Her Majesty's Home Civil Service, also known as just the Home Civil Service, is the permanent bureaucracy of Crown employees that supports Her Majesty's Government - the government of the United Kingdom, comprised of a Cabinet of ministerschosen by the prime minister, as well as the devolved administrations in Wales (the Welsh Assembly Government) and Scotland (theScottish Government).
Under the principle of responsible government, ministers are accountable to the Sovereign (The Crown - the monarch of the United Kingdom) and the Parliament of the United Kingdom (and, in the devolved administration in Scotland, the Scottish Parliament) in administering the United Kingdom. However, their executive decisions are implemented by Her Majesty's Civil Service, the British civil service. Civil servants are employees of the Crown and not Parliament. Civil servants also have some traditional and statutoryresponsibilities which to some extent protect them from being used for the political advantage of the party in power. Senior civil servants may be called to account to Parliament.
In general use, the term civil servant in the United Kingdom does not include all public sector employees; although there is no fixed legal definition, the term is usually defined as "a servant of the Crown working in a civil capacity who is not the holder of a political (or judicial) office; the holder of certain other offices in respect of whose tenure of office special provision has been made; [or] a servant of the Crown in a personal capacity paid from the Civil List". As such, the Civil Service does not include government ministers (who are politically appointed), members of the British Armed Forces, police officers, local government officials, members of the National Health Service, or staff of the Royal Household. As of 2007, there are approximately 532,000 (499,000 full-time equivalent) civil servants in the Home Civil Service.
There are two other administratively separate civil services in the United Kingdom. One is for Northern Ireland (the Northern Ireland Civil Service); the other is the foreign service (Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service). The heads of these services are members of the Permanent Secretaries Management Group.