HL Deb 14 January 1998 vol 584 c201WA
Baroness Rendell of Babergh

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they will establish the Strategic Communications Unit, following one of the recommendations of the Working Group on the Government Information Service (the Mountfield Report) published in November last year. [HL122]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Richard)

The Prime Minister is today launching the new Strategic Communications Unit, which will be based in No. 10 and answerable to the Prime Minister (working through the Chief Press Secretary).

The Mountfield Report, a copy of which was placed in the Library, said that more needed to be done to improve strategic communications so that the key government messages are better communicated across government. Departmental initiatives and events need to be presented in such a way as to show their coherence with the main themes of the Government's strategy.

To achieve this, departments must be properly informed of government activity, Ministers must be properly briefed on key government issues at all times, and initiatives must be properly prepared and co-ordinated.

The Strategic Communications Unit will work to achieve that. It will be responsible for the implementation and operation of the new electronic information system which will provide a future diary of government events (Mountfield recommendation 2.3). It will be responsible for managing strategic communications across all departments and will produce the Government's Annual Report on its performance and achievements of its objectives, as announced in August 1997.

The Strategic Communications Unit will comprise six people—two Special Advisers and four civil servants. They are:

  • Alun Evans (Head)
  • Philip Bassett (Special Adviser)
  • David Bradshaw (Special Adviser)
  • James Humphreys
  • Siobhan Kenny
  • Andrew Silverman

The aim of the unit is to make sure events are scheduled, launched and followed through to maintain impact and to convey the central story and themes of the Government in all its communications.