'Officials tried not to rock boat'
Published 05/09/2015 | 02:30
Career civil servants were "all too willing to tell their masters what they wanted to hear", according to a former Assistant Principal Economist at the Department of Finance.
Robert Pye has told the Banking Inquiry that a common expression in the department in the run-up to the financial crisis was "don't rock the boat". He described a department where "contrarian views were strongly discouraged" and where senior management were so overworked they "virtually lost the ability to take an adversarial position on anything".
"There was a marked reluctance to tackle any issue that might prove to be politically sensitive, even where there was strong analytical support for a contrarian view," said Mr Pye. He also insisted the department had all the staff and expertise needed to do its job properly.
"Its failures were related entirely to its inability to take a view on any aspect of public policy that differed, even moderately, from the stance favoured by the government."
Mr Pye said he had tried several times to raise issues in seven 'warning' papers without success. There was a general lack of awareness at Principal Officer level and above of the risks of the unprecedented expansion in credit, he added.