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Last Updated: Friday, 16 July, 2004, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
Honours system set for shake-up
CBE, OBE and MBE medals
Sir Hayden feels the honours system should be independent
The honours system could be set for a major overhaul following a new report which recommends a number of changes.

Sir Hayden Phillips, who was asked by the Prime Minister to review the current procedure, believes greater independence is needed.

He says fewer civil servants should receive automatic awards and a small badge should be introduced to signify the award.

His report also found that public opinion was against scrapping honours.

He said: "My recommendations aim to ensure the honours system evolves in a fair and open way, reflecting diversity in society and ensuring diversity on honours committees.

"My report contains 31 recommendations, many of which are about the process of the system and making it more user-friendly.

"I think this is the key to a more open and trusted system."

Despite recent recommendations by the Commons Public Administration Committee to remove the 'Order of the British Empire' title, Sir Hayden believes it should remain.

He also feels that the names of awards such as OBE or CBE should not be amended.

But Sir Hayden argues that specialist committees which advise on honours should be fronted by independent people free from the government and the civil service.

His report comes after the Public Administration Committee said on Tuesday that the current system is outdated and secretive.

Cabinet Secretary to the committee Sir Andrew Turnbull said Sir Hayden's report will be considered alongside the committee's report and the government will make a statement about the matter later in the year.

The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"Members of the committee say it is time to be bold"

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