Boris Johnson urged to create a 'Prime Minister's department'

Boris Johnson urged to strip Treasury of powers and create a ‘Prime Minister’s department’ to tighten grip on Whitehall, according to commission that also recommends hiring non-politicians as ministers

  • New department would take power and staff from Treasury and Cabinet Office
  • Also suggests PMs get power to appoint ministers from outside politics 
  • Idea is likely to raise concerns over accountability if they are not MPs or peers

Led by Lord Herbert, the former policing minister it controversially also suggests Prime Ministers be able to appoint ministers from outside the ranks of MPs and peers, according to the Times.

Boris Johnson has been advised to create a Prime Minister’s Department to centralise Downing Street control over Whitehall.

The new department would take powers and ministers from the Treasury and the Cabinet Office under plans put forward by a cross-party review due to be published next week.

Led by Lord Herbert, the former policing minister it controversially also suggests Prime Ministers be able to appoint ministers from outside the ranks of MPs and peers, according to the Times.

The idea, which has echo of the Government of All the Talents (goats) idea of Gordon Brown in the mid 2000s, is likely to raise concerns over accountability.

But such powers would hand the same patronage powers to the PM that US presidents hold. They are able to appoint ministers who sit neither in the House of Representatives or the Senate. 

The new department would take powers and ministers from the Treasury and the Cabinet Office under plans put forward by a cross-party review due to be published next week.

Under the plans the Chief Secretary to the Treasury would be removed from the Treasury and become a minister in the PM’s new department.

The role, held by Steve Barclay, is currently the deputy of the Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The Times reported that the report will say: ‘The government cannot be strategic without organising its centre to provide the necessary leadership.

‘No serious corporate would attempt to separate strategy about goals and activity from the strategic planning of resources.

‘Decision-making processes and ways of working do not support the prime minister and Cabinet effectively enough in taking decisions.’

Mr Brown appointed his ‘goats’ when he became PM in 2007. They were non political figures but were given seats in the Lords to allow accountability and transparency.

They included the Apprentice host and businessman Alan Sugar and Lord Ara Darzi, a surgeon who was appointed to lead the reform of the NHS.

Of the four appointments, only one lasted more than two years before resigning. Lord West, the former First Sea Lord, remains in the House of Lords to this day. 

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