More than a century and a half after the Northcote-Trevelyan report first recommended it, the Civil Service values of integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality have been enshrined in law.
The Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill received Royal Assent on Thursday 8 April during wash-up, the period between the General Election being called and the dissolution of Parliament.
This puts the Civil Service and its core values of integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality on a statutory footing. It means that there can be no changes to core Civil Service values and principles without Parliamentary scrutiny and approval. With few exceptions, appointments to the Civil Service must be made on merit and on the basis of fair and open competition.
These changes were first made in the Northcote-Trevelyan report of 1853.
Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell said:
“It has been a long wait. But finally, 157 years after the Northcote-Trevelyan report first recommended it, our core Civil Service values of honesty, objectivity, integrity and impartiality, which are at the heart of everything we do, are now enshrined in law.
“These values represent what is best about the Civil Service and that is why this element of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act is so important.”
First Civil Service Commissioner Janet Paraskeva said:
“The Civil Service Commissioner warmly welcomes the passage of Civil Service legislation which puts the principles of the Civil Service on a statutory basis as part of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act. It is a truly historic moment and one which secures the impartiality of the Civil Service and the independence of our role.”