LETTER: FLEXIBLE GUIDELINES AND SECRETIVE DECISIONS

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The Independent Online
From Mrs S M Evershed

Sir: Commenting on the need for constitutional reform, and on the fact that ministers are "the creatures of their departments" on page 74 in his book The Binding of Leviathan (1970), William Waldegrave writes as follows:

All this has pushed power into the Whitehall village - a closed quiet community with its own values and its own objectives. Thus our system is one where the direct exercise of power is very secret and very little accountable, and is likely to remain so, unless there should come to power a party so confident and so arrogant that it would smash the Civil Service and break wholly free; and then the danger would be a worse one, of the use by an arrogant majority of its full, constitutional tyrannical power.

Since Mr Waldegrave initiated the changes to the guidelines governing policy on the export of arms to Iraq and since he, albeit without duplicitous intent, failed to inform Parliament of these changes, should we therefore conclude, in his own words, that we are being governed by a "tyrannical power"?

Yours faithfully,

S M Evershed

Winchester

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