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UK Politics

Commons committee wants training for ministers


Members of the Cabinet should be given “compulsory” training on how to be good ministers, an influential Parliamentary committee has concluded.

Calling for an end to the British political “habit” of regular ministerial reshuffles, the Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee said that such changes of personnel would be “inconceivable” in the world of business. It recommended that there should be an “expectation” that Cabinet ministers should remain in place for a full five-year Parliamentary term, while junior ministers should stay in post for at least two years.

At the same time there should be compulsory training for all new ministers, continuous professional development for experienced ministers and basic ministerial training for shadow ministers 12 months before the expected date of a general election, it says.

The conclusions of the committee are unlikely to be welcomed in Downing Street. Although David Cameron has carried out noticeably fewer reshuffles than his Labour predecessors, changing personnel is still considered a key way of keeping ministers in line and refreshing the Government in the eyes of the voters. In fact, Tory sources predict the Prime Minister will conduct another reshuffle before the summer recess.

Graham Allen, Chair of the Committee, said governance would be better if Mr Cameron let his current team get on with the job. “Reshuffles hinder Parliament’s ability to hold Government to account. In the UK, we’ve got used to having reshuffles every couple of years, but other countries manage very well without them. Every time there is a reshuffle, it is proceeded by months of speculation about who will move where, which in itself causes a kind of paralysis within Government.”