Ministers 'could not run businesses'

News image
It is unlikely government ministers have the skills or background to run a private company, a new survey has claimed.

A questionnaire of chief executives at the UK's top 100 companies pours cold water on government claims of successful management.

Ben Farrugia, policy analyst at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Comparison with the most successful business leaders in the country reveals that the people running public services lack appropriate experience, have near impossible tasks to do and are never in their job for long enough to engage properly with their departments."

The survey found chief executives recommended managers had at least five years in the post for them to get to grips with the task at hand. This flies against a government culture in which secretaries of state are shuffled between departments every two years or so.

John Reid, for instance, spent the years between 1999 and 2007 being secretary of state for Scotland, Northern Ireland, health, defence and home affairs, as well as being leader of the Commons and minister without portfolio.

The average appointment for senior civil servants stands at two years and eight months.

The chief executives also asserted the importance of experience in the sector the organisation works in, but government department are usually so vast and varied it is near-impossible to be properly experienced in the sector.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport, for example, has 63 subsidiaries covering everything from heritage sites to the 2012 Olympics.

The chief executives also valued experience of senior management, leading the Taxpayer's Alliance, who conducted the survey, to point out that none of the current Cabinet have managed a large business, and that only one in seven MPs has any management experience at all.

But Dr Eamonn Butler, director of the free-market Adam Smith Institute, says the two cultures aren't comparable.

"When an executive says something, he expects it to be followed up, but when a minister says something it's the beginning of negotiations," Dr Butler told

"It's one of the reasons business people don't understand Westminster. They assume there's a chain of command. But in politics people have all sorts of different views and things take place through discussion," he added.
© Adfero Ltd
18 July 2008 02:30 GMT

More National News

News image
Turkey bombs Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, reports claim
Turkish fighter jets have bombed Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq, reports clai...
21 May 2010 17:00 GMT
News image
July 7th coroner to investigate role of police and MI5
The coroner charged with conducting the inquest into the deaths of 52 people killed i...
21 May 2010 16:00 GMT
News image
US Senate approves bill to overhaul Wall Street regulations
The US Senate has passed a bill allowing the most significant reforms to the country'...
21 May 2010 15:00 GMT
News image
North Korea says peninsula entering 'phase of war'
North Korea has warned a western-backed report blaming it for the sinking of a South ...
21 May 2010 14:00 GMT

Most Read Today

Content updated: 18/04/2019 11:41


Tell Us Your View

Seen or know something you want to tell us about? Get in touch with us here.