Released papers

The Civil Service World website has posted a number of articles concerning newly released papers from the nation archive. They discovered from the papers:

  • That numerous 1984 reports noted a lack of diversity in civil service appointments, and suggested that applicants would be put off by stereotypical impression of civil servants. A proposal was made to put equal opportunity officers into all departments, but the prime minister, Mrs Thatcher, wrote on the submission: “I think this is nonsense”.
  • Also, the Thatcher government – like many current Tory ministers – was determined to shrink the size of the state. A note called Cabinet: Points to Make for Mrs Thatcher, produced in 1979 by her principal private secretary Kenneth Stowe, says that ‘the tone of this administration must be to reduce the area of government, not increase it. In every department there will be activities which can be cut and should be cut. The electorate expects nothing less of us. Everyone in your department must be clear that we are going to be rigorous in our examination of all government activities’.
  • Government was also deeply concerned about trade unionism within the civil service, and a candid memo from chancellor Nigel Lawson to the prime minister explained how involvement in the movement would affect civil servants’ promotion prospects. The memo examined whether civil servants’ records should be formally marked if they took part in industrial action, noting that “no issue of principle, no individual or union could properly sustain objections to an employer keeping records of the reliability of their staff during industrial disputes.

To read about all the above, please go to

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