How Government Action goes wrong…. ‘The report says the department pushed ahead without undertaking basic project approval checks, taking decisions before testing the ideas for feasibility.’

by Julia Evans on September 20, 2011

My comments  and the title are provoked by the report of the Fire service Reorganisation as in the Guardian[i]


From the Guardian report:

– Margaret Hodge, the Labour chair of the Commons committee, said the scheme had been a complete failure.

– No one has been held to account for this project failure

– the careers of most of the senior staff responsible have carried on as if nothing had gone wrong at all,

– and the consultants and contractor continue to work on many other government projects

– the intention of abolishing local control rooms and replacing them with regional centres was undermined from the start because:

-1) the Department for Communities and Local Government lacked powers impose such a framework and

– 2) failed to consult local fire services, despite the costs and potential liabilities they would face from reorganisation.

– The department demonstrated poor judgment in approving the project and failed to provide appropriate checks and challenge.

– Yet no individuals have been held accountable for the failure and waste.

– The department remains unable to say whether that (the restitution) will provide value for money, or provide a more efficient and co-ordinated service in the event of a major emergency


Unusual?  A one-off?              UNFORTUNATELY: NO.


What is operating?

The treatment of human BEINGS as objects in a rational implementation system.

The dreaming up of policies in sealed rooms, probably with sofas, with no connection to the outside world and the way the service actually works.

The use of top-down control to ensure implementation.

The delusion that the top, the Government, can achieve anything, no need to check the limits of their power.

And there is no need for an independent perspective. The Government is invincible.

The failure to do any impact analysis

The failure to do a base-rate analysis so the starting position is known.


All these points underlie what is happening in Mental Health, in Child Protection, in Education, and so on.


The use of King Harry’s autocratic power has been lambasted by Lord Judge.  [Quote from Professor Lord Norton’s blog ‘Lord Chief Justice on the Public Bodies Bill’ here:    Lord Judge, (the current Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales), in a dinner for Her Majesty’s Judges at the Mansion House in July, said that “my deepest concern at the moment is directed to the increased use of what are described as Henry VIII clauses” (i.e. clauses allowing primary legislation to be changed by executive order).  The extent of their use, not least in the 2008-09 session – for which he had the figures – astonished him. (The HPC  and the CHRE  are underwritten by King Harry’s autocratic use of power)]


The Government acknowledges no limits to what it can achieve through the use of top-down power. It can stop parents abusing and murdering their children. It can make the entire population ‘Economically Happy[ii]’ and measure the result. It can make children read and write. And so on.


Impact analyses, despite European Legislation (see the EU Law report[iii] at NCP – National Council for Psychotherapists), are unknown.  See also the Merit of Statutory Instruments XIth report[iv]. There has been no impact analysis of the Government’s decision to move from NHS Psychotherapy Departments and GP’s Counselling Service to the Government’s Happiness Factories (I.A.P.T. )  And the blinkered, Department of Health still boasts of it prowess to achieve.


The establishment of a base rate is unknown.  In Mental Health, it is not known what is the existing rate of Government-defined Practitioner abuse.  Someone, somewhere could research criminal prosecutions.  I know of about 5 over the last 5 years.  And it is my opinion that moving to the Government’s diagnoses (NICE ) and treatments (NICE) and competences (SfH ) would not have stopped any of them. This point is made in the Merit of Statutory Instruments XIth report.


Actually looking at the assumptions behind the Government’s rigid rationality and assuming that human BEINGS are individual, unique subjects would be a good starting point.


Fire service this week – where next?


What else is going to be trashed by Government action?

[i] Reference: Fire service reorganisation was a £500m failure, say MPs

Report published by Commons committee warns getting the system working properly is likely to cost an additional £85m

By Stephen Bates : The Guardian, Tuesday 20 September 2011

[ii] Economic happiness was invented by the Governement’s advisor on treatments of Dis-being or Mental Illhealth: Lord Layard. From bbc news,  17th May 2006  here:

The least happy people in our society are people with a record of mental illness. Three-quarters of people with depression or hyper-anxiety receive no treatment, although psychological therapies exist which can cure over half of these terrible cases. Such therapies should be available free on the NHS.

So a retired Professor of Economics declares who is most unhappy in the UK and how they can be turned into Government-standard subjects with respect to happiness.

[iii] The Regulation of Psychotherapists and Counsellors in the United Kingdom through the HPC: Between State Powers and International Obligations.

Report by Alessandro AMICARELLI JD LLM MBA DHP Phd Doctor of Research in “International Order and Human Rights” Department of “Theory of State”, “SAPIENZA” University of Rome, Italy  available here  for the National Council for Psychotherapists

[iv] The psychologists capitulated was officially rubber-stamped in May 2009.  See the Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee, House of Lords, comments in their Eleventh Report 2008/09 page 3 – summary below – bold added.  They referred the capitulation to a full House of Lords vote as they were not very happy with being asked to rubber-stamp it.   & the Merits Committee’s term of reference given below:


B.  Draft Health Care and Associated Professions (Miscellaneous Amendments and Practitioner Psychologists) Order 2009      Summary: This Order makes a number of amendments to the governance arrangements for the General Dental Council, the Health Professions Council, and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, as well as various consequential amendments. It also introduces, for the first time, statutory regulation of practitioner psychologists throughout the United Kingdom and statutory regulation of pharmacy technicians in Scotland. The Committee has received correspondence from a number of psychotherapists and those practising similar disciplines: while many of the concerns expressed relate to a possible future Order, some of the issues mentioned, such as potential distortion of the market as a result of only regulating part of it, might arise as a result of the current instrument. A number of those currently practising in this field argue that the “one size fits all” approach to the regulation of the health professions will cause significant damage to their profession. They are asking that the Department of Health provide stronger evidence of the need to move away from voluntary regulation and how the policy proposed will increase the protection of the public. In debate, the House may wish to explore these issues further.


The Select Committee on the Merits of Statutory Instruments

The Committee has the following terms of reference:

(1) The Committee shall, subject to the exceptions in paragraph (2), consider—

(a) every instrument (whether or not a statutory instrument), or draft of an

instrument, which is laid before each House of Parliament and upon which

proceedings may be, or might have been, taken in either House of Parliament

under an Act of Parliament;

(b) every proposal which is in the form of a draft of such an instrument and is laid

before each House of Parliament under an Act of Parliament,

with a view to determining whether or not the special attention of the House should be

drawn to it on any of the grounds specified in paragraph (3).

(2) The exceptions are—

(a) remedial orders, and draft remedial orders, under section 10 of the Human

Rights Act 1998;

(b) draft orders under sections 14 and 18 of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform

Act 2006, and subordinate provisions orders made or proposed to be made

under the Regulatory Reform Act 2001;

(c) Measures under the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919 and

instruments made, and drafts of instruments to be made, under them.

(3) The grounds on which an instrument, draft or proposal may be drawn to the special

attention of the House are—

(a) that it is politically or legally important or gives rise to issues of public policy

likely to be of interest to the House;

(b) that it may be inappropriate in view of changed circumstances since the

enactment of the parent Act;

(c) that it may inappropriately implement European Union legislation;

(d) that it may imperfectly achieve its policy objectives.

(4) The Committee shall also consider such other general matters relating to the effective scrutiny of the merits of statutory instruments and arising from the performance of its functions under paragraphs (1) to (3) as the Committee considers appropriate, except matters within the orders of reference of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments.



The members of the Committee are:

Rt Hon. the Baroness Butler-Sloss GBE

The Lord Crisp KCB

The Baroness Deech DBE

The Viscount Eccles CBE

The Lord Filkin CBE (Chairman)

The Lord Hart of Chilton


The Lord James of Blackheath CBE

The Lord Lucas

The Baroness Maddock

The Lord Rosser

The Baroness Thomas of Winchester