The executive II
Ministers and the civil service
in British politics today
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While Cabinet members discuss matters of high policy, back in their departments they deal with more bread-and-butter matters. Cabinet ministers usually have a team of junior ministers to assist them and all ministers have usually one or two advisers plus armies of civil servants. Philip Norton has discerned five types of senior ministers, based on a 2000 study: team player, commander, ideologue, manager and agent. It is a fundamental of the British constitution that ministers are individually responsible to Parliament for the work of their department. This chapter discusses the Northcote-Trevelyan report of 1854 which advocated a politically neutral service, the Fulton Report of 1968, and the reforms undertaken during the Thatcher era. Advisers to premiers and ministers have always existed in one form or another, but began to be appointed more frequently during the 1970s. Many of them entered politics as researchers to politicians or were childhood friends.

British politics today

The essentials

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