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Secret audit of Coalition pledges offers few clues on progress

9 January 2013

Finally, the copper-bottomed, unvarnished Programme for Government Update, aka the Secret Audit, has landed. You can read the full document here, but in summary, it’s not immediately very helpful. It is laid out as a point-by-point ‘analysis’ of how the government is meeting its pledges in the Coalition Agreement, but the wording is such that you can’t actually tell whether there are any areas on which it has failed.

Reading this document, you’d think everything was pretty hunky-dory with the government as there is no assessment of whether each pledge is completed, underway, or forgotten. This is the assessment of the House of Lords reform pledge:

We published a draft Bill and White Paper on House of Lords reform in May 2011. These were subject to pre- legislative scrutiny by an ad hoc Joint Committee.

The Government responded to the Joint Committee’s recommendations and introduced the House of Lords Reform Bill on 27 June 2012. The Government took the decision not to proceed with the Bill following second reading in the House of Commons and the lack of support for the necessary timetabling motion.

As for the progress on the boundary changes, the document simply says there was a provision for those. It might offer a vague glimmer of hope for Tory MPs pushing for tax breaks for married couples, going a couple of words further on the main Mid-Term Review document:

We have undertaken to bring forward proposals by the end of this Parliament.

But on whether it has flouted certain pledges, the audit is not at all helpful. This, for instance, is what the audit has to say about the pledge on no top-down reorganisations of the NHS:

The measures contained within the Health and Social Care Act 2012 will help deliver better health, better care and better value for money, encouraging greater focus on preventing ill health and empowering local communities to plan services according to local priorities. The modernisation will help the health service to develop from a system of management control to a system where power and decision-making is devolved to the most appropriate level, and has also enabled us to make substantial administrative savings.

There are fewer managers and more doctors in the NHS since the 2010 General Election. The number of people waiting longer than 26 and 52 weeks to start treatment is at its lowest level since records began.

And this is what it says about limiting the number of special advisers:

The numbers of special advisers Ministers can appoint are set out in paragraph 3.2 of the Ministerial Code, published in May 2010.

It’s rather difficult to understand why Patrick Rock was so worried about this document getting out: it answers very few questions.

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Show comments
  • Russell

    I think that far from being not very helpful, it is far more helpful than anything labour did in terms of showing their progress compared to their manifesto pledges (like their pledge not to introduce tuition fees , their pledge in the following government after introducing tuition fees not to increase them, and a whole lot more.,

  • Mombasa69

    25% reduction in the deficit, 1 million new jobs in the private sector (you know the good old private sector the part of the economy that actually pays for everything) This Coalition is actually re-balancing the economy, and eventually this country will have a BALANCED account.

    That’s not bad in only 2 and a half years considering the f**king mess Labour left us in.

    • TomTom

      If only we can re-define schools as “private sector” as with CFE Colleges it could continue……then again, we last had a trade surplus in 1981 when the private sector actually made goods and exported them… we simply have Stagecoach running bus and trains with public subsidy and call it “private” as with Crapita and Serco and all the other Cut Outs that would be bust without taxpayer support.

    • Gareth

      It’s a sad indictment that even on its two ‘headline’ achievements, and even when based on warped statistics, this government has underperformed. Remind me where in the Coalition Agreement it said that ‘25% deficit reduction’ (actually 10%) would be good enough…

  • In2minds

    Just look at Cameron in the picture –

    ‘I’m leaning on the lectern at the bottom of the garden just in case I’m
    required to tell a lie’

    With apologies to George Formby!

  • Rhoda Klapp

    Please sir, Rhoda has a question. What would the world be like if politics were not all about deceiving the people?

    • telemachus

      They can deceive us on boundaries all that they like
      I am with Nick
      No reasonable man wants the Tories gerrymandering the boundaries
      Remember Porter

      • Mombasa69

        What like Labour did lol?

      • Chris lancashire

        It doesn’t seem unreasonable to have equal sized constituencies meaning everyone’s vote is of equal value.


        Isabel, I thought that you were removing trolls such as telemachus? Why is this group of people still posting here, or was it never the intention to prevent trolls posting when you required registration?

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