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Special Advisers

Volume 301: debated on Wednesday 19 November 1997

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What are the principal provisions of the contracts of special advisers; and what steps he is taking to ensure that they do not undermine the integrity and impartiality of the civil service. [15101]

The model contract for special advisers sets out the terms and conditions under which they are employed. For the first time under this Government a copy was placed in the Library of the House in June. It distinguishes clearly the role and responsibilities of special advisers and reinforces the integrity and impartiality of the permanent civil service.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that reply. What action is he taking to ensure that, where statements by special advisers are dishonest, misleading and inaccurate, disciplinary action is taken? I refer in particular to matters relating to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Is it not important that the traditional professionalism of the civil service is in no way undermined by the activities of special advisers?

It is absolutely essential that the political neutrality and integrity of the civil service is maintained. The draft contracts make that quite clear. They also lay out quite specifically the terms and conditions under which the special advisers operate, and make it quite clear that they can be more free in speaking to the press on political matters.