Investigation signalled into number of unfinished public consultations

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MPs are set to probe the number of public consultations ordered by the Government that have come to nothing.

The move comes after The Times reported ministers have commissioned more than 1,600 such exercises since the Conservative general election victory in 2015.

More than 500 of these have not yet been completed, including some 200 started more than two years ago.

They can cost £40,000 each, according to the newspaper, meaning if the figures are correct, that £20,000,000 worth of consultations are yet to be completed.

The Commons Public Administration Committee indicated that it would investigate the situation.

Typically open for about three months, members of the general public can submit comments on proposals for new policy or legislation.

The government should respond within 12 weeks, according to guidelines which state that it should lay out the measures it will take to implement them.

Hundreds of consultations listed on the Government’s website carried the message from officials “we are analysing your feedback”.

Bernard Jenkin, the Tory chairman of the committee, said: “There are many pieces of work that are going too slowly. It is important that we know if the Government cannot contain its current workload.

“The Government should be more open about what it is prioritising.”

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett called the consultations a “huge waste of time and money.”

He told the paper: “We need a government that will act now, on the crisis in our NHS, our schools and social care, instead of kicking things into the long grass.”

The director of the Reform think tank, Andrew Haldenby, added: “Consultations that go nowhere waste the time not only of government officials but the many businesses and individuals that respond to them. Efficient government is realistic about the amount of work it can undertake and able to make decisions.”

Press Association contributed to this report