Lessons from Chilcot

Posted on: September 14th, 2016

Our paper on the Chilcot Report (http://www.bettergovernmentinitiative.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Chilcot-lessons.pdf) considers the lessons to be learned from the catalogue of errors it describes that arose from decisions taken without careful examination of the evidence and broadly-based collective consideration.

Chilcot clearly implies that senior officials have a responsibility to ensure that the decision-making process is handled properly and that they should be accountable for failure to do so. We agree. But under the present system they have no authority to go beyond simply implementing Ministers’ instructions on the handling of business.

There is a strong case for something like to the present arrangement for public expenditure, whereby an official who was told not to follow the processes for the conduct of business set out in the Cabinet Manual and supporting documents could seek a written direction which would be disclosed to the Public Accounts Select Committee and the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee.