This section outlines the need for a range of consultation on Cabinet and Cabinet committee papers and the process for consultation, including:
- the process for departmental consultation, which includes consultation with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), the State Services Commission (SSC) and the Treasury, on matters of general importance, on the impact on population groups, and on other cross-government issues
- the process for consultation with interest groups
- the process for Ministerial consultation, including consultation with the Minister of Finance.
For information on the consultation and operating arrangements of the 2014 National-led Administration, refer to Cabinet Office Circular CO (15) 1 National-led Administration - Consultation and Operating Arrangements.
Departments that own the preparation of a Cabinet paper are responsible for ensuring that appropriate consultation is undertaken, that other departments are given reasonable time to comment, and that their views are accurately reflected in the paper. Consultation will ensure that Ministers receive sound, comprehensive, and co-ordinated policy advice, enabling them to have all relevant information in front of them when they take decisions.
The Cabinet Office is authorised to refer a paper back to the Minister who signed it if consultation appears to have been inadequate. An item will not be included on a Cabinet or Cabinet committee agenda until any uncertainty about consultation has been resolved, particularly around consultation with the Minister of Finance.
When departments know that an issue is under discussion that they have an interest in, they should take steps early in the process to bring their interest to the attention of the drafting department. Smaller departments need to use their networks actively to ensure that their interests are known by others. Drafters need to address the following questions when considering which departments will need to be consulted on a particular paper:
- does this issue require consultation with departments responsible for advising the government on key general issues (e.g. legal implications and human rights, financial and fiscal issues, and the overall co-ordination of government policy)?
- which departments have a specific policy or operational interest in this issue?
Departments that have been consulted need to think about the implications of any proposals for their associated agencies and, in turn, consult those agencies before formulating their response to the lead department.
The consultation section of the template for policy papers provides guidance on presenting consultation information, and the sections on the process for uploading submissions to CabNet and lodging highly classified submissions with the Cabinet Office contain information on recording consultation on papers.