141338 - Northern Ireland Office: Training (Answered)

Hywel Williams
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what training his Department has provided to (a) general civil servants, (b) fast stream civil servants and (c) senior civil servants on understanding the scrutiny and legislative roles of the UK Parliament; how many such courses have taken place; and how many civil servants have attended such training courses in each of the last five years.

Mr Shailesh Vara

All Civil Servants

All Civil Servants have access to the central learning offer provided through Civil Service Learning. There are one-day workshops on Understanding Parliament, which are delivered at Foundation (introduction) and Practitioner (advanced) levels. Both of these workshops cover Parliament’s scrutiny and legislative roles. Dedicated training sessions covering specific topics are also available. These include Introduction to Parliament, Select Committees, Debates and Voting, Pre and Post Legislative Scrutiny, Parliamentary Questions, Delegated Legislation, and Primary Legislation. A half-day workshop is available on producing effective explanatory memoranda to accompany secondary legislation. The Cabinet Office’s Parliamentary Business and Legislation Team provide training to Bill Teams. The Government Legal Department and Parliamentary Counsel run a course on Dealing with Parliamentary Bills for Lawyers, which covers parliamentary stages and handling. Stand-alone events are run, e.g. during Parliament Week. Bespoke sessions for government departments are available on request. It is well established that people need just-in-time training and resources to help them while on the job, so Civil Service Learning provide on-line resources, such as weblinks, guides and videos. There is an e-learning course on Understanding Parliament, and access to two Massive Open On-Line Courses (on Understanding Parliament and Select Committees) which have been produced in partnership between the House of Commons and Future Learn, a digital education platform owned by the Open University.

Fast Stream Specific

Fast Stream Civil Servants receive a Parliament workshop during their induction, covering the role of Parliament in scrutinising government policy. For Policy Professionals, a Fast Stream Base Camp includes an optional workshop which focuses on the legislative process in both Houses, typical timetables and roles of Ministers, Bill Teams and civil servants in delivering legislation.

SCS Specific

For Senior Civil Servants, a tailored a one-day workshop, Leading in Parliament, is available, which covers Parliament’s role, powers and relationship with government, the day-to day work of MPs and Peers. A workshop delivered jointly between Civil Service Learning and HM Treasury is provided for Accounting Officers. Civil Service Learning provides a workshop specifically for Senior Responsible Officers with responsibility for secondary legislation. Every department has an SCS Parliamentary Champion. There is a buddy system in place between Parliamentary Champions and senior House staff.

In addition, the Centre for Applied Learning, the learning provider used by the Northern Ireland Civil Service, provides a number of courses on legislation, which are available to staff in my department.

My department does not hold central training records for Northern Ireland Office officials in respect of these subjects.