t/html; charset=windows-1252″> The Civil Service
The Civil Service executes government decisions and therefore plays a vital part in British Politics. The Civil Service currently employs at about 500,000. It is split into a number of departments attached to a government department. A Cabinet minister heads one of these departments and those civil servants within that department are meant to work for that minister in carrying out government policy. This specific to roles is very important as a government minister is a working MP and has been elected by the voters in his/her constituency. Civil servants are not elected; they apply for a post in the Civil Service and any promotion within the Civil Service is dependent on decisions made within the Civil Service itself – not by the electorate.
Their tasks are many and varied. The
In the past, claims have been made that these posts have only been open to privately educated, Oxbridge males. There have been attempts in recent years to correct what was seen as something from a bygone age. Appointments to these posts is now very specific to ability as opposed to background and gender. However, there are those critics who feel that not enough has been done to bring a gender balance – let alone an ethnic minority balance – to the senior positions within the Civil Service.
The next layer down is the permanent career official who works within a government department and carry out government policies. As with all civil servants, these people are meant to be neutral in a professional sense. They might have their own political views, but these must not be allowed to interfere or jeopardise their work. In theory, this level should not have policy making powers, but they might be called upon to give advice if it is thought that their knowledge on a topic is sufficiently expert. This layer of civil servant will be very knowledgeable about issues such as costs, technical problems involved in some aspects of proposed government policy etc. Such expertise is called upon and ministers might legitimately ask such people to make an input even if they are non-elected persons. If a civil servant does give an input to a government decision regarding policy, he/she remains anonymous. If the policy is a success, the minister takes the credit, if it is a failure, the minister involved takes the blame.
While the civil servant works for the department (and therefore the government) he/she is in, there are a number of legally enforceable restrictions placed on all civil servants.