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Civil Service Reform: From Fulton to Cummings - 4 March 2021

Please note that this event has passed.

A former cabinet minister and a senior civil servant will join the panel for a debate on the history of civil service reform.

Since the 2019 general election delivered Boris Johnson’s Conservative government a strong majority, the question of civil service reform has received significant attention – with the prime minister’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings a keen proponent of overhauling Whitehall practices.

However, Mr Cummings is not the first figure to call for reform of Whitehall – and nor is he likely to be the last. From the Fulton Report of 1968, through the Next Steps Initiative introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s government to the growing role of special advisers in the New Labour and Cameron governments, the question of civil service reform has been one that has never gone away.

In this SPE Practitioner Series event – hosted with the Centre for British Politics and Government – four experts will discuss the evolution of debate around civil service reform; what various previous reform attempts have achieved; the contemporary state of relations between ministers and civil servants; and what the future of civil service reform entails.

*Please note, joining instructions will be issued closer to the advertised date*


• Jill Rutter (Senior Fellow at the Institute for Government and Visiting Professor, King’s College London Policy Institute)

• Philip Collins (Writer-in-chief, The Draft, contributing editor, The New Statesman, and former speech writer to Tony Blair)

• Sir David Lidington (former Minister for the Cabinet Office (2018-19), Secretary of State for Justice (2017-18) and Minister of State for Europe (2010-16) and Conservative MP)

• Jonathan Slater (former Permanent Secretary for the Department for Education)


Beckie Smith (Civil Service World, Acting Deputy Editor)

At this event

Jill Rutter

Jill Rutter

Senior Research Fellow at UKICE

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