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Monday, 20 December, 1999, 12:46 GMT
McConnell's swipe at civil service

Briefcase, umbrella and bowler hat The traditional, staid image of the civil service


Scotland's Finance Minister Jack McConnell has taken a swipe at the civil service with a demand for it to adapt to the needs of the new millennium.

In a speech to an audience of leading public and private sector figures in Edinburgh, he declared: "I want to see a civil service in Scotland fit for the 21st century.

"A diverse and professional service, open not defensive, strategic not reactive, reflecting all of Scotland not just its traditional roots."

Rafferty sacking

Mr McConnell is regarded as a moderniser within the Scottish Executive, similar to John Rafferty, chief of staff to First Minister Donald Dewar until he was controversially sacked earlier this month.


Jack McConnell Jack McConnell: Seen as a moderniser
Mr Dewar's decision to fire Mr Rafferty was said by some to have been influenced by senior civil servants opposed to plans for the reform of the inner workings of the political machine.

Mr McConnell said the civil service must become a service which helped devolution to succeed and was "no longer just a Whitehall department".

"Citizens now expect more from us as politicians - they quite rightly want us to make a difference," he said.

"They want us to make realistic promises and keep them. They want us to deliver on their terms.

'Embrace' new technology

"This applies to the public sector in general and I want us to develop a public sector that embraces change. But I want it to lead change not move at the pace of the slowest."

The Scottish Executive needed to "embrace" new technology, he stressed.

"It is vital that the public sector changes but we need a system that is living, dynamic and flexible enough to absorb further change as it happens."

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See also:
13 Dec 99 |  Scotland
'No debate' on Rafferty sacking
15 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Yeah, minister: Civil service modernises

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