Core Principles of the Civil Service

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  • Core Principles of the Civil Servants
    • Permanence
      • Matthew Hancock (Minister of the Cabinet) said that you must "recruit and retain the best"
      • The Civil Servants provide valuable continuity to the nation, esp. in big time of change for Parliament (e.g. Election or reshuffle)
      • It allows them to offer the most honest advice without fear of dismissal
        • Subsequently, it was regarded as a "job for life", this resulted in flatness, a lack of ambition and drive. Thus a "Fix term" contract has been introduced, threatening this principle.
    • Neutrality/Impartiality
      • Civil Servants must not let their own political opinions shape their decisions.
        • If they were to become noticeably partisan, it may damage the process.
      • They are occasionaly moved to different departments to ensure that they don't become too loyal to their Minister
      • This principle is criticised in 2 different ways:
        • 1- It is hard to be 100% neutral because they all come from the same social and economic backgrounds
        • 2. Civil Servants tend to be "Neutral on the side of government", the ideology that because they are involved in the decision making, the are favourable towards it.
    • Anonymity
      • The public or media should not be able to identify and thus blame an individual Civil Servant for any governmental decisions they have been involved in
      • Individual Ministerial Responsibility means that Cabinet Ministers are accountable for their Ministries.
      • There are 2 types of critic evaluation on this principle:
        • 1. That the principle provides a shield for Civil Servants to hide behind
        • 2. Others recognise that they are being increasingly identified, by being asked to appear before parliamentary committees and having their names reported by media.
    • Confidentiality
      • Every Civil Servant signs the Official Secrets Act (introduced in 1923 and altered in 1989), with the intent of securing information that could be a threat to the nation.
      • They are restricted from giving information to friends, family, media, foreign powers and even Parliament.
      • Sarah Tisdall (working for the MOD) announced the arrival of US missiles in Greenham Common in 1983, resulting in years of protests.
      • David Shayler was found guilty and sentenced to 6 months in prison in 2002 for revealing information to the media about the activities of our intelligence agencies, especially MI5


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