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Friday 08 July 2022

Next Prime Minister must “restore trust in the integrity of government”

Following the announcement of the Prime Minister's intention to resign, FDA General Secretary Dave Penman has urged the incoming leadership to take the required steps to protect public servants from abuses of power. In his latest column for Civil Service World,  Penman argued that “a new Prime Minister needs to quickly restore trust in the integrity of government and the conduct of ministers”.  

“They do not need to reinvent the wheel, just do exactly what it says on the tin, and quickly implement in full the recommendations from the Committee on Standards in Public Life.”

Prior to the announcement, Penman had argued that the extraordinary letter from former senior civil servant Lord Simon McDonald to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards - stating that the Prime Minister was aware of previous allegations made against former Deputy Chief Whip Christopher Pincher prior to appointing him - yet again highlighted the government’s inability to adequately deal with complaints from employees.  He told Sky News that the Prime Minister failed in his duty of care to public servants, and seemed to choose political expediency over their safety.  

The General Secretary had previously told BBC News that the buck stops with the Prime Minister when it comes to questions of ministerial conduct, as they are the only ones with the power to investigate, appoint or sack a minister, continuing “you cannot imagine in any other circumstances an employee being found guilty of such charges and remaining in their post”.

When Penman spoke to Matt Frei on Channel 4 News he argued that standards in government will not improve until both the House of Commons authorities and the government take steps to change the culture at Westminster. Penman called on the Speaker of the House of Commons to introduce “sweeping new powers” to ban individual MPs accused of sexual harassment from the parliamentary estate, and added that when it came to government, “we fundamentally need an independent process for dealing with complaints against ministers”. 

On this subject, Penman also spoke to TalkTV with Julia Hartley-Brewer and John Pienaar on Times Radio.

25th May 2022
Catch up on speeches from FDA General Secretary Dave Penman, First Civil Service Commissioner Gisela Stuart, and ITV Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana
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