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The reform of public life in modern Britain, 1750–1950
Editors: Ian Cawood and Tom Crook

The many lives of corruption begins the task of piecing together the bigger picture of how corruption has undermined public life in modern Britain. It offers a uniquely expansive perspective, which stretches from the Old Corruption and ‘unreformed’ politics of the eighteenth century through to the mass democracy and welfare state of the twentieth.

Conceptually, as an object of thought, as much as practicably, and as an object of reform, corruption has proved tenaciously problematic and protean. This volume engages with both of these crucial aspects, arguing that it is only by grasping them together that we can fully understand how corruption has shaped the making of a democratic-capitalist state in Britain and given rise to new ideals of public service. It examines the factors that have facilitated and frustrated anticorruption reforms, as well as the various ways ‘corruption’ has been conceived by historical agents. It does so across a range of different sites – electoral, political and administrative, domestic and colonial – presenting new research on neglected areas of reform, while revisiting well-known scandals and corrupt practices. The many lives of corruption is essential reading for all scholars interested in understanding how the pursuit of purity in British public life has evolved over the past two and a half centuries – and why corruption remains such a pressing issue today.

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Ministers and the civil service
Bill Jones

the nineteenth century, the system was not ‘fit for purpose’ (to use the phrase used by John Reid in May 2006 to describe the Home Office when he was appointed to run it). However, in 1806 the East India Company, which had virtually colonised India for Britain, did something unorthodox for the age: it set up a training college for its employees. This was the result of a recommendation by someone who had worked in China and had observed the methods of training used there for public servants. This meritocratic model influenced the historic Northcote-Trevelyan report

in British politics today
Conservatives at the Foreign Office, 1858–9
Geoffrey Hicks

Corruption ends; there is no equivalent in this period to the work of Aaron Graham on the early eighteenth century or G. R. Searle on the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 2 This lacuna is, perhaps, understandable, given the changes inspired by the Northcote–Trevelyan Report of 1854, but the era occupies an intriguing and largely unexplored hinterland between Old Corruption and late Victorian standards of public probity

in The many lives of corruption
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Chris A. Williams

administration is in fact history of the administration, focusing on how policy is made in the first place, or the everyday functioning of the top levels of government.22 Given the vast amount of attention paid then and subsequently to nineteenth-century governance, the amount of analysis of the way it actually worked from day to day is minuscule.23 Nearly all this attention is focused on the way that policy was made, rather than how it was implemented. This bifurcation was present in the Northcote Trevelyan Report of 1854, which began by drawing a distinction between

in Police control systems in Britain, 1775–1975
Chris A. Williams

government largely followed the precedent of the Northcote Trevelyan Report, which divided the work of the civil service into mechanical and intellectual labour, and ignored the former.3 Much subsequent administrative history was not about the acts of administration carried out by the mechanical ‘executive’ class of civil servants, but about ‘the administration’: policy-making, carried out by the ‘administrative’ class. Some have moved beyond this preoccupation: Jill Pellew’s analysis of the Home Office consisted of a history of the personnel at its head who were concerned

in Police control systems in Britain, 1775–1975
Peter Triantafillou

, Britain has a longstanding tradition of common law with an inbuilt reluctance to legal codification of civil-service responsibilities and rights. While the Northcote–Trevelyan report of 1853 contributed to establishing a meritsbased and impartial British civil service, it was tellingly never put into law (Pilkington, 1999) . On the other hand, the increasingly unclear roles and responsibilities of civil servants resulting from the NPM reforms rolled out since the 1980s had resulted in a strong pressure on these Weberian-style bureaucratic norms (van der Meer et al

in Neoliberal power and public management reforms
James L. Newell

financial accounts liable to audit. In 1854, the Corrupt Definitions, and why study corruption 5 Practices Act began the process, later continued by the 1872 Ballot Act and the 1883 Corrupt and Illegal Practices Act, of stamping out bribery in elections by obliging candidates to publish their expenses and file them with an auditor. Also in 1854, the Northcote-Trevelyan Report recommended that recruitment to the civil service should be by open examination conducted by an independent ‘civil service’ board, with recruits segregated into a hierarchy of grades between which

in Corruption in contemporary politics
Alex Middleton

equilibrium emerged with remarkable rapidity, and by the time of the NorthcoteTrevelyan report in 1854, the Colonial Office was widely seen as a model of administrative probity. For much of the 1850s and 1860s, moreover, the apparatus of government it oversaw became a subject of cross-party patriotic celebration. The early nineteenth-century critique of the Colonial Office was a many-sided phenomenon. Among

in The many lives of corruption
Elaine A. Byrne

recommendations of the 1855 Northcote-Trevelyan report. This link between professionalism and honesty was a by-product of a moral code inherited from Victorian values. Gregg’s Memorandum to Government petitioned for a Civil Service Commission to ensure the continuation of established procedures introduced by the British Civil Service Commission before independence. The Blythe Committee, so called after Ernest Blythe, Minister for Local Government and chair of the committee, was subsequently appointed in January 1923 to present such proposals. Eamon Duggan, Gregg, Gordon

in Political corruption in Ireland, 1922–2010
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Protecting civil-service impartiality
David Hine and Gillian Peele

high-quality public auditing – but a civil service confident in its values and in its independence makes a very strong first line of defence. As a principle, civil service impartiality was laid down in the foundational document of the modern civil service, the 1854 Northcote-Trevelyan Report, and reaffirmed in successive reports and commentaries on the constitutional status of the service right down to the 1985 Armstrong Memorandum.7 The Armstrong Memorandum emphasises that the civil service has no constitutional personality or responsibility separate from the duly

in The regulation of standards in British public life