I realise that Reform are on the side of the angels, just as we here are. However, I feel I must point out that I consider this to be a very bad idea indeed.
Democratic accountability provides the best means to hold senior civil servants to account. Democratically elected politicians should have the power to appoint senior civil servants.
Yes, I do understand the problem they’re trying to solve, that the civil service is both self-selecting and has its own internal culture, one that is highly resitant to change. Any sort of change but most especially the sort of change that a newly elected government might like to bring into effect.
However, we have a real live system which works in the way Refom thinks we should move. The American one. Every new administration brings in three to four thousand of their own to staff the upper reaches of the Federal bureaucracy. Leading to things like this:
Alarm is growing that the Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is being forced to operate virtually on his own without any of the 17 deputies his department is supposed to have representing him in important negotiations or helping to make crucial decisions.
The revolving door that shuffles people from law firms and think tanks, through a few years in the bureaucracy and back again is also the driver of the vast lobbying industry….or at least the recruiting ground for much of it.
Might I suggest that if Ministers are indeed incompetent at handling the civil service unaided then we either start to choose different ministers….or perhaps better, start to have less civil service which needs to be handled?