Francis Maude: A day in the life of a Government minister

Horsham MP Francis Maude
Horsham MP Francis Maude

I thought this week I would give a flavour of a not entirely typical day in my life as a minister.

I always start Monday by going through the week ahead with my team.

We look at the issues that are coming up and how we need to deal with them. We go through the diary for the next fortnight, and any communications that are planned.

Then I embarked on a manic day in which I counted that I had made no fewer than six speeches. That is definitely not typical! The first was at Chatham House, where I was launching CERT-UK - the overarching Computer Emergency Response Team. This is a key organisation to ensure that the UK is as safe as it can be from cyber attack. The internet is a wonderful liberating thing, and it’s been great last month to celebrate 25 years of the World Wide Web. I’m privileged to work with the amazing Sir Tim Berners-Lee, its inventor, who sits on the Transparency Board that I set up and chair. But we are all at risk from attack. We are urging businesses to take proper precautions, while we strengthen the government’s own defences. The CERT is a key means to share information on threats and vulnerabilities.

Then I spoke to a group of civil society organisations about possible data-sharing legislation. There are huge potential public benefits from mixing different data sets together, from informing policy-making better, to targeting intervention more accurately and earlier on families with complex problems, to being better able to counter fraud against the taxpayer.

But there are civil liberty and privacy sensitivity, and I won’t seek to legislate unless we can do so in a way that allays those concerns. Hence this meeting, one of many as we try to thrash out an agreed way forward.

Then another speech on cyber security, this time to a financial services conference. Financial services are of course part of Britain’s critical national infrastructure, so we need to work with the industry to ensure that the country’s payment system can’t be brought to a juddering halt through a cyber attack. As the afternoon wore on, I spoke at a small private seminar on civil service reform, following a really interesting paper published by the Institute for Government. This was good preparation for the House of Commons debate on the civil service taking place this Thursday. As the Minister responsible, I will have to close that debate.

Then a short speech to a collection of people we want to encourage to apply to serve on the boards of public bodies. We want to broaden the range of such boards, especially to increase the number of women who are appointed. Finally a speech about jobs and skills over dinner, and a slump into bed exhausted!