The Ministry was created for Harold Wilson on 1 November 1968 when responsibilities for the pay and management of the civil service was transferred from HM Treasury to a new Civil Service Department. In recognition of the primary authority of the Prime Minister over the Civil Service, it is a constitutional convention that the Ministry would always be held by the Prime Minister. The list of Ministers for the Civil Service is therefore identical to the list of Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom from 1968 onwards.
By the terms of the Civil Service (Management Functions) Act 1992, the Minister may delegate his or her power to ministers and others such as the Scottish Government. Prime Minister Gordon Brown appointed Tom Watson to be responsible for the civil service as the Minister for Digital Engagement and Civil Service Issues.