Magazine article Public Finance

Turnbull Bows out with Defiance

Magazine article Public Finance

Turnbull Bows out with Defiance

Article excerpt

Sir Andrew Turnbull this week delivered his final speech as Cabinet secretary, calling for further Whitehall reforms and attacking critics who questioned civil service values under his stewardship.

In his valedictory lecture on July 26, Turnbull, who retires from office at the end of July, also defended the growing influence of ministerial special advisers and his decision not to back a Civil Service Act during his tenure.

Many Whitehall bodies, including the Commons' public administration select committee and the FDA mandarins' union, want a Bill to enshrine civil service values, such as impartiality, in law. This is to counter perceived threats such as the growing use of politicised policy advisers. The PASC and the government have both published draft Acts.

Turnbull, who took over as head of the civil service in 2002, said: 'I have been accused by some of not taking values seriously enough, as evidenced by the fact that I have not seen a Civil Service Act as a priority.

'I have always thought that the proponents of an Act had completely unrealistic expectations of what it would achieve. For example, I do not see how what the PASC called "these unfortunate events" at the former Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions [the infamous Jo Moore September 11 e-mail to "bury bad news"] would have been influenced by the existence of a Civil Service Act. …

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