The Cabinet


What is the Cabinet

The Cabinet is the:

  • Committee of leading members of the govt. 
  • This consists of 20-23 members, who are mostly secretaries of state responsible for running Whitehall Departments. 
  • Chancellor of the Exchequer, foreign secretary, home secretary and the deputy prime minister, are the best jobs in the Cabinet. 
  • Some Ministers may form an inner circle, who are consulted more frequently by the PM. 
    • This is known as 'kitchen cabinet.'
  • Since Thatcher's time, the Cabinet has met once a week. 
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The role of the cabinet

The UK is seen as a cabinet government because it has collective responsbility:

  • This is where the cabinet govt fuses the executive and legislative branches (the members of Govt department draws up legislations, whilst being accountable to Parliament). 
  • Collective responsibility is the senior executive organ, which controls policu making processes and makes all major govt decisions. 
  • Policy is made democratically with each member's views carrying equal weight (Primus inter Pares).
  • It has been widely accepted that the cabinet has lost out to the PM, because the idea of all decisions being made once a week, under 2 hours, is ridiculous. 
  • It is now accepted that most policy debate occurs elsewhere. 
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Ministers and Civil Servants

Ministers are made accountable to Parliament due to Parliamentary executive:

  • Junior Ministers are members of a legislative body, who holds a position in govt below cabinet level. 
    • This includes reporting to the head of department, not the PM. 
    • These try to gain ministerial position. 
  • Civil servants are appointed govt officials. These include anyone who works for the govt. 
  • Civil servants' role include:
    • To advice ministers on policy and to implement govt policy. 
    • Their purpose is to improve the efficiency of govt and the effectivness of policy making. 
    • They do all the research on policies for the Ministers, and may draft them, such as SIs. 
    • Their position is permanent, even if the govt changes, and are anonymous. 
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The distinction between ministers and civil servan

The distinction between ministers and civil servants is that:

  • Ministers:
    • Make 'major' decisions and have a significant impact on the public. 
    • Their policy decisions and knowledge is largely based on the advice and researched given by civil servants. 
  • Whereas civil servants:
    • Research the policy and advice the ministers based on this research. 
    • They have more knowledge on the department they are working for. 
    • They are usually well educated, middle class and may have Conservative bias. 
    • E.g. It has been thought that civil servants, under Thatcher, were concerned with career self-interest and unsympathetic to the rolling back of the state. 
    • However, it has been argued that the civil service now has too little power, rather than too much. 
    • This is because they rely on political advisors, such as a 'think tank' body of experts providing advice on political and economic problems. 
    • E,g, David Nut adviced Lib Dems that Cannabis is fine to smoke, so he got the sack. 
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The distinction between ministers and civil servan

Ministers are:

  • Elected politicians (to be in the HOC-not elected as a minister).
  • Party Members
  • Their position is temporary.
  • They are public figures.
  • Ministers run government departments. 
  • They make policy. 
  • They are responsible to Parliament.

Whereas, civil servants are:

  • Appointed officials. 
  • Politically neutral
  • Their position is permanent. 
  • THey are anonymous
  • They work in departments. 
  • They advice on policy
  • They responsible to ministers. 
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