Only an overhaul will do

It is good to see Tristram Hunt ("Turn Whitehall upside down", 4 June) raising questions about the shape of Whitehall after the election. But he doesn't go nearly far enough. Much more needs to be done in the machine as it currently stands - not just putting the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food out of its misery and tidying up the mess the justice system is in, or even cutting the Treasury down to size.

Fresh thinking is needed as to how we link up policy, translation into action, and delivery. Ministers should go back to policy-making, with spheres of interest rather than departments. Policy should be channelled through a public service executive to translate decisions into action, not just in the Civil Service, but in health, education, the police, and so on. This is the way to get rid of the vertical smokestacks, cross-cut government and get at service to the citizen, value for money, and accountability.

Sir Peter Kemp
London SE26

This article first appeared in the 11 June 2001 issue of the New Statesman, There are years of fun to come