In recent years, the Government has attempted to raise the profile of consultation and improve the way it is undertaken, for example by producing the Code of Practice on Written Consultation in November 2000. The Code set out minimum standards of written consultation for central government. Quoted in the forward to the Code, the Prime Minister Tony Blair said "I believe that the message is spreading throughout the administration that better consultation means better results". A report by the National Audit Office argued: "it is important that in order to develop a clear understanding of the issue, departments consult…those who will benefit from the policy or those affected indirectly and those who may have to implement the policy" [From VIEWFINDER: A POLICY MAKER’S GUIDE TO PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT - note: PDF document]
How very interesting given that they admit that Foundation Hospitals and University Fees were policies put together without sufficient consultation - it would appear that they should have listened to their own advice. Also odd to read the above and then hear Peter Hain say variable rate fees are non-negotiable - odd way to do a consultation.