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The Treasury and Whitehall: The Planning and Control of Public Expenditure, 1976-1993


  • Thain, Colin

    (University of Ulster)

  • Wright, Maurice

    (University of Manchester)


The Treasury is at the heart of British Government, responsible for deciding how much to spend and on what. Both the institution and the public expenditure process are the focus of `The Treasury and Whitehall', a tour de force of contemporary policy analysis. Based on research undertaken with the cooperation of the Treasury and Whitehall departments, it shows how the key decisions of planning, allocating and controlling public expenditure are made. With unique access to treasury Expenditure Controllers and senior financial officials in the main spending departments, the book provides a detailed and authoritative account of the roles, relationships and inter-actions of the key players in Whitehall Expenditure Community as they confront each other in annual rituals of the Expenditure 'Survey'. Thain and Wright explain how the rules of the expenditure game were re-drawn in the 1980s in the relentless search for cuts, greater economy and efficiency in the design and delivery of public services, and the creation of a more enterprising administrative culture. The authors explain how and why the Treasury was rarely able to impose its constitutional authority to stem the tide of rising public expenditure through the turbulent years of the Thatcher and Major Governments. They show that the Treasury is locked into a system of mutually constrained power-relationships with the Whitehall departments, and obliged to negotiate discretionary authority to control their spending.

Suggested Citation

  • Thain, Colin & Wright, Maurice, 1995. "The Treasury and Whitehall: The Planning and Control of Public Expenditure, 1976-1993," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198277842.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxp:obooks:9780198277842

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    Cited by:

    1. Peter M. Jackson, 2014. "Thatcherism and the public sector," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(3), pages 266-280, May.
    2. Maurice Wright, 1999. "Coping with Fiscal Stress: Illusion and Reality in Central Government Budgeting in Japan," NBER Chapters,in: Fiscal Institutions and Fiscal Performance, pages 349-376 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Colin Thain, 2010. "Budget Reform in the United Kingdom: The Rocky Road to ‘Controlled Discretion'," Chapters,in: The Reality of Budgetary Reform in OECD Nations, chapter 3 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. G. Thomas & Neal Jesse, 2012. "Social Well-Being in Northern Ireland: A Longitudinal Study 1958–1998," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 106(2), pages 199-212, April.
    5. Simon Lee, 2011. "The Political Economy of the Third Way: The Relationship between Globalisation and National Economic Policy," Chapters,in: The Handbook of Globalisation, Second Edition, chapter 20 Edward Elgar Publishing.

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