Special advisers : their place in British government
This thesis examines the recruitment, role, and effectiveness of special advisers to departmental ministers between 1970 and 1987 and attempts to establish whether their place in the British system of government has become institutionalized. Interviews with 160 advisers, ministers and former officials, a questionnaire completed by advisers, and relevant contemporary literature, provided the principal data. The literature, with its diverse theories on ministers' roles and relationships with the permanent bureaucracy, supplied a framework within which modelling was conducted on both the potential place for advisers in the system and the needs of ministers for extra assistance. An exploration of reasons given by ministers for appointing advisers shows how far ministers felt these needs. Evidence from the questionnaires and interviews reveals the wide range of activities in which advisers engage and that their role and place are products of the interplay of various factors. Variations in the effectiveness of advisers are analysed along with case studies illustrating their occasional impact on policy making. Limitations on advisers, and the characteristics of effective ones, are identified. Most features of the advisers' potential place within the system are shown to exist, along with an increased formalization of the role. Although they are only a partial solution to ministers' problems, the issue seems to have become not whether they have a place, but how it might be extended.