Reform and Innovation Research

International Department of the Communist Party of China UK study visit: modernizing government, devolution, public services and civil society

15th-17th October 2014

This October, GBCC welcomed a delegation of six senior members of the International Department of the Communist Part of China to London on a study visit. The study visit comprised a series of seminars organised by GBCC on topics of particular interest to the Chinese delegation. These included how the UK government delivers quality public services in a climate of austerity, the devolution of power, pro-independence movements within the UK, and recent UK initiatives in civil society and supporting NGOs.

Chris Last, Head of Civil Services Human Resources, introduced the changing shape of the UK civil services, the reform agenda and capability improvements. Human Resources has recently introduced a new performance management scheme across the Civil Service, introducing common competencies across all sectors. Discussion here focused on insights drawn from the private sector as key to improving efficiency, the development of a public service ethos, and the merits of adopting a market-orientated approach within the Civil Service.

IDCPC Visit 2014 (1)

The IDCPC delegation in discussion with Mark Sweeney at the Scotland Office

With the Scottish independence referendum drawing nigh, the delegation called on Constitution Director Mark Sweeney at the Scotland Office for a highly topical and notably lively discussion on the handling of pro-independence movements in the UK and the balance between central and local power. Sweeney explained to the delegation the unwritten nature of the UK constitution and the notion that the union is based on consent. Discussion centred on the projected impacts of further devolution.

Approaching the theme of devolution from the perspective of civil society, Karl Wilding from the National Council of Volunteering Organisations (NVCO) gave an introduction to the NGO landscape and the role NVCO plays as an umbrella organisation: both championing the NGO sector to government and business, and promoting good practice within the sector itself. Government initiatives designed to promote social consensus, community self-government and the flagship Big Society policy and the powers granted to communities under the 2011 Localism Act were also discussed.

IDCPC Visit 2014 (2)

The IDCPC delegation at the NVCO offices

On the final morning of a busy programme, the delegation met with Stephen Tindale, Associate Director of the Centre for European Reform. After a brief opening on devolved administration, the seminar turned to the issue of Europe. With a particular focus on issues of energy and climate change, the delegation discussed the challenges in attempting to formulate common policy across the EU.

Further sessions approached the relationship between the government and private sector, and measures the UK government has adopted to attract business to the UK and assist UK businesses to be competitive overseas.

Date posted: 26 September 2014

Categories: Political Dialogues

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