- Permanent Secretary
The Permanent Secretary, in most departments officially titled the Permanent Under-Secretary of State (although the full title is rarely used), is the most senior civil servant of a British Government ministry, charged with running the department on a day-to-day basis. The permanent secretary (known by other names in some departments; see below) is the non-political civil service head (and "accounting officer") or chief executive of a government department, as distinct from the political
Secretary of State, to whom they report and whom they advise.
Permanent Secretaries are the Accounting Officers for Departments, meaning that they are answerable to Parliament for ensuring that the Department spends money granted by Parliament appropriately. Permanent Secretaries are thus frequently called for questioning by the
Public Accounts Committeeand Select Committees of the House of Commons. The permanent secretary usually chairs a department's management board which consists of executive members (other civil servants in the department) and non-executive directors.
Some larger departments also have a Second Permanent Secretary who acts as deputy. In the early 1970s, there was a major reorganisation of
Whitehalland many smaller Ministries were amalgamated into larger Departments. Following this reorganisation, virtually all Departments had Second Permanent Secretaries. However, this is no longer the case.
The overall head of the civil service is the
Cabinet Secretary, currently Sir Gus O'Donnell. The holder of this office is distinct from other people of permanent secretary rank within the Cabinet Office.
By tradition, Permanent Secretaries are usually created a Knight or Dame Commander of the
Order of the Bathat some point after their appointment or on retirement if not already holding the title (although the Permanent Secretary of the Foreign and Commonwealth Officewill be created a Knight or Dame Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. Georgeinstead). The most senior Permanent Secretaries, such as the Secretary of the Cabinet, may be created a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, and even be given a life peerage after retirement. For salary comparison purposes the Permanent Secretary is deemed broadly equivalent to a General and to a High Court Judge.
Current UK Permanent Secretaries
There are currently 25 individuals in UK government departments with the grade of Permanent Secretary and 15 with the grade of Second Permanent Secretary. However, not all have these titles. In addition, one
Executive Agencyhas a Permanent Secretary, Jobcentre Plus.
The following departments are headed by officials who actually hold the title of Permanent Secretary:
* Cabinet Office (also has others of Permanent Secretary rank advising the Prime Minister)
* Her Majesty's Treasury (also has a Second Permanent Secretary)
* Ministry of Justice (also has a Second Permanent Secretary)
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
* Ministry of Defence (also has a Second Permanent Secretary)
Department for Communities and Local Government
Department for Children, Schools and Families
Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
* Department of Health
Department for International Development
Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
Department for Transport
Welsh Assembly Government
Department for Work and Pensions
The following departments are headed by individuals on the same grade who hold different titles:
Government Communications Headquarters
Office for National Statistics
Parliamentary Counsel Office
Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs
Secret Intelligence Service(MI6)
* Security Service (MI5)
Treasury Solicitor's Department
UK Trade and Investment
The following departments of the
Northern Ireland Executiveare also headed by Permanent Secretaries:
Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister
Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure
* Department of Education
Department for Employment and Learning
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment
* Department of the Environment
Department of Finance and Personnel(also has a Second Permanent Secretary)
Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety
Department for Regional Development
Department for Social Development
Outside the UK
Republic of Ireland, the position of Secretary-General of a Department is almost identical to that of a Permanent Secretary in the British Civil Service, with the exception that since the introduction in the mid-1990s, of the "Strategic Management Initiative", the post is no longer permanent, but carries a seven year time limit. This coincided with the introduction of the change of title from the previous title of Secretary. Irish government departments may also have a Second Secretary, which is equivalent to the Second Permanent Secretary grade in the British Civil Service. See also Civil service of the Republic of Ireland.
Other Commonwealth or Westminister-style governments may also have officials holding the title of, or equivalent to, Permanent Secretary. In Canada, the position is
Australiathe position is called the Secretary of the Department, or Director-General of the Department in some states and territories.
In Hong Kong, heads of policy bureaux, i.e. Secretaries, were filled by civil servants until their titles were changed to Permanent Secretaries in 2002, when political appointees filled the positions of secretaries under the second
Tung Chee Huagovernment. Since August 2005, the Office of the Chief Executive also has a permanent secretary. His ranking is, however, lower than most other permanent secretaries as according to the payscale.
In some countries of the Commonwealth the popular term for the equivalent position is now Principal Secretary.
In Germany, the equivalent office is called "Staatssekretär" (state secretary).
New Zealandthe civil service head of a ministry is ordinarily titled the Chief Executive, though in some cases (such as the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service) the title is Director-General. Organisations with enforcement powers, such as the Inland Revenue Department, the New Zealand Police, and the New Zealand Customs Serviceare headed by commissioners. Civil service heads are officially employed by the State Services Commission, further separating them from the politicians who hold ministerial positions.
* When Lord Grey took office as
Prime Minister of the United Kingdomin 1830, Sir John Barrowwas especially requested to continue serving as Secretary in his department (the Admiralty), starting the principle that senior civil servants stay in office on change of government and serve in a non-partisan manner. Indeed, it was during Barrow's occupancy of the post that it was renamed "Permanent" Secretary".
* The most famous (albeit fictional) Permanent Secretary is probably
Sir Humphrey Applebyof the BBC TV series" Yes Minister".
British Civil Service
* [http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/structure/perm_secs.asp List of current UK Permanent Secretaries]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Permanent Secretary — [Permanent Secretary] noun a senior officer in the British Civil Service who often has the job of advising a government minister • the Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office Compare ↑ … Useful english dictionary
Permanent Secretary — Le Permanent Secretary (Secrétaire permanent), officiellement appelé le Permanent Under Secretary of State (Sous Secrétaire d État permanent), est le fonctionnaire supérieur le plus gradé des ministères du gouvernement britannique. Sommaire 1… … Wikipédia en Français
Permanent Secretary — n a senior officer in the British Civil Service who often has the job of advising a government minister: the Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office Compare parliamentary secretary. * * * … Universalium
Permanent Secretary to the Treasury — The Permanent Secretary to the Treasury is the most senior civil servant at HM Treasury. The post originated as that of Assistant Secretary to the Treasury in 1805; that office was given new duties and renamed in 1867 as a Permanent Secretaryship … Wikipedia
Office of the Permanent Secretary (Scotland) — Scotland This article is part of the series: Politics and government of Scotland … Wikipedia
Office of the Permanent Secretary — may refer to: *Office of the Permanent Secretary (Scotland) *Office of the Permanent Secretary (Thailand) … Wikipedia
Permanent Undersecretary — ˌPermanent ˈUndersecretary [Permanent Undersecretary] (also ˌPermanent ˈSecretary) noun (in Britain) a person of high rank in the ↑civil service, who advises a ↑Secretary of State … Useful english dictionary
Secretary to the Treasury — In the United Kingdom, there are at five Secretaries to the Treasury, officials officially acting as secretaries to the Treasury board. The origins of the office are unclear, although it probably originated during Lord Burghley s tenure as Lord… … Wikipedia
permanent — adj. lasting, or intended to last or function, indefinitely (opp. TEMPORARY). Phrases and idioms: permanent magnet a magnet retaining its magnetic properties without continued excitation. Permanent Secretary (or Under secretary etc.) Brit. a… … Useful english dictionary
Secretary General — See also General Secretary. A number of international organizations, communist parties, and other bodies use the title Secretary General or Secretary General for their chief administrative officer.International intergovernmental organizations… … Wikipedia