Scottish Parliament needs a revising chamber but nothing like the sleazy House of Lords – Brian Wilson

A weighty report on Whitehall’s workings is due on Monday – a left-over from the Dominic Cummings era.

Health Minister Lord Bethell, seen with former head of NHS Test and Trace Dido Harding (Picture: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images)

He may have been wrong about many things but civil service reform was not one of them.

No matter which level of government, the challenge is the same – to translate policies into actions within a reasonable timescale, especially if there are people in the middle whose interest is in making sure they don’t happen.

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One anticipated recommendation is that it should be possible to be a minister without being in either House of Parliament. An example is Kate Bingham who, by common consent, made a great job of running the vaccination programme but could not be vaccinations minister.

An alternative is to make them a Lord or Lady. However, one need only consider Lord Bethell to see what a tainted process that is and why no decent public servant should feel obliged to participate.

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Bethell, a hereditary peer, was a Matt Hancock crony and lobbyist who went to the Lords, became a health minister and is under investigation for fixing a parliamentary pass for Hancock’s paramour. Sleazy does not begin to cover it.

I wish we could have a similar report in Scotland which suffers from the same problems regarding policy formulation and implementation. We certainly don’t want Lords but Holyrood does need a revising chamber with people who know what they are talking about, less constrained by party tribalism.

Come to think of it, a Constitutional Convention which could look at all of these matters and adapt structures of UK-wide government to the age of devolution would be a welcome, if unlikely, development.

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