Ministerial Responsibility and Next Steps Agencies

  • Robert Pyper


Proposals for the creation of the ‘Next Steps’ executive agencies seemed to carry with them the possibility of significant change to the theory and practical operation of the doctrine of individual ministerial responsibility. As we have seen in the previous chapter, in its unpublished version, the Ibbs report is said to have proposed fundamental managerial and constitutional change, involving, inter alia, the abandonment of individual ministerial responsibility in its traditional form. (Hennessy, 1989, 620) The published report, heavily influenced by the Treasury and Downing Street, was more muted, but still veered between flirting with a form of constitutional radicalism which implied the need to rethink extant notions of ministerial responsibility, and an obvious desire to placate constitutional traditionalists. Compare and contrast the following extracts from the published version:

Clearly ministers have to be wholly responsible for policy, but it is unrealistic to suppose that they can actually have knowledge in depth about every operational question. The convention that they do is in part the cause of the overload we observed. We believe it is possible for Parliament, through ministers, to regard managers as directly responsible for operational matters. (Efficiency Unit, 1988, para. 23)


Parent Department Chief Executive Ministerial Responsibility Policy Advice Efficiency Unit 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Pyper

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