Letter: Crisis and chaos in the civil service

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The Independent Online
Sir: Many readers of the Independent and many more people throughout the country must surely applaud the courage of Sir Peter Kemp (15 November) for his rational and explicit criticism of the upper echelons of the Civil Service, its established policies and attitudes. Not only in your published interview, but also on radio and television, that someone of his stature has chosen to speak is not too soon and, let us hope, is not too late.

Vernon Bogdanor suggests that there is a strong case for a Royal Commission on the Civil Service. The situation must be too critical to be subject to such an approach, which would inevitably be prolonged and result in a whitewash. Sir Peter's own suggestion for the appointment of a non-political supremo would certainly have the strongest appeal. Such an appointment must be made from outside and not subject to the approval of the appointed civil service barons.

If, as Sir Peter points out, such crisis and chaos exists at the top, it is no wonder that those of us who have to deal with the middle and lower echelons of those employed in many departments of public service are constantly frustrated and exasperated. It would appear that lack of accountability characterises the Civil Service from top to bottom. How many times in dealing with problems or seeking answers to questions is one told: I am only doing my job; I don't make the rules; write to the Department - and then wait for months or even years for an incorrect answer, often resulting in considerable costs and certainly inconvenience.

Yours sincerely,


Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire