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Ministers' aides 'just too Thick Of It for comfort'.

UK MINISTERS have been urged to be more careful about who they appoint as special advisers to ensure smoother working relations with civil servants and avoid resignation situations worthy of The Thick Of It.

The hit BBC sitcom satirising the inner workings of Whitehall and the so-called spads contains "more than a grain of truth", the head of the cross-party Public Administration Select Committee warned.

Bernard Jenkin, a Conservative MP, said special advisers - taxpayer funded but personally appointed by individual ministers - should be neither "shady characters practising the political dark arts" nor "political bag carriers" for politicians.

In a report entitled Special Advisers In The Thick Of It, the committee called for greater transparency about their appointments, their qualifications for the job and their specific remit.

It called for ministers to take full responsibility, rather than just accountability, for spad activities. The committee urged the Government to state in its guidance that special advisers must not be involved in quasi-judicial matters.

Spads are temporary civil servants who, unlike keenly impartial career civil servants, are usually loyal to one particular minister.

Mr Jenkin said the power of The Thick Of It, which portrays spads as scheming and amoral, lies "in the fact that there is more than a grain of truth in the drama".

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Peter Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker in The Thick Of It
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 14, 2012
Words:225
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