HL Deb 04 August 1942 vol 124 cc193-4WA

asked His Majesty's Government, when and by what instrument the title of "Head of the Civil Service" was first bestowed on the Permanent Secretary to His Majesty's Treasury; whether Parliamentary sanction was or has subsequently been obtained to the bestowal of the title and what are the powers conferred on and the functions performed by the holder of the title.


The supreme head of all the Services of the Crown is the Sovereign. The Ministerial head of His Majesty's Civil Service is the Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury. The principal officer of that Service is the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury; that title was introduced in 1867 and the post has since carried with it the official headship of the Service. No formal instrument recording the fact appears then to have been issued, but the position was explicitly reaffirmed in 1919 by the Government of the day in connexion with the reorganization of the Treasury after the last war. Appointment as "Permanent Secretary to the Treasury and official head of H.M. Civil Service" is made by the Prime Minister with the approval of His Majesty. The sanction of Parliament to appointments and titles in the Crown Services is not required. The function of the holder of this post is to direct, subject to Ministerial authority, the work of the Treasury, including that part of the Treasury's work which is concerned with the general supervision of the Civil Service and the central oversight of the official machinery of Government; his duties in this regard include that of advising the Prime Minister and First Lord, after consultation with any other Minister concerned, on appointments to certain senior posts in the Service which require the Prime Minister's approval, namely: Permanent Heads of Departments, their Deputies, Principal Finance Officers and Principal Establishment Officers. The holder of this post is, of course, in the exercise of his functions, subject to the authority of the Government of the day and he has no powers independent of the Minister to whom he tenders advice and to whom he is responsible.