Social Audit Ltd
P O Box 111 London NW1 8XG
Telephone/Fax 44 (0)171 586 7771


Mr Roy Alder, Head of Executive Support
Medicines Control Agency
Market Towers, 1 Nine Elms Lane
London SW8 5NQ

26 July 1999

Dear Mr Alder,

Thank you for your letter of 23 July, responding to my letters to you (25 June) and Mrs Thyer (22 June). There was no enclosure with it.

You wrote that "the CSM … is an advisory non-departmental public bodies (ANDPB) as opposed to an NDPB" - but to avoid confusion I'll stick to Cabinet Office terminology: the CSM is an advisory NDPB.

You say you have reviewed the CSM Code against the Cabinet Office model code of practice for board members of NDPBs, "and we consider it to be fully consistent". However, the CSM Code merely "guides members of the Medicines Commission and associated committees as to the circumstances in which they should declare an interest in the pharmaceutical industry". By contrast, the Model Code covers a range of other issues, including public service values, standards in public life, role of board members, personal liability and role of the chair - as well as handling conflicts of interest.

For example, the model code suggests that Board members "must ensure that the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information (including prompt responses to public requests for information) is adhered to" - but all the evidence I have points in the opposite direction. Has the CSM's Code changed in any way since the CSM Chairman wrote to me saying "the Committee's arrangements for disclosure … are not covered by the Code of Practice for Open Government"?

For the record, I don't agree with your decision to refuse an internal review, following Mrs Thyer's response to my requests of 11 June to you and Dr Jones. Whether or not I get the information requested can wait until the Ombudsman has reported - but I was complaining that Mrs Thyer gave no evidence she had thought about the express basis of my request, that the public interest lay in disclosure. Too subtle perhaps ...

As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,
Charles Medawar


Contents page
List of correspondence with MCA/CSM