Waldegrave warned on 'political' civil service

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WILLIAM WALDEGRAVE, the minister responsible for the Civil Service, was warned yesterday not to throw away centuries of tradition and politicise the organisation, writes Chris Blackhurst.

The stark advice came in the wake of an Independent report that a forthcoming government White Paper will call for a wholescale transformation of Whitehall. Among the proposals being discussed are cutting up to a fifth of the top three grades and introducing individual fixed-term contracts. Elizabeth Symons, general secretary of the First Division Association, the senior civil servants' trade union, predicted that if contracts are short term, covering the life of a government, they will lead to 'full-scale politicisation of the Civil Service'.

As in the US, a new government would come in and be able to sweep away the previous regime's servants. Ms Symons accused ministers of 'messing around with the machinery of government which no elected government has the right to do'.

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