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Government Review of the Privy Council Office

Volume 457: debated on Wednesday 7 March 2007

Following a machinery of Government review of the Privy Council Office (PCO), the following management changes will take effect from 2 April 2007:

The private offices of the Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council; the Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal; the Chief Whip in the Commons and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury; and of the Lords Chief Whip and Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms will transfer to the Cabinet Office;

The Privy Council Secretariat and support for the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council will become part of the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA).

The Privy Council and its functions will continue unchanged. My right hon. and noble Friend Baroness Valerie Amos will remain the Lord President of the Council. The Privy Council Secretariat, and support for the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council will retain appropriate identity and branding, and continue to carry out their duties as now. The Privy Council will continue to serve all administrations within the UK, and those private sector bodies which use its services. The Judicial Committee will remain quite distinct from the UK judicial systems.

I periodically review the structure of Departments and arrange responsibilities in the way most suited to responding to current and future challenges. This review determined that the functions of the Privy Council Office would be best served by becoming parts of larger Departments. The Cabinet Office, like the Leaders’ and Whips’ offices, works to co-ordinate and to facilitate the work of Government from a cross-Departmental perspective. The Department for Constitutional Affairs already has responsibility for similar subject areas, such as liaison with the Crown Dependencies and royal hereditary matters, and this is therefore the most appropriate home for the Privy Council Secretariat and the support for the Judicial Committee.