The Civil Service is one of the great institutions of state. Under our constitution, the executive exercises the Royal Prerogative and enjoys substantial de facto control over the legislature and appointments to the judiciary. Governments come and go, and having no codified constitution, or formal separation of powers, Parliament depends upon this body of permanent officials underpin the constitutional stability of our country. That is why a permanent and impartial Civil Service was established. The Civil Service has no separate legal personality: the Crown, ministers and the Civil Service are in law indivisible. Any move away from the Northcote-Trevelyan settlement would be a major constitutional change. But for our system to work, a high level of trust between ministers and officials is required. This trust, and with it the relationship between ministers and civil servants, seems to be breaking down (watch this space – PASC will be looking at this question in the autumn). Now that Sir Bob Kerslake will step down as Head of the Civil Service (HCS), the old order is being restored, by Cabinet Secretary (CabSec) Sir Jeremy Heywood taking back that role (sigh of relief across Whitehall!). However, the appointment of a Civil Service chief executive, […]

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