Minister for the Civil Service

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United Kingdom
Minister for the Civil Service
Rishi Sunak
since 25 October 2022 (2022-10-25)
Government of the United Kingdom
StyleThe Right Honourable
Member ofCabinet
Residence10 Downing Street
AppointerThe King
Term lengthAt His Majesty's pleasure
Inaugural holderHarold Wilson
Formation1 November 1968
WebsiteOfficial website

In the Government of the United Kingdom, the Minister for the Civil Service is responsible for regulations regarding His Majesty's Civil Service,[1] the role of which is to assist the governments of the United Kingdom in formulating and implementing policies. The position is invariably held by the prime minister of the United Kingdom.[2]

The role[edit]

In recognition of the primary authority of the prime minister over the Civil Service, it is a constitutional convention that the ministry would always be held by the prime minister.[3] The list of ministers for the civil service is therefore identical to the list of prime ministers of the United Kingdom from 1968 onwards.

By the terms of the Civil Service (Management Functions) Act 1992, the minister may delegate his or her power to ministers and others such as the Scottish Government.[4] Prime Minister Gordon Brown appointed Tom Watson to be responsible for digital engagement and Civil Service issues,[5] while the Prime Minister has given the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and minister for the Cabinet Office (previously Michael Gove, currently Steve Barclay) responsibility for the Civil Service.[6][7]

The statutory instrument The Transfer of Functions (Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service) Order 1995, which transferred functions to the minister responsible for the Civil Service, came into force on 1 April 1995.[8]

The Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 codifies the power of the Minister for the Civil Service to manage the Civil Service, including the 'power to make appointments', the publication of the Civil Service code of conduct, and the right to be consulted before publication of recruitment principles by the Civil Service Commission.[9] The Act also requires the Minister for the Civil Service to publish a special adviser code of conduct, approve the terms and conditions of appointment of special advisers, and publish an annual report about special advisers serving the UK government.[10]

Civil Service Department[edit]

The ministership was created for Harold Wilson on 1 November 1968 when responsibilities for the pay and management of the Civil Service was transferred from HM Treasury to a new Civil Service Department.[11]

Margaret Thatcher announced the abolition of the Civil Service Department to the House of Commons on 12 November 1981.[12][13]

Junior ministers in the Civil Service Department[edit]

Portrait Name
Term of office Other ministerial portfolios held during tenure Party Ministry
The Right Honourable
Edward Shackleton
Baron Shackleton

1 December
19 June
Lord Privy Seal Labour Wilson
Parliamentary Secretary
David Howell
MP for Guildford
(b. 1936)
20 June
26 March
Lord Commissioner of the Treasury (until 5 January 1971)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of the Department of Employment (from 5 January 1971)
Conservative Heath
Parliamentary Secretary
Kenneth Baker
MP for St Marylebone
(b. 1934)
20 June
4 March
Parliamentary Secretary
Geoffrey Johnson-Smith
MP for East Grinstead
Minister of State
Robert Sheldon
MP for Ashton-under-Lyne
7 April
18 October
Labour Wilson
Parliamentary Secretary
John Grant
MP for Islington Central
Minister of State
Charles Morris
MP for Manchester Openshaw
18 October
4 May
Wilson & Callaghan


  1. ^ "Civil Service Order in Council 1995" (PDF). UK Civil Service Commissioners. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 July 2014.
  2. ^ "Her Majesty's Government". Government of the United Kingdom. 9 June 2009. Archived from the original on 16 February 2010.
  3. ^ David Wood (17 October 1968). "Ministers in merger dilemma". The Times. No. 57384. London. p. 1.
  4. ^ Pilkington 1999, p. 153.
  5. ^ Sparrow, Andrew (2 June 2009). "Profile: Tom Watson". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  6. ^ Gove, Michael (2 March 2020). "Ministerial Code". Hansard. Retrieved 3 March 2020. As the Minister responsible for the civil service, I am pleased to be here in order to be able to uphold the ministerial code
  7. ^ Yorke, Harry; Hymas, Charles (2 March 2020). "Priti Patel allegations will be investigated by Cabinet Office, Government says". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 March 2020. Michael Gove, the Cabinet minister responsible for the civil service
  8. ^ "The Transfer of Functions (Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service) Order 1995". Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  9. ^ "Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, sections 3(1), 3(3), 5(1), 11(2)". Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  10. ^ "Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, sections 8(1), 15(1), 16(1)". Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  11. ^ Daintith & Page 1999.
  12. ^ "HC Stmnt: [Civil Service Department (Transfer of Responsibilities)]". Margaret Thatcher Foundation. 12 November 1981. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  13. ^ "Part 3: Changes in the Public Service since 1967 (Continued)". Parliament of the United Kingdom. 1998. Retrieved 2 September 2017.