The Executive in the Constitution: Structure, Autonomy, and Internal Control

The Executive in the Constitution: Structure, Autonomy, and Internal Control

The Executive in the Constitution: Structure, Autonomy, and Internal Control

The Executive in the Constitution: Structure, Autonomy, and Internal Control


The Executive in the Constitution: Structure, Autonomy, and Internal Control is the first constitutional and legal analysis of the inner workings of the executive for many years. It aims to provoke a reappraisal, by constitutional lawyers, of the place of the executive within the constitution, by exploring an area hitherto largely neglected in constitutional law: the legal foundations of the powers and structure of the executive, and the mechanisms through which the centre of the executive seeks to control the actions of departments. The authors, both pre-eminent in the field off constitutional law, show that the machinery of executive co-ordination and control is no less crucial a dimension of the constitutional order than the external machinery of democratic and legal control. These external parliamentary and judicial controls depend for their effectiveness on the executive's ability to control itself. The plural structure of the executive, however, makes the co-ordination and control of its component parts a highly problematical pursuit. Against the background of an analysis of the executive's legal structure, the book examines in detail the controls governing departmental access to staffing, financial, and legal resources, analysing the relationship between these internal controls and the external machinery of democratic and legal control, and showing how the machinery of internal control has been shaped by the structure of the executive branch. The organization of the executive and the way it controls the actions of its departments has changed significantly in recent year. This book explores the impact of the machinery if executive co-ordination and control of the ambitious public service reform project which has been pursued by successive governments over the last twenty years, as well as of changes in the wider constitutional framework, including those stemming from the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union and the growth of judicial review. It shows how public service reforms, judicial review, and European law are changing not just the inner life of the executive government but its place in the constitution as well.


Most of the research for this book was carried out with the assistance of a grant (No. L 124251003) from the Economic and Social Research Council, within the framework of its 'Whitehall' programme. This support enabled one of us to get a year away from teaching (though alas not from all the other kinds of professional obligation which today form part of academic life), and secured invaluable research assistance for us both. We profited greatly from the cross-disciplinary contacts fostered by the programme, and owe particular thanks to its Director, Professor Rod Rhodes, for the energetic and responsive way in which he did his job and for the practical help he gave us.

The book is a mixture of joint and individual efforts. the structure embodies our common view--not easily arrived at--of how best to approach the organization and analysis of a mass of material whose constitutional and indeed legal reference points are often far from obvious. Within that structure we have divided responsibility for drafting chapters broadly according to subject-matter. Daintith is responsible for the introduction and the chapters on financial and legal resources, with the exception of the chapter on legislation, Page for the chapters on the executive, the civil service, legislation, the Citizen's Charter and open government, and the conclusion. All drafts, however, have been the subject of intensive discussion between us, and we each accept responsibility for the whole work, and for each other's mistakes as well as our own.

The 'Whitehall' programme has been both a reflection and an occasion of an increasing willingness in the United Kingdom executive to open its actions and thoughts to public scrutiny in a way we should have found hard to imagine even ten years ago. Occasional strictures about continuing areas of reticence should not be read as ingratitude for the extensive access and co-operation we have enjoyed within the executive. We have greatly appreciated the willingness of many senior civil servants and others in public service to devote considerable time, in interviews, in correspondence, and in seminars, to informing us and to discussing our ideas and questions. Following a convention which is not yet outmoded, we do not name them, but trust that they will recognize in the pages that follow both the essential character of their contribution and our gratitude to them for providing it.

Two people we can name, whose contribution has likewise been indispensable, are Cecilia O'Leary and Chris Willis, our research assistants on . . .

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