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Carltona v Commissioners of Works

[1943] 2 All ER 560

Case summary last updated at 05/01/2020 17:28 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Carltona v Commissioners of Works

The commissioners were given powers under wartime regulations to requisition property. This was done to D by an order signed by  civil servant with the rank of asst. secretary, who was working under the commissioners. 
 
Lord Greene MR: “It cannot be supposed that this regulation meant that, in each case, the minister in person should direct his mind to the matter. The duties imposed upon ministers and the powers given to ministers are normally exercised under the authority of the ministers by responsible officials of the department. Public business could not be carried on if that were not the case. Constitutionally, the decision of such an official is, of course, the decision of the minister. The minister is responsible. It is he who must answer before Parliament for anything that his officials have done under his authority, and, if for an important matter he selected an official of such junior standing that he could not be expected competently to perform the work, the minister would have to answer for that in Parliament. The whole system of departmental organisation and administration is based on the view that ministers, being responsible to Parliament, will see that important duties are committed to experienced officials. If they do not do that, Parliament is the place where complaint must be made against them.” 

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