MPs on the Public Administration Committee took evidence on 3 March 2011 on good governance and reform of the civil service from Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude and Cabinet Secretary Gus O'Donnell.
In December 2010 the coalition published a draft "Cabinet Manual" setting out the role of the monarch, government and Parliament.
Unlike some countries, such as the United States, the UK has no written constitution, instead relying on accumulated statutes, conventions and rulings.
The manual was commissioned by former prime minister Gordon Brown, and has been strongly supported by the Liberal Democrats, although the coalition agreement does not commit the government to setting down the constitution on paper.
Mr Maude told the committee that governments were not afraid to take "huge macro risks" but that at working level the civil service was very "risk averse".