But the most thought-provoking comments concern the relationship between politicians and the civil service. Sainsbury is scathing about the "out of date" civil service, which he feels could learn from private sector practices. Here are some of his key points:
"Ministers and civil servants are, he believes, too locked into their departments. 'Government isn’t joined up because it’s no one’s job to join it up,' he says. 'If you want to have a policy on low-carbon cars, that involves four departments and you end up with 100 people in a room. In business you would appoint a production director to run a project.'
In his view senior civil servants should be blamed for departmental failures. 'It’s an absurdity that a minister who’s been in the department for three months is held responsible if the department loses all the high-security files. He’s probably never run any big organisation,' he says. 'I would give more power to the head of the Civil Service he then becomes accountable in a much clearer way to Parliament for running things properly.'
There are, he adds, 'far too many reshuffles. The average length of time ministers stay in post is about 18 months. In my experience it takes about a year before you really understand all the issues, whose advice to listen to. One of the real bonuses for me was that I did my job for eight years. But I went through five secretaries of state'."
Given how the Tories are working closely with Sainsbury's Institute for Government, you wonder whether they're thinking along similar lines. You'd certainly imagine so, as many of the Lord's suggestions are sensible and intuitive. But, either way, one thing's clear: if the next administration hopes to properly implement the transformative policy agenda which will be necessary to deal with Brown's debt crisis, then it will need to reform the very processes and culture of government.