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Friday, 19 April, 2002, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
Treasury man to head civil service
The cabinet
Post is key link between ministers and the civil service
The Treasury's top civil servant is moving to Tony Blair's right hand as the new cabinet secretary, Downing Street has announced.

Sir Andrew Turnbull is expected to play a lead role in making sure public services improve when the job is reshaped after current cabinet secretary Sir Richard Wilson retires.

He becomes head of the home civil service amid concern that the independence of civil servants is being undermined by political special advisers.

The appointment will be seen as evidence that his current boss, Chancellor Gordon Brown, is again increasing his power at the heart of government.

Blair's choice

Sir Andrew has fought off competition from frontrunners including former Home Office permanent secretary Sir David Omand and Rachel Lomax at the Work and Pensions Department.

The 57-year-old top mandarin will earn up to 245,000 in the post, which is appointed by Mr Blair from a shortlist of four.

Downing Street says he will serve a three-year term, although that will take him past the normal retirement age of 60.


These are demanding times for civil servants with an ever-increasing focus on public service delivery

Tony Blair

Sir Andrew will shadow Sir Richard Wilson in the job from June and start the job proper this autumn.

Mr Blair saluted Sir Andrew as a man of great ability who had a "track record of delivery".

"These are demanding times for civil servants with an ever-increasing focus on public service delivery," said Mr Blair.

"I am confident they will meet the challenges ahead and that Sir Andrew will lead the service successfully through this period of change."

Rising expectations

Sir Andrew is viewed as a civil service modernise and the prime minister made clear that would be one of his principal tasks.

The civil servant himself praised the way the civil service had been strengthened under Sir Richard Wilson's leadership.

Sir Richard Wilson
Sir Richard Wilson dubbed his successor an "outstanding civil servant"
"But at the same time, the expectations of ministers and the public have been growing even more rapidly," said Sir Andrew.

"This means that still more needs to be done to improve our skills, our use of technology and our ability to deliver."

Economics background

Those tasks had to be done while increasing the civil service's "enviable reputation for integrity".

Fears for the independence of the civil service followed the controversy over Jo Moore, the transport special adviser who suggested 11 September was a good day to bury bad news.

Ms Moore's resignation amid reports of rows with civil servants inside the Transport Department fuelled calls for civil service impartiality to be enshrined in law.

The government is committed to introducing a civil service act and Sir Richard Wilson gave a speech making the case for that change last month.

His successor, Sir Andrew, was born in north London and educated at Enfield Grammar School before reading economics at Cambridge University.

Advising Thatcher

After two years working as an economist for the Zambian government, he joined the Treasury in 1970 and gained quick promotion.

Sir Andrew was seconded to the International Monetary Fund in the mid-1970s, the time when the UK asked the fund for a controversial loan.

More jobs in both the Treasury and as an economics adviser to Margaret Thatcher followed for the Tottenham Hotspur fan.

Sir Andrew saw through Lady Thatcher's last days in Downing Street, and the beginning of John Major's tenure, as the prime minister's principal private secretary.

The last decade has seen him add the top jobs at both the Environment Department and the Treasury to his impressive curriculum vitae.

See also:

26 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Top civil servant urges spin curbs
14 Mar 02 | UK Politics
New laws to follow spin row
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