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Is the British Civil Service an endangered species?

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The Bennett CSaP Distinguished Lecture will be delivered by Lord Wilson of Dinton Thursday 23 May 2019 (17:30 – 18:45 followed by drinks reception)

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Queen’s Lecture Theatre, Emmanuel College, Cambridge

In 2002, just before he retired as Cabinet Secretary, Lord Wilson delivered a reflective talk about the state of his profession. In the much-changed world of 2019 he will revisit this subject from the point of view of an outsider, based in the House of Lords, as he is now. How well have the traditional values of the Civil Service fared in these turbulent times, not least of Brexit and constitutional tension? How much continuity has there been, and what has changed? What difference does the digital revolution make to the world in which civil servants work? Lord Wilson will offer a personal perspective on these and other questions, placing the evolution of the Civil Service in the context of recent political history and the challenges which it may face in the decades ahead.

Lord Wilson is a former Cabinet Secretary and former Master, Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge. He is currently Chair of the CSaP Policy Leaders Fellowship.

Richard Wilson read law at Clare College Cambridge (1961-65), but rather than practice, entered the Civil Service as an assistant principal in the Board of Trade in 1966. He subsequently served in a number of departments including 12 years in the Department of Energy where his responsibilities included nuclear power policy, the privatisation of Britoil, personnel and finance. He headed the Economic Secretariat in the Cabinet Office under Mrs Thatcher from 1987-90 and after two years in the Treasury was appointed Permanent Secretary of the Department of the Environment in 1992. He became Permanent Under Secretary of the Home Office in 1994 and Secretary of the Cabinet and Head of the Home Civil Service in January 1998.

On his retirement in September 2002 he became Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, stepping down in 2012. He remains actively interested in the contribution of academic research to policy making, an interest which led him to take a leading role in the Cambridge University Government Policy Programme which preceded the foundation of CSaP.

This talk is part of the Centre for Science and Policy Lectures & Seminars series.

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