Border Agency bonuses for failure show why select committees need more power

The Border Agency handing out big bonuses against the recommendations of the home affairs committee highlights the need for greater Parliamentary powers.

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Today has seen another blow for the credibility of parliamentary committees, following the UK Border Agency’s decision to pay out big bonuses against the recommendations of the home affairs select committee.

Keith-VazAfter publishing details of UKBA staff bonuses, chair of the committee Keith Vaz MP said:

“In January 2011, we recommended that no bonuses should be paid to senior staff. Despite this, the permanent secretary has revealed that some staff have been rewarded with bonuses of up to £10,000.

“The payment of bonuses in the midst of failures such as the relaxation of border controls, the inability to clear the asylum backlog and the reluctance to tackle bogus colleges through unannounced inspections must cease. We will continue to monitor the home office’s progress on this throughout the year.”

This is not the first time a parliamentary committee has been largely ignored. Vince Cable controversially went against concerns raised by the business, innovation and skills committee when appointing Professor Les Ebdon as the new Director of the Office for Fair Access.

The culture, media and sport committee’s phone hacking report was vital in bringing the details of the scandal into the open. Likewise, the Public Accounts Committee played a key part in stripping A4e of its government contract following allegations of fraud.

 


See also:

MPs attack Murdochs in damning report into phone-hacking 1 May 2012

Select committee calls on coalition to tackle Britain’s outsourced emissions 18 Apr 2012

A4e’s fall from grace has been in the pipeline for two years 2 Mar 2012


 

Regardless of this good work, parliamentary committees still hold very little power. They are made up of cross-party backbench MPs with the aim to give a balanced critique of the government, yet are given no power to act on their conclusions.

A report on the impact of House of Commons select committees says:

“[Only] 40% of recommendations are accepted by government, and a similar proportion goes on to be implemented.”

While Treasury select committee member Michael Fallon wrote:

Select committees have no legislative or budgetary powers: their influence depends on tough questioning of key witnesses, the authority of their reports and the all-party unanimity behind them… But parliament should be more than a forum.

Fallon suggested two reforms that “could turn our select committees into watchdogs with real teeth”:

• No supplementary estimate should be presented to parliament before it has first been approved by the appropriate departmental select committee.

• To require all major public appointments to be confirmed by the respective departmental committee before being taken up.

In wake of the great work done by the culture, media and sport and public accounts committees, as well as the growing evidence of some recommendations being ignored, haven’t parliamentary committees earned the right to more power?

 


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14 Responses to “Border Agency bonuses for failure show why select committees need more power”

  1. Lance Dyer

    Border Agency bonuses for failure show why select committees need more power //t.co/ZjwFgXh3 Should public sector staff get bonuses?

  2. Shamik Das

    Xclnt article frm @KatieDagger on how the Border Agency bonuses 4 failure scandal shows y select cttees nd more power: //t.co/8t9VD1eX

  3. Political Planet

    Border Agency bonuses for failure show why select committees need more power: The Border Agency handing out big … //t.co/4YJIVUNA

  4. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – Border Agency bonuses for failure show why select committees need more power //t.co/GgPQSXtC

  5. Anotherfive

    The UK Parliamentary Committees should certainly press the Legislature to place all such standing Committees on the same footing as Committees of the Congress in the USA. Woe betide anyone found to have lied to/misled such a Congressional Committee, as that leads on to Federal prison. Contrast that with the actions of News International employees/former employees who gave ‘evidence’ to the Parliamentary Committee….

  6. NYPOLFED

    RT @leftfootfwd: Border Agency bonuses for failure show why select committees need more power //t.co/QgLCUDzv

  7. Ian Spain

    RT @leftfootfwd: Border Agency bonuses for failure show why select committees need more power //t.co/QgLCUDzv

  8. Anonymous

    Technically speaking, it’s already “contempt of the house”. It’s just that hasn’t been enforced for some time. They can also make people take oath, breaking which is perjury.

    It comes down to the Government having the will to enforce this.

  9. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: Border Agency bonuses for failure show why select committees need more power //t.co/1nbEPLls

  10. marko

    Border Agency bonuses for failure show why select committees need more power, writes @KatieDagger: //t.co/FXi6ojnX

  11. PCSWestCroydon

    It’s the wrong argument – in the SCS, unlike ordinary civil servants, a bonus is often a contractual right (best not get me started on that!). Certainly the government have shown a propensity to rip up the contracts of their staff (e.g., the pensions dispute) but it is a little more complicated than thr HASC suggested.

    That said, the payment of bonuses that amount to thousands of pounds at a time when the lower paid civil service is being culled is morally outrageous.

  12. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: Border Agency bonuses for failure show why select committees need more power //t.co/1nbEPLls

  13. Anonymous

    No, it’s very simple. Either contracts are enforceable, or they are not. The government has said not. This works both ways, of course.

  14. Foxy52

    Border Agency bonuses: Select Committees need more power: //t.co/r07Dh7F5 #liaisoncommittee

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