Monday, 10 February 2014

Have we reached a watershed with advisers

Who's to blame for the water chaos in England? Eric Pickles has apologised by saying
"I think we recognised we should have dredged .... I'm really sorry we took the advice, we thought we were dealing with experts"
Yet the Met Office's chief scientist argues climate change  has probably contributed to the awful weather that has been seen.

Meanwhile, Lord Smith of the Environment Agency blamed the Treasury's strict cost-benefit rules.

So Eric Pickles, presumably acting on advice, has pointed the finger at the government for listening to advisers, the government's meteorological advisers have pointed to the climate change, the Chairman of the Environment Agency has pointed to the HMT advisers who developed/apply the cost/benefit model. That's a lot of finger pointing with only Eric Pickles, 'advisedly' saying mea culpa. I wonder will some smart QC provide legal advice to those who have suffered on who should be asked to pay the costs?  

Isn't it true though that Ministers have to seek out best advice, weigh up the options and form a judgement? Will we now see a reduction in the role of advisers - on the contrary, if anything, I think what is required is the need for a wider range of advice from those with a pedigree to give it, including from those who aren't prepared to just tell Ministers what they want to hear.

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