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the last-named type ; but the French préfet, or the Indian Magistrate and Collector, has no counterpart in England other than the shadowy figure of His Majesty's Lieutenant and the strength of the central administration is thereby substantially reduced. To take a striking illustration, in some European countries the duty of making the elections,' or of influencing voters in favour of a particular party, falls naturally on the préfets or similar officers ; supposing that an English Government should desire to adopt this course, what local agencies has it at command? The Postmaster, the Inspector of Taxes, the Employment Exchange, a Committee of the County Council—the list is nearly exhaustive, and it is sufficient to indicate the limitations on the power of the central administration. A formal treatise would have much to say on the comparative advantages of these different types of agencies in regard to the various operations to be undertaken, but I must pass the subject by, remarking only that the facile system of grants-in-aid to complacent local authorities would by itself require a lengthy chapter.
Assuming then that a Ministry is provided with a sufficient number of local agencies, distributed over the country with reference to its needs, we have next to consider the nature of the connecting mechanism. It is a recognised principle that no individual authority should control more than a limited number of agencies, the number being defined roughly by the urgency services to be rendered. In military administration, where success may be essential to the national life, this limited number is very small indeed, usually less than four; and we have brigades of three regiments, divisions of three brigades, corps of three divisions, and so on. The degree of urgency is normally less in civil administration, and the limit for efficiency is consequently larger; but in countries where the business of the State is highly organised, it is usually less than ten. To take an example from India, an administrative district in the United Provinces contains usually from four to six subdivisions; when the number rises to eight or nine, the charge is recognised as unduly heavy. missioner supervises five or six districts; and, while there are as many as ten Commissioners under the Lieutenant-Governor, it is generally agreed that, for
strictly administrative purposes, the Provinces constitute too large a unit, though considerations of a different order may negative suggestions for their subdivision.
It will be apparent, then, that where a Ministry has to operate over a large and populous area intermediate localised organs become necessary, and that two or more stages of control must be provided. Each stage involves a break in personal contact; and, where the superior cannot see and speak to his subordinates at a moment's notice, he is forced to rely on other methods of communication-correspondence, statistical returns, periodical reports, and inspections made by himself or a member of his staff. In this brief outline I must pass by the numerous questions regarding the due use of each of these methods, and their harmonisation so as to produce the desired result--the efficient execution of the policy with which the Ministry is charged; but, in view of the popular contempt for official statistics, it may be worth while to point out that the use of 'ton-mile figures,' the most spectacular advance in methods of statistical control, comes from private, not public, administration; and, that the systems of 'scientific management,' for which also we are indebted mainly to America, are based on statistics more detailed than can be found in an ordinary public office.
At this point something must be said of two conceptions which are intimately connected with the mechanism of diffused administration, and which are spoken of as Uniformity and Centralisation. Uniformity is in many cases an obvious convenience to the public as well as to administrators; for example, a separate issue of postage stamps for each county would be merely a nuisance. On the other hand, uniformity may be convenient to the administrators, but not to the public; and a Ministry of Agriculture would soon be rendered unpopular by a system applied uniformly to large and small farmers, or failing to distinguish between the needs of arable, grazing, and dairying localities. Uni. formity is always convenient to the administrator, at least for the moment, but it is sometimes opposed to the wider public interest; and the principle is clear, though
may not always be followed, that each proposal for uniformity should be dealt with primarily with regard
to the convenience of the public, to which the convenience of administrators must if necessary give way.
Centralisation, which in essence means the curtail ment of the discretion of local agencies, is closely connected with uniformity; convinced advocates of such curtailment may indeed be found, but it is in great measure a by-product of ordinary administrative activity. An inspector, let us say, finds a particular course of action to be convenient, he enjoins it on the agencies subordinate to him, and their discretion is pro tanto curtailed; presently the attention of headquarters is attracted, the same course of action is enjoined generally, and is given a place in the Ministry's code of rules. Little or no harm may be done by each separate curtailment of discretion, but the cumulative result is to centralise all authority at headquarters; the intermediate organs, and still more the local agencies,can do nothing but apply the rules or refer a question for orders; members of the public find themselves shut off from the seat of power; and the régime of impersonal correspondence becomes established. It must, I think, be recognised that the tendency to centralisation is inherent in all diffused administration, and that no mechanical check on its extension is possible; its restriction within due limits depends on pressure from outside, exerted either by a statesman brought in as Minister or through the organs of public opinion.
We must now turn to the headquarters of the Ministry. In countries where popular government is established, the direction is ordinarily shared between the Minister, whose tenure depends mainly on the Legislature, and the Permanent Chief, who is necessarily an experienced administrator; and the precise division of functions probably depends less on principle than on the idiosyncrasies of Minister and Chief. Below them, the Ministry is organised into branches or departments, each responsible for some particular subdivision of the prescribed activity, and engaged in drafting orders, supervising their execution, and seeing that effect is given to the policy indicated by the Minister.
This internal organisation is complex, and requires detailed study; all that can be said here is that it appears probable that this branch of administration, more than
any other, can benefit by the experience of progressive business offices in simplifying and accelerating the routine of procedure.
Now the segregation of departments within the Ministry involves a certain danger of discord, or at least failure to preserve complete harmony; and here we approach the important subject of Co-ordination. The Minister must be in a position to drive his departments as a team, each doing its own share and making things easier for the others; and in this matter we may accept the principle formulated by Lord Haldane's Committee on the Machinery of Government, that Councils should be formed within at any rate the larger ministries, similar to the Army Council or the Board of Admiralty.* A Council of this kind serves a twofold purpose : it advises the Minister on policy during the stage of discussion, and it co-ordinates administration when the policy has been formulated ; but its utility for either
purpose will be greatly increased by the establishment of an Intelligence branch, charged with the systematic study of what other Ministries, and Ministries in other countries, are doing. Formerly an organised intelligence system was practically confined in this country to Defence administration ; but some years ago the Board of Education gave an admirable lead on the civil side ; other Ministries followed during the period of the War; and Lord Haldane's Committee have recommended similar action in all but the smallest units, & recommendation which will be supported without qualification by the great majority of experienced administrators.
This recognition of the need for internal Councils and organised intelligence systems may be taken as a definite advance in administrative theory ; the position in regard to the all-important subject of financial control is less satisfactory, for it is not yet possible to point to any system which can be recommended on a firm basis of experience. The principle is established that individual
* These Internal Councils must be distinguished both from the old Boards and from the new Advisory Councils. The Board was, in theory at least
, collectively responsible to Parliament; the Minister is responsible individually, and must therefore be free to accept or reject the views of any Council, whether it be internal or external.
Ministries cannot be given an entirely free hand eithe to frame estimates of their expenditure or to spend the grants when allotted, and from an early stage of develop ment we find powers of control in these matters assigned to a separate Finance Ministry, known in this country a the Treasury. Experience has, however, shown that while this arrangement may secure momentary economy it may be costly in the long run, because it may be s worked as to weaken the sense of financial responsibility throughout the administration as a whole.
A Ministry charged with certain services aims primarily at rendering those services efficiently; efficiency requires or seems to require, money; and, when the sense of responsibility is weak, the estimates framed by the Ministry will inevitably tend to be maxima, since ar administrator dreads nothing more than to be caugh short of funds in an emergency, while money which has been granted will usually be spent lest subsequent grants should be curtailed. The Treasury, on the other hand, aims primarily at economy; and the conflict between these ideals tends to degenerate almost into a game. In order to safeguard itself against Treasury reductions the Ministry asks for more money than it actually needs; the Treasury knows that there is a margin for curtailment but has to guess at its extent; and the tendency is for that Ministry to be best provided with funds which is most importunate in pressing its needs upon the Treasury. The difficulty, which is rooted deeply in human nature, has been recognised by Lord Haldane's Committee, and their proposals are in accordance with theory, in that they aim at strengthening the sense of financial responsibility within the Ministry; but they cannot be regarded as a definite solution until more experience of their practical working becomes available. I do not know of any country where the difficulty is not present in greater or less degree; and the only conclusion which can be offered is that the matter is one for wellplanned and sustained experiment.
The difficulty is perhaps greatest in regard to the strength and remuneration of the staff to be employed, a question which has of late been brought prominently before the public in this country. It is certainly asking too much of human nature to expect uncontrolled