A once a fine institution that ensured the nation ran on time regardless of who was in office, the Civil Service is now an out-of-control bureaucratic monster. The service's raison d'etre is to support HM Government's ministers, who are responsible to the Auntie Betty and Parliament in administering the UK. However, executive decisions are implemented not by politicians but by civil servants, who are employees of the Crown and not the government and are thus impartial. Civil servants also have some traditional and statutory responsibilities which to should protect them from being used for the political advantage of the party in power.
Unfortunately the Civil Service has gradually become more politicised by recent governments - one in particular. Though non-governmental employees, senior civil servants may be called to account to Parliament - which is something that seems not to apply to MPs.
The the term 'civil servant' does not include all public sector employees. A servant is that of the Crown who works in a civil capacity and who is not the holder of a political (or judicial) office, or certain other offices in respect of whose tenure of office special provision has been made. Neither is he/she/it a servant of the Crown in a personal capacity paid from the Civil List.
The Civil Service does not include:
- Government ministers
- The Armed Forces
- The police
- Local government officials
- The National Health Service
- Royal Household
There are nearly half a million civil servants in the Civil Service, which goes some considerable way to explain the endemic bureaucratic chaos - especially when one considers that we ran India for nearly two centuries with just twelve blokes from Oxbridge.