The Civil Service in Britain and France

By William A. Robson | Go to book overview

Chapter 10
CIVIL SERVICE ESTABLISHMENTS AND THE TREASURY

By SIR THOMAS PADMORE ( Joint Second Secretary to the Treasury)

THE word 'establishments' is used in this title in the loose but comprehensive sense which it has come to bear in the daily jargon of Whitehall. In origin no doubt the establishment of a department was its authorized complement of staff. But we talk nowadays of 'establishments' as meaning the whole complex of official activity which arises out of the employment of civil servants by the Crown. We use the word to mean 'staff management' in its widest sense.

Except so far as it is necessary to an understanding of the present system and methods of Civil Service establishment work, I shall not concern myself with the historical development of that system. Nor shall I refer much to the formal machinery of law, of precept, and of powers (whether vested in the employing departments or in the Treasury) which lie behind the system. Rather am I concerned to give some general description of the state's present activity as the employer of over 600,000 non- industrial civil servants and of the relationships between the different authorities concerned; as well as to consider the interplay of forces that has given rise to the present system and some of its defects as well as its virtues. In short, what happens? Why? And what is right or wrong about it?

But first one may well ask why there should be anything special, or specially worth writing about, in Civil Service establishment affairs. What features distinguish its staff management problems from those of any other large employer?

A few other employers have staffs as large, or larger, and the problems caused by mere size are not peculiar to the Civil Service. Broadly, there are two things which distinguish the Service from other employments. First, there is the mere fact

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