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Experts to give evidence on the appointment and dismissal of permanent secretaries and other senior civil servants

Tuesday 21 March 2023

Tomorrow the House of Lords Constitution Committee will be holding its first evidence session for its inquiry into the appointment and dismissal of permanent secretaries and other senior civil servants.

The committee will question experts, focusing on how the Civil Service Commission Recruitment Principles are applied and the involvement of ministers, Prime Ministers and other actors in appointment and dismissal.  

The session will take place on Wednesday 22 March at 10:15am and can be followed live on Parliament TV.   

Giving evidence will be:  

  • Alex Thomas, Programme Director, Institute for Government,  
  • Jill Rutter, Senior Fellow, Institute for Government; Senior Research Fellow, UK in a Changing Europe 

Possible areas of questioning in this session include:  

  • Whether there is a trend for permanent secretaries and other senior civil servants to leave their posts when a change of Prime Minister or cabinet reshuffle takes place and if this has changed over time 
  • The involvement of ministers and/or Prime Ministers, as well as other actors in dismissing and recruiting permanent secretaries and other senior civil servants 
  • The standard process for the dismissal or redeployment of very senior civil servants and how it works in practice 
  • The application of Civil Service Recruitment Principles in appointments to very senior posts 
  • The extent to which recent appointments have departed from the standard process outlined in the Civil Service Commission Recruitment Principles 
  • Whether the civil service’s impartiality and appointment on merit is undermined when departing from the standard process for recruitment 
  • The content of the Civil Service Recruitment Principles and the case for amending them 

The implications of the reported recruitment of Sue Gray as Chief of Staff for the Leader of the Opposition.

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