There’s an interesting machinery of government story over at the Watch; we’ve pointed out the importance of cabinet committees in the Whitehall system before, and this particular change probably explains a lot of the turn towards a hard-right cuts agenda.
The Watch points out that there isn’t that much difference between the new public expenditure committee (PEX) and the old version (PSX)…unless you look at it in coalition terms. It consists of 8 Tories and Danny Alexander, and the very odd suggestion of making all departments justify their spending to Foreign Secretary William Hague has apparently been operationalised by putting him on the committee.
The main purpose of this would appear to be that it lets the Tories dictate cuts to the Chief Sec, holding him to collective Cabinet responsibility, and have him essentially discipline both their own ministers and the two LibDem spending departments.
Meanwhile, on the topic of the machinery of government, I am beginning to think that there’s an unreported story about how the whips’ office is functioning. It’s fundamental to the functioning of a coalition in British politics that it must have a common whip, but going to the point of actually accepting the Tory whip would be close to the point of giving up the Lib Dems’ independent existence.
So how does the interworking between the two sets of party whips happen? This is a story that can really only be covered by a parliamentary beat reporter….