University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Core Seminar in Economic and Social History > Whitehall and the problem of public service in nineteenth-century institutional reform

Whitehall and the problem of public service in nineteenth-century institutional reform

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The historiography of nineteenth public service reform has been, and still is, dominated by scholarly and professional focus on the battles within Whitehall to reform the behaviour of senior officials. This has led to an over-concentration on the 1854 Treasury Report on the Organisation of the Permanent Civil Service, usually referred to as the “Northcote-Trevelyan Report”, and much over-exaggeration as to its immediate effects and cultural significance. This paper will attempt to place the 1854 Report within its social and cultural context and to contend that a genuine public service ethos emerged endogenously from within the branches of provincial administration in the years after 1832 and that the 1854 Report was an attempt to restrain and reformulate this ethos to suit the needs of the elite classes of Britain rather than the common needs of the British public.

This talk is part of the Core Seminar in Economic and Social History series.

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