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Ministers no longer able to personally select staff as May amends code

Theresa May has scrapped controversial Government rules which allowed ministers to hand-pick staff for their private offices.

It is understood that the Prime Minister abandoned the coalition-era system to avoid the politicisation of the Civil Service.

A section on the creation of Extended Ministerial Offices (EMOs) has been now removed from an updated version of the ministerial code.

EMOs were introduced by former Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude and allowed the creation of offices of a dozen or more civil servants and special advisers personally appointed by Secretaries of State.

The idea proved controversial when launched in 2013, with unions warning that it could lead to a system where civil servants were loyal to their political masters rather than the taxpayer.

But Mr Maude rejected claims that the shake-up could politicise Whitehall, insisting that measures had been put in place to prevent the development of "Praetorian guards" within departments where officials were loyal only to their political bosses.

The new version of the ministerial code, quietly published by the Government on Wednesday alongside a mass of "transparency data", also contains a new foreword by Mrs May.

In it, the Prime Minister tells ministers to put themselves "firmly at the service of ordinary working people" and recognise the "enormous privilege" of their jobs.

Mrs May urges her ministerial colleagues to use the code to underpin their conduct as part of efforts to create a "fairer Britain" where "everybody plays by the same rules".

"In abiding by it, we will show that Government can be a force for good and that people can trust us to get on with the job and deliver the change they need," she adds.

The PM did not replicate her predecessor David Cameron's insistence that ministers must be "transparent in all we do".

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