Government’s Decision Making Lacks Transparency, Commons Committee Finds

The House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee has released a damning report highlighting the lack of transparency from the Government on key policy decisions relating to lockdowns. Jade Eloise Norris, a Clinical Trial Senior Research Associate at Bristol University, has written a handy thread on the key points from the report.

The report expresses particular dismay at the unwillingness of Ministers to come before the Committee and justify key decisions made over the last year.

There is a basic expectation that Ministers should be able to justify key decisions through explaining the various data considered. The Committee expected that Ministers would be able to talk us through: 

– the types of data that were considered;

– how public health and other considerations were balanced;

– the governance and accountability arrangements underpinning decisions. 

So it is deeply worrying that Ministers were unable to answer basic questions about the decision to lift the first lockdown. 

Lifting any of the lockdowns must have considered a range of factors, including health, economic and educational outcomes. 

It is, therefore, our judgement that such decisions can only be made by the Centre of Government, in the Cabinet Office or Number 10. When we have asked about these decisions – both in writing and in person – the Cabinet Office has passed the buck to the Department of Health and Social Care. 

This is both confusing and unacceptable because the Department of Health and Social Care is clearly not well placed to make decisions that include wider considerations beyond health.

This passing of the buck continued long after the ending of the first national lockdown. In November, the Treasury admitted that it did not forecast or predict the impact of the second national lockdown on the economy before it came into force. Maybe it thought that this too was the responsibility of the Department of Health and Social Care.

Worth reading in full.