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Government Transparency and Accountability

Volume 651: debated on Wednesday 19 December 2018

Since 2010, the Government have been at the forefront of opening up data to allow Parliament, the public and the media to hold public bodies to account. Such online transparency is crucial to delivering value for money, cutting waste and inefficiency, and to ensuring every pound of taxpayers’ money is spent in the best possible way.

In December 2017, the Prime Minister wrote to Cabinet colleagues setting out her priorities to progress the Government’s transparency agenda. In support of this agenda, the Cabinet Office has created a central transparency data team to oversee transparency leads and publishers across central Government Departments.

Progress has been made by central Government Departments in publishing core transparency data. The Government also continue to look at how the range of information published by Government can be improved and made as useful as possible to the public, press and Parliament.

The following subject areas include documents and data that the Government are due to publish, or which have recently been made available.

Diversity in public appointments

In the public appointments diversity action plan published in December 2017, we published diversity data on current public appointees for the first time and committed to updating this annually. Figures for 2018 were published on 3 December 2018 on alongside the report from the Lord Holmes review about opening up public appointments to disabled people.

Ministerial transparency

Alongside the routine quarterly ministerial data on external meetings, gifts, hospitality and overseas travel, the Government are publishing today an updated list of ministerial responsibilities.

The Government are publishing an annual update to the salaries of Ministers, which confirms the entitled and claimed salaries for ministerial posts, and reflects the ministerial pay freeze since 2010.

The Government are also making available the agenda and the meeting notes of July’s co-ordination committee meeting between the Government and the DUP.

Transparency of senior officials and special advisers

Special advisers are a critical part of the team supporting Ministers. They add a political dimension to the advice and assistance available to Ministers while reinforcing the impartiality of the permanent civil service by distinguishing the source of political advice and support. The Government are currently reviewing how special advisers’ terms can be made clearer and more consistent, such as by adopting a guide on parental leave rights. The Cabinet Office will today be publishing the annual list of special advisers and their costs.

Departments are also publishing routine quarterly data on gifts and hospitality received by special advisers, as well as information on special adviser meetings with senior media figures.

Alongside quarterly data on the travel, expenses and meetings of senior officials and on business appointment rules advice, the Government are also publishing the annual list of salary details for senior public officials in Departments and arm’s length bodies earning £150,000 and above, reflecting the enhanced scrutiny we have put in place for these most senior posts.

Transparency in the civil service

The Government will be publishing new annual figures on gender pay differentials across the civil service. The overall civil service gender pay gap continues to narrow and we will continue to work hard to balance out wages at all levels of government.

The Government will be publishing the civil service people survey results. The people survey is an annual survey of our employees’ attitudes and experiences of working in the civil service. The survey ran across 102 civil service organisations in October. A total of 302,170 people participated in the survey, an overall response rate of 66.4%.

The Government will also be publishing the 2018 fraud landscape annual report, which is part of their continuing commitment to be transparent in the way that they fight fraud in the public sector. The report highlights the progress the Government are making as part of their strategy to find more fraud in central Government, by initiatives such as raising standards and building counter-fraud capability.

The Government will also be publishing the annual state of the estate report, which gives an overview of progress made on improving the efficiency and sustainability of the Government estate during 2017-18.

Copies of the associated documents will be published on and will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.