Reforms to the civil list in the late 18th century in England sought to deny the Crown opportunities to use its civil-list funds and sinecures to buy influence in Parliament and, thereby, diminish constitutional protections for liberty. Among the most important reforms were tighter accounting requirements for civil-list spending, including that for the secret services. The unique nature and purpose of the home and foreign secret services, which were the responsibility of the Crown and paid from civil-service funds, resulted in accounting controls which depended upon additional measures to provide Parliament with greater control over spending and enhanced accountability. These enhancements to accountability were especially important at a time of almost continual war between England and France in the decades spanning the close of the 18th century, resulting in significant increases in spending on the foreign secret service.

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