Francis Maude, Minister for Procurement, to Stand Down at Election

Francis Maude, who amongst other responsibilities is, in effect, the UK Government's Minister for Public Procurement, has announced that he will stand down at the election in May this year. He won't contest his seat in Horsham, traditionally a safe Tory constituency. He has held his position as Minister for the Cabinet Office since the last election in 2010, which has put him in charge of activities ranging though procurement and shared services to the government's digital programme, to civil service reform, and aspects of national security.

So with his announcement, our first thought was to analyse his contribution to public procurement, and highlight some of his notable achievements and also those areas that haven't particularly worked well (in our opinion at least). But what we would certainly acknowledge is that we have never had a Minister as interested in and involved with procurement as Maude, so there is plenty to talk about.

However, we might put that valedictory on hold for now. When Maude made his announcement, he made some comments about wanting to continue in some sort of public service. "Public service continues to exercise great appeal", in his own words. Bit of a hint there? The commentators have interpreted this as meaning he is looking for a seat in the House of Lords, which would not be unusual for an ex-Minister.

But that leads to an intriguing possibility. If the Tories win the election, might Maude retain some or all of his current responsibilities, but as a Minister sitting in the Lords? He might not keep all of his current portfolio, but there is no reason why he could not keep some sort of "change" role, including perhaps procurement. We suspect Maude might be keen to do this, as he is known to feel that if he isn't personally driving changes through, the forces of civil service (and ministerial) inertia will resist the changes he has wanted to introduce!

However, there is no guarantee that Maude would win that argument and get a role even if he wants to. He has upset enough of his political colleagues and indeed senior civil servants over the last five years that he may not have too many people arguing his corner. And his role is really interesting, challenging and important - so maybe that is a good reason for letting an up and coming Minister have a go, rather than a 60+ year old Lord.

We'll hedge our bets anyway, and refrain from saying too much about Maude's achievements and legacy, just for now. Let's see what happens after May.

First Voice

  1. life:

    A guess, but my view is that he can’t wait to get out. Comparing his personal enthusiasm for day to day, vs say, that he showed for Thatcher’s funeral, and you might think we won’t see his ankles for dust.

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