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What can be done

Leo Pliatzky, 2 August 1984

Government and the Governed 
by Douglas Wass.
Routledge, 120 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 7102 0312 8
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... The 1983-84 series of Reith Lectures was given by Sir Douglas Wass, who retired from the Civil Service in March 1983. He had served in the Treasury since 1946, and had been Permanent Secretary to the Treasury since 1974. The task which he set himself in the lectures was to examine the efficiency and responsiveness of central government in Britain ...

When Labour last ruled

Ross McKibbin, 9 April 1992

‘Goodbye, Great Britain’: The 1976 IMF Crisis 
by Kathleen Burk and Alec Cairncross.
Yale, 268 pp., £18.95, March 1992, 0 300 05728 8
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... is that there was no agreement within the Treasury about what should be done. Sir Douglas Wass, the permanent head, was, at least in the early part of 1976, rather a devaluationist, whereas Healey’s instincts were to worry about the inflationary consequences of devaluation. There were also divisions about the seriousness of ...
The New Select Committees: A Study of the 1979 Reforms 
edited by Gavin Drewry.
Oxford, 410 pp., £25, September 1985, 9780198227854
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Commons Select Committees: Catalysts for Progress? 
edited by Dermot Englefield.
Longman, 288 pp., £15, May 1984, 0 582 90260 6
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British Government and the Constitution: Text, Cases and Materials 
by Colin Turpin.
Weidenfeld, 476 pp., £25, September 1985, 0 297 78651 2
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Parliament in the 1980s 
edited by Philip Norton.
Blackwell, 208 pp., £19.50, July 1985, 0 631 14056 5
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... public debate on policy resulting from ministers and civil servants having to be accountable. Sir Douglas Wass, the former Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, admitted in his 1983 Reith Lectures that ‘the knowledge that your department is going to be examined in detail on the background to a policy statement is a great encouragement to be rigorous in ...

Singing the Blues

Noël Annan, 22 April 1993

A History of Cambridge University. Vol. IV: 1870-1990 
by Christopher Brooke.
Cambridge, 652 pp., £50, December 1992, 9780521343503
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... into disrepute. Virtually nothing was done, and not until 25 years later was a committee under Douglas Wass to come to much the same conclusions. The attempt to rationalise teaching between the university and the colleges met with a similar fate. So did a proposal to give better instruction to graduate students in the humanities. Some from overseas ...

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