The Guardian from London, Greater London, England on July 28, 1978 · 3
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The Guardian from London, Greater London, England · 3

London, Greater London, England
Issue Date:
Friday, July 28, 1978
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HOME NEWS THE GUARDIAN Friday July 28 1978 All party committee attacks failure to increase accountability Backbench MPs ciiticise lack of control Wet CMI Service By Richard Norton-Taylor In the latest display of growing anger among backbench MPs about their lack of control over Whitehall, an all-party Commons ' committee- yesterday issued a damning report on the i Government's failure - to pro-J mote any serious attempt to i make the .Civil " Service more I accountable and more eflicient. " The report also reveals that J the Government has rejected the MPs' proposal that sanc-i tions -should be introduced to. J prevent the corruption of civil i servants.' by controlling jobs offered' to' them once they have J left Whitehall. In a letter to the committee, liord Peart, Jjord Privy Seal and Minister ; responsible for 5 the CiviL Service, says it would J be difficult' ""'tq i devise any ! effective, legal sanction" to -.control the abuse of inside information on the grounds that this would mean .introducing - legislation affecting people who v had never ' been public ' ser- - vants. i That explanation did not ..satisfy .the MPs and Mr j Michael English, Labour MP ,.for Nottingham West and-chairman of the Commons expenditure sub-committee, yesterday described the Govern-' ment's official reply to their '! proposals for Whitehall reform . John Garrett " public accountability " -,a"lnaocuDate,, cheap ?and fee-.-ble. "Bumble on as before is the wilted clarion call," he said. The committee's recommendations published a year ago ranged from Civil Service recruitment to making the Treasury more answerable to Parliament. The Government's decision wrapped up in a White Paper released in March to reject, evade or postpone all the, MPs' significant proposals had merely had. the effect of hardening the committee's , attitude, Mr English added. -. In an acid comment, he said : "We are bound to notice -the contrast between the alacrity with which. our recommen- Nicholas Ridley "biased advice" dations on 'pay.' were--accepted and the treatment of less palatable recommendations, such as the one designed to prevent the corruption of civil servants by controlling the offer of outside jobs to them." Mr Nicholas Ridley, Conservative MP for Cirencester and Tewkesbury, referred to an example of such abuse during the course of a heated session of the committee, attended by Lord Peart and Sir Ian Bancroft, "head of -the- Home Civil Service; on April.' 18. ".What is particularly1 worrying'.' about it is that the" civil servant had been promised a job after retirement in exchange for which he gave me biased advice whilst .in post, thinking he would be certain to be able to collect . his reward later 'on," Mr Ridley- said. The expenditure committee also points out that while the Government insisted that the Comptroller and' Auditor General, Whitehall's chief financial watchdog, should be independent it was later admitted that he is subject to the direction of the Treasury. Existing statutes also show that in the event of a dispute between the C and. AG and an individual Whitehall department, the Treasury has the final say. The report, drafted by Mr John Gdrrett (Labour MP for Norwich . .South), says the Exchequer and Audit Department is " insufficiently independent of the Executive, particularly cf the Treasury and the Civil Service Department, to be able to act as Pari lament's main instrument of public accountability." , The MPs point out that the Government virtually ignored their proposal to set up specific accountable units in Whitehall to see, for instance, whether poverty or urban aid programmes were effective and rejected their proposal to simplify the tax system. Twelfth Report from the Expenditure Committee, HMSO, 1.75p. ifws ; is Elizabeth Bostic, who died yesterday, with her son Simon in happier times. The occasion was Simon's second birthday, just over five years ago. Marrow boy's mother dies By Nikkl Knewstub MRS ELIZABETH BOSTIC, the mother of the first child to be given a successful bone marrow transplant, died in hospital yesterday after an overdose of drugs. Simon Bostic, aged seven, whose life was saved by the transplant in 1973, is in the children's section of Westminster Hospital, London, where his mother died. He was admitted with a chest infection, but the hospital said yesterday that he was improving. A post-mortem examination was being carried out on Mrs Bostic, aged 34, who was admitted to hospital two weeks ago. Her husband, Roger, of Welham Green, Hertfordshire, broke the news to Simon yesterday. Mr Bostic said later :." Liz's death was just a' terrible accident. She had been ill herself for quite some time, and had to take drugs during the day. " On top of this, she was having to have pills to help her relax and get some sleep at night. Simon has been ill for six weeks with pleurisy, and Liz was becoming' increasingly worried for him. She was so upset and mixed up that she made a terrible mistake." Mr Bostic said that his wife had been unconscious for a fortnight. "She would never have done this on purpose," he said. " She was a fighter, she loved Simon so much she would never give up. All our married life the odds have been stacked against her. . "When we learned that Simon had the same bone marrow deficiency from which Andrew, our first baby, died, it was Liz's determination that led to a donor being found. The doctors said the chances of finding one were one in 50,000, and if we didn't, Simon would die," said Mr Bostic. " He had no resistance or defence to bacteria and could die even if he caught a cold. Liz looked after him, protected him, fought for him. Her whole life revolved around Simon. She organised a national campaign Simon's marrow donor, Mrs Joan MacFarlance, of Cambridge, went to see Mrs Bostic after she was admitted to hospital. She said yesterday: " It was terrible to sec her lying there unconscious, when only a few weeks earlier I had been talking to her and she was so full of life." Last night Dr David .Tamos, consultant pathologist at Westminster Hospital and a member of the transplant team that carried out Simon's operation, said : " The death of Mrs Bostic is a tragic loss for Westminster Hospital." Her " crusade " by bringing the matter to the public eye created the impetus to form such a bone marrow panel, he said. Hume opposes call for women priests .,By Baden Hickman, .-, .Churches Correspondent ;. Cardinal Hume, Archbishop ,.of Westminster, today joins the Orthodox Church in trying to dissuade the Lambeth Confer--ence of world-wide Anglican "bishops from coming out in r favour of women priests. He says that on such an im-portant matter it would be a ''great pity if one Church were : to go ahead without con-' sulfation and encouragement from other churches, particularly the Orthodox. The Lambeth bishops are to discuss the -; controversial subject on Mon--.:day. - Ecumenism, the Cardinal :says, in an interview in the ;i Church Times the leading Church of England weekly .was not a question, of relationship between different vAnglican, Roman Catholic and Free Churches. It had to include the Orthodox as well. .'The Churches also had to be !jnore sensitive to each other, r " My fear would be," he adds, " that if the Anglican Church proceeds it will divide ? itself. I think this would hinder the dialogue. Quite how it would affect our own attitude's I find it much more difficult to" ' say. My own private view would be that in the short-term I fear that our dia-Ipgue would suffer ; about the . long-term consequences I would be less certain.". ' Roman Catholics did not feel they had the right to change the .practice of an all-male priesthood which had been con stantih both the Eastern and Western Church since the beginning, in the same interview, Car dinal Hume is- asked how seri ously an undertaking he thinks it might be to overcome the Bull of Leo XlU which de clared Anglican orders null and void. He says the history and background of the Bull had got to be gone into again very carefully. "We. need to study it to dis cover whether the historical background ' upon which it was worKingfand tue argumentation upon which it was based, is consonant with historical and theological truth as theologians and .historians see it today." I A flying reptile discovered By James Lewis A FOSSILISED flying rcptilo , thought to be 250 million ' years old has been dug up by ' natural historians on Tyne. ' side. They think it may be ' the oldest gliding vertebrate ' ever found in Britain, if not '. in' the world. The specimen is about 8 ' inches long, but lacks the .skull, fore. limbs and part of '" the tail. Its full length would have been 15 to 16 inches ' and the enormous elongation 'of its ribs suggests that the ':' animal could support a mem-' branc to enable it to glide .through the air rather like - the modern Draco lizard, the . " flying dragon ' of the Far ; East ; The discovery was made by , Mr Tim Pettigrew and Mr Derek Hall who were digging ', among pcrmian rocks at - Eppleton quarry near Hctton--; le-Hole in Tyne and Wear. .v Artists arc now preparing impressions of the animal , which, it is hoped, will be identified at a symposium on - vertebrate Palaeontology Hospital ' sent sick girl home' Sheffield Royal Hospital is to be sued by a man whose 15-year-old daughter was sent home five hours after an operation. Mr Peter Turver, aged 42, of Hunters Bar, bhemeld, sain that when his daughter Elizabeth was brought home by ambulancemen, she was still only partly conscious from the anaesthetic and her operation wounds had saturated the bandages. He was so concerned that he had her admitted to a private nursing home the same night. Mr Turver is claiming damages and the cost of Elizabeth's private treatment from the - hospital. Elizabeth is still at the nursing home, 10 days after the operation to rectify a limp caused by an accident three years earlier. She returns to hospital today to have the stitches removed. Initially, said Mr Turver, the hospital had told him that his daughter would be detained for five-to-seven days. This the hospital denies. MPs win damages for Daily Mail libel n Eight MPs yesterday accepted undisclosed damages in settlement of a High Court libel action over a newspaper article which accused them of having pooi attendance records in Parliament. ; The eight were Mr William Grieve (C, Solihull) ; Mr Gerald Fowler (Lab, The Wrekin); Mr Michael Hamilton (C, Salisbury) ; Mr Stephen Hastings (C, Mid-Beds)) ; Mr Dennis Walters CC, Westbury) ; Mr Tom Bradley (Lab, Leicester E) ; Mr John Moore (C, Croydon Central) ; and Mr Ivan Lawrence (C, Burton). - They had sued the Associated Newspapers Group, Paily. Mail Editor Mr David English, and political correspondent, .Mr Anthony Bevins over a Mail article last April beaded " The Missing MPs." . Mr Leon Brittan, QC, for all eight MPs told Mr Justice Milmo that the-, Mail article alleged that .back-bench MPs had one of- the . worst absenteeism records in Britain, and the names of 2fi members, including the . plaintiffs, were given. The foundation of the allegations was an analysis of the participation of MPs during 1976-7 in making speeches and asking- questions ' in the Chamber, and taking part in the work of Standing and Select Committees. The article did not take into account the plaintiffs' particular circumstances, nor the nature and extent of their duties and activities as MPs., said Mr Brittan. ' He said the article also did not make it clear that voting in the House of Commons was as important a part of an MP's duties as speaking, or that a member, might in any event only speak if he caught the Sneaker's eye. All the plaintiffs had good voting records, he added. Mr . Brittan said the defendants now recognised that it was wholly unjustified to allege that any of the plaintiffs had neglected ' their duties. They had paid . each MP his Jen! costs as well as damages. 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