Whitehall

Peter Hennessy, Author Free Press $35 (851p) ISBN 978-0-02-914441-1
A mix of history, guidebook and portrait gallery, Hennessy's chatty survey of the British civil service is recommended for those who want to understand that country's ``permanent government.'' This Cook's tour of Whitehall begins with the departments (foreign office, defence, trade, energy, agriculture et al.), then introduces representatives of the three major categories of players: ministers, career officials and the distinguished auxiliaries known as ``the good and the great,'' who undertake periodic service on royal commissions and committees of inquiry. Describing reform under Margaret Thatcher as ``de-privileging the profession and re-skilling its professionals in a firmly managerial direction,'' the author, a British journalist, believes that no prime minister since Lloyd George has had a more profound effect on civil service management, but also argues that reform hasn't gone far enough. He advocates a broadened recruitment policy and a redesigned Civil Service Commission to combine policy-making and managerial aspects of Whitehall's mandate. Photos. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
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