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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 February, 2005, 15:15 GMT
Empire stays in honours shake-up
CBE, OBE and MBE medals
The government says the public support the honours system,
Knighthoods, damehoods and the Order of the British Empire are set to survive a shake-up of the honours system.

A Blue Peter-style badge is also being considered for those with honours, the government said in its response to two reports on modernising the system.

There had been calls for a change - to the Order of British Excellence - but those have been rejected, for now.

However, the government agreed the way honours are decided is to be made "more open, diverse and easier to understand.

The committees which decide who gets honours will be headed by people from outside the government, it added.

'Case not made'

New appointees would make up the majority of each committee and posts would be advertised in national, regional and ethnic minority media, it said.

The honours system already seems to have modernised itself
Peter, Notts

And more will be done to publicise the system and let people know they can nominate others for honours.

"The government does not believe that the case has been made for the change to the Order of the British Empire," it said in its response.

"It is regarded with affection and respect by very many people, not only in the UK.

"But the government is conscious that for some the title of the Order of the British Empire feels anachronistic in a different sense to other historic titles."

'White supremacy'

It added that it would consider further whether there ought to be a change. It follows last year's report by Sir Hayden Phillips who said greater independence was needed and fewer civil servants should receive automatic awards.

In a separate report, the Commons Public Administration Committee had said the honours system was outdated and secretive and suggested removing the "Order of the British Empire" title.

But the government has said it would consider further whether there should be any change.

Black poet Benjamin Zephaniah turned down his OBE in 2003, saying the title gave an impression of white supremacy

How the honours system may change

Honours system set for shake-up
16 Jul 04 |  Politics
Honours system outdated, say MPs
13 Jul 04 |  Politics
Guide to the Honours
12 Jun 04 |  UK
Should the honours system change?
13 Jul 04 |  Have Your Say
Going, Going, Gong!
01 Apr 04 |  Analysis
Black poet spurns OBE
27 Nov 03 |  UK
Honours 'elite' raises concerns
24 Nov 03 |  Politics

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