The Civil Service in Britain and France

By William A. Robson | Go to book overview

Chapter 14
THE RECRUITMENT AND TRAINING OF HIGHER CIVIL SERVANTS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND FRANCE

By ANDRÉ BERTRAND ( Professor of Law; Director of Studies, École Nationale d'Administration, Paris)

IN his recent book, 'Constitutional Government and Demo- cracy', Professor Carl Friedrich called bureaucracy 'the core of modern government'. This statement is indisputably true as regards both Great Britain and France. Our two countries, today, are to a great extent--irrespective of the political party or parties in power--welfare states. In order to fulfill its ever growing tasks, many of them new and very technical, especially in the economic and social fields, the Executive must be able to rely on a body of permanent civil servants equipped with a broad and sound education, properly selected, well trained and adapted to their important and difficult jobs.

Great Britain and France have been well aware of this need for a long time. In the two countries, during the second half of the nineteenth century, the necessity was felt for a merit system based on open competitive examination, in order to supersede patronage or its French equivalent: le libre choix du Ministre. Parallel to the setting up of the Civil Service Commission in 1855 and the introduction in 1870 of organized competitive ex- aminations in Britain was the holding in France, as early as 1847 and 1849, of the first competitive examinations to recruit for the Inspection générale des finances, and the Conseil d'État. The same process became generally enforced in the various adminis- trations centrales between 1870 and 1890, from the beginning of the Third Republic.1

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1
One ought to recall also the short-lived experience of the École d'Administration set up in 1848 by the provisional government of the Second Republic. Admission to it was based on an open competitive exam-

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