Ministers no longer allowed to personally select staff, new code says

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Controversial Government rules allowing ministers to hand-pick staff for their private offices appear to have been scrapped, official documents show.

A section on the creation of Extended Ministerial Offices (EMOs) has been removed from the ministerial code, which sets out the rules and standards for ministers.

The idea was introduced by former cabinet office minister Francis Maude in the coalition government 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 introduced 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 the shake-up could politicise Whitehall, insisting 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 Theresa 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".