The Profession of Government: The Public Service in Europe

By Brian Chapman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
The Powers of Administrative Courts

There are four major aspects of controlling public administration. First, to ensure that public administration always operates within the letter of the law. This is by no means as easy as it once was. There has been a growing tendency for parliaments to entrust the administration with powers to make regulations having the force of law. Control of legality, therefore, involves both ensuring that the administration acted within the terms of a law or regulation, and, in the case of a regulation, that it was originally empowered to make such a regulation.

Second, there is the question of discretion. The administration has to decide whether X is entitled to a pension, to a road licence; whether a public works' contract should go to A or B; whether C's land should be compulsorily purchased for building a road, and whether with limited funds it is better to build a bridge in this province rather than that province. In the course of time a body of precedents grows up which can be applied by rule of thumb methods. This applies to a great deal of administrative work in, for example, post offices, labour exchanges, pension administrations, health services, educational administration.

But even with the most generous allowance for mechanical administration of this kind, a small but politically vital group of decisions stands outside any category. While there were very few of these key decisions it did not seem unreasonable to suppose that parliament could exercise effective control through pressure on the minister concerned. But it is no longer realistic to suppose that any minister can know a tithe of what goes on under his ministry's roof, or that parliamentary procedure leaves much room for control by parliamentary questions.

-206-

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The Profession of Government: The Public Service in Europe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 5
  • Contents 7
  • PART ONE - COMPOSITION 45
  • Chapter 2 - Recruitment 74
  • Chapter 3 - Training 99
  • PART TWO - CONDITIONS OF SERVICE 131
  • Chapter 5 - Security of Tenure 145
  • Chapter 6 - Pensions 153
  • Chapter 7 - Discipline 158
  • Chapter 8 - Promotion 164
  • PART THREE - CONTROL 179
  • Chapter 10 - The Structure and Personnel of Administrative Courts 199
  • Chapter II - The Powers of Administrative Courts 206
  • Chapter 12 - The Ombudsman 245
  • Chapter 13 - Financial Control 260
  • PART FOUR - POLITICS AND PUBLIC 271
  • Chapter 15 - Public Service Trade Unions 296
  • Chapter 16 - Public Officials and the Public 308
  • Bibliography 323
  • Index 345
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