Tick-in-the-box consultation? – A dangerous development for consultation is the trend towards listening because you've been told to do so – rather than because you genuinely want to hear people's views…….
Law-makers have switched on to the idea of consultation, with the result that our legislation is becoming very prescriptive, and requires all kinds of public bodies to consult a vast range of stakeholders.
At one level, this is undoubtedly good news. It recognises that too many decisions taken by well-meaning quangos or civil servants took inadequate account of potential consequences, and too many bodies served the public in their own sweet way with little co-ordination with other parallel organisations. Governments have responded, and MPs have enthusiastically voted for new clauses in Bills – obliging newly-formed bodies to consult properly. Examples include NHS Primary Care Trusts and Crime and Disorder Partnerships in England, and Community Planning responsibilities placed on Local Authorities in Scotland.