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List of Ministerial Responsibilities

Volume 498: debated on Wednesday 28 October 2009

5. What the cost to her Department was of the (a) production and (b) distribution of the most recent list of ministerial responsibilities. (295978)

The list of ministerial responsibilities is produced in-house in the Cabinet Office, the costs of which are met from within the existing Cabinet Office budget. They are not, I am afraid, separately identifiable.

The Cabinet Office booklet helpfully ranks Cabinet Ministers in order of importance—No. 1 being the Prime Minister, No. 2 being the Leader—[Interruption.]

Order. One would have thought that the hon. Gentleman’s colleagues would want to listen to his question and that it would be courteous to do so.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Back to the ranking of the Cabinet: No. 1 is the Prime Minister, No. 2 is the Leader of the Commons and No. 3 is the Lord Mandelson, who is more important than the Chancellor, the Home Secretary, the Foreign Secretary, the Justice Secretary and the Defence Secretary. In fact, the Defence Secretary is listed as the third least important—[Interruption.]

I was waiting for the punch line. The ranking of ministerial offices reflects the significance and importance of the responsibilities carried by the post-holders within the Government. No one is in doubt about the significance of the contribution made, and the responsibility carried, by Lord Mandelson.

Ministerial lists have to be reprinted frequently because of the Government’s obsession with changing the machinery of government. Since 2005, the Department for Trade and Industry has had four incarnations, the Department for Education and Skills and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have been split up and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills abolished—the list goes on. Does the Minister agree that those reorganisations are unnecessary and expensive, and staff time would be better spent working on policy and problems than on changing the headed paper?

If it were only as trivial as changing the headed paper, yes, but modern government has to be flexible, with the capacity to respond to new and changing demands. That is what the machinery of government changes are designed to do.