UK Home Civil Service
Her Majesty's Home Civil Service, also known as just the Home Civil Service, is the permanent bureaucracy of Crown employees that supports the government of the United Kingdom, composed of a Cabinet of ministers chosen by the prime minister, as well as the devolved administrations in Wales (the Welsh Assembly Government) and Scotland (the Scottish Government).
Under the principle of responsible government, ministers are accountable to the Crown and the in administering the United Kingdom. However, their executive decisions are implemented by Her Majesty's Civil Service, the British civil service. Civil servants are employees of the Crown and not Parliament. Civil servants also have some traditional and statutory responsibilities which to some extent protect them from being used for the political advantage of the party in power. Senior civil servants may be called to account to Parliament.
In general use, the term civil servant in the United Kingdom does not include all public sector employees; although there is no fixed legal definition, the term is usually defined as "a servant of the Crown working in a civil capacity who is not the holder of a political (or judicial) office; the holder of certain other offices in respect of whose tenure of office special provision has been made. As such, the Civil Service does not include government ministers (who are politically appointed), members of the British Armed Forces, police officers, local government officials, members of the National Health Service, or staff of the Royal Household. As of 2007, there are approximately 532,000 (499,000 full-time equivalent) civil servants in the Home Civil Service.
A permanent, unified and politically neutral civil service, in which appointments were made on merit, was introduced on the recommendations of the Northcote-Trevelyan report of 1854, which also recommended a clear division between staff responsible for routine ("mechanical") work, and those engaged in policy formulation and implementation in an "administrative" class. This latter class was a legacy of the British rule in its colonies as well, such as the Pakistan’s DMG or India’s IAS. The report was well-timed, because bureaucratic chaos in the Crimean War promptly caused a clamour for the change. A Civil Service Commission was accordingly set up in 1855 to oversee open recruitment and end patronage, and most of the other Northcote-Trevelyan recommendations were implemented over some years. The Northcote-Trevelyan model remained essentially stable for a hundred years. This was a tribute to its success in removing corruption, delivering public services (even under the stress of two world wars), and responding effectively to political change.
At the height of the British Empire, when Britain was responsible for a quarter of the global land-mass, the Colonial Office in Whitehall administered the entire empire except for India. It employed a total of 99 people, including the messenger boys. Today, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs employs 92,000 staff. Obviously, in an age before the telephone, let alone the internet, the 99 people in Whitehall could not run the Empire in any detail. The people doing that were deputy commissioners of the ICS [now DMG in Pakistan] thousands of miles away. All the 99 could do was to co-ordinate some general policies and keep an eye on things.
The long-standing doctrine of British administration, expressed in the Haldane report produced during the First World War, is that there must be a "partnership" between ministers and civil servants. If you talk to civil servants who have held top positions over the years, it appears that the "us and them" feeling has never gone away. At the top, civil servants have found themselves being told to operate policies of which they know nothing until they read about them in a newspaper.As one of the most senior former mandarins puts it: "The Government's way of making policy is like building a wall from the top layer of bricks downwards." One of the jokes in the Yes, Minister television comedy was that the civil servants always got what they wanted. But part of the joke was that, in doing so, they also saved their ministers' skins. (Charles Moore 24/11/2007)
There is a feeling even in post world war era that the so-called "mandarins" of the higher civil service were too remote from the people. Indeed, between 1948 and 1963 only 3% of the recruits to the administrative class came from the working classes, and in 1966 more than half of the administrators at under-secretary level and above had been privately educated.
The position of 'Minister for the Civil Service' is not part of the Civil Service as it is a political position which has always been held by the UK Prime Minister .The highest ranking civil servant is the Head of the Home Civil Service who is also the Cabinet Secretary and Permanent Secretary of the Cabinet Office. The position holder is accountable for ensuring that the Civil Service civil servants work in a fair and decent environment. He also chairs the Permanent Secretary Management Group and the Civil Service Steering Board which are the main governing bodies of the Civil Service.
The Civil Service Commissioners are not civil servants and are independent of Ministers, they are appointed directly by the Crown under Royal Prerogative and they report annually to The Queen. Their main role is regarding the recruitment of civil servants. They have the responsibility to ensure that all civil servants are recruited on the “principle of selection on merit on the basis of fair and open competition.” The Home Civil Service is a politically neutral body, with the function of impartially implementing the policy programme of the elected government.