21 November 2000

Alison Halford (Delyn):

Would the First Minister make a statement about the appointment procedure and accountability of special advisers within the Welsh Assembly. (OAQ7908)

The First Minister:

Special advisers are appointed in accordance with the Civil Service Order in Council 1995 as amended in March 1999. They are accountable to their appointing ministers for the way in which they serve the objectives of the National Assembly for Wales. You will be aware that our special advisers were appointed in open competition and that advisers have never been appointed in that way before.

Alison Halford: That is exactly what I wanted to hear. I congratulate you on the fact that you have appointed your advisers in an open and fair way. Will you ensure that all special advisers are appointed in that way in future?

The First Minister: I can give that assurance on behalf of the partnership Government also. We anticipate that there will be two Liberal Democrat special advisers and I understand that they will be appointed through open competition in the same way as our original four—now reduced to three—were appointed.

David Davies: Does the First Minister have any plans to appoint a special adviser to the opposition parties so that we might have some idea about the important Cabinet statements that are made in our name before the press hears about them?

The First Minister: I am sorry if David Davies is making such an admission on his own behalf. I had always thought that he suffered from delusions of adequacy. He has proved it by saying today that without a special adviser he is unable to keep up with the pace of the partnership Government of the National Assembly.

Jocelyn Davies: Do you consider these as political appointments? If not, why not?

The First Minister: They are political appointments. We took the initiative last year to ensure that within the overall description of political appointments, you can apply the principles of transparency, merit and the guidance of the civil service code on appointments to special advisors, just as you can to regular established civil servants. 

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