LETTER: Buck stops here - or does it?

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I WAS surprised that Peter Hennessy in his article about how hard ministers work, made no mention of executive agencies ("Are they still fit to govern", 15 October). Since he was such an enthusiastic supporter of the Next Steps agency game in the past, it seems odd that he failed to mention agencies having any beneficial effect on the burden of ministers' work.

Or is it? Does his general finding that, despite occasional Whitehall tinkering, ministers continue to involve themselves in an inordinate amount of detail, not simply confirm the view held by most civil servants from the outset, that the division between "policy" and "operations" was always a silly one? A view which, by coincidence, was startlingly exemplified by the Home Office's Prison Service cavortings.

Chris Sladen

London W5