Ireland, a Referendum Bill for London, health action zones and a Crime and Disorder Bill.

"It isn't unreasonable after 18 years that a new government should look at whole areas of policy. Also, some of the big decisions the government has made were taken in weeks, if not days," he said.

Government reviews

Comprehensive spending review;

Bureaucratic burden on teachers;

Criteria used in considering licence applications for export of conventional weapons;

The law relating to surrogacy; The law relating to silicone breast implants; Proposed NHS Private Finance Initiative schemes; Breast cancer screening services; London health services;

Arrangements for celebrating the millennium; National Lottery; Film policy; Sport on television;

Compulsory Competitive Tendering regulations;

Transport policy; The roads programme; Buses;

Enforcement of rules on welfare of animals exported live to the Continent; Inoculation as a substitute for rabies quarantine; Milk Development Council;

International Development policy;

Economic regeneration in Wales;

Proposals for reform of civil litigation and legal aid; Crown Prosecution Service;

Private finance machinery; Tax and benefits system; The Post Office;

Programme to identify technology opportunities; Effectiveness of export promotion programmes;

Steps to strengthen democratic control of public water authorities in Scotland; Scottish Enterprise; Ways in which social rented housing is supported in Scotland; Skye Bridge tolling arrangements; Transport policy in Scotland; Scottish roads programme;

Code of practice on access to government information; Ministerial accountability; Non-departmental public bodies;

Child Benefit;

Welfare-to-Work task-force;

Social Exclusion Unit;

Family Policy Committee;


Long-term welfare; Disability benefit;

Industrial injuries compensation;

Royal Commission on long-term care;

Admission charging by national museums; Immigration detention policy; The coal industry;

Level of Cabinet salaries;

Party funding;

The handling of the BSE crisis;

Dependent territories;

The electoral system.