The Executive

  • Created by: Isabella
  • Created on: 30-04-13 10:50


The branch of Government which has sole authority and responsbility of the daily adminstration of the state

The PM is head of the executive

Excecutive power is based at 10 Downing Street. Includes PM, his/her office, cabinet and committees

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Roles/Functions of the PM

  • Head of the Executive- of whole administrative structure and execepted to be questioned or held accountable (local issues as education or the armed forces)
  • Policy maker- Responsible for all national policy (eg Health), but strong party members can make this difficult
  • Provides vision and strategic direction of the country, and how to acheive that (for example, getting closer to Europe)
  • Party head- in charge of party policy and important role in winning elections
  • Patronage- important role in appointing new members of the House of Lords and C of E bishops
  • Parliament- leader of Parliament
  • Overseas- meet and greet international leaders and attend global conferences (G8, for example)
  • Communicator- to Parliament, the public and media as to what is happening and why
  • Decision making- needs to make all necessary decisions to run the UK smoothly
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Powers of the PM

  • Appoint and dismiss ministers-reward those who are loyal and obedient, dimiss those who are opponents or rivals (Cameron's first task was to appoint the Cabinet)
  • Appoint cabinet committees- decide who is on what committee
  • Other appointments- important roles in the army or the BBC
  • Control of government agenda- give policies that they favour, their prioirty (eg Thatcher and privatsation, Blair and Iraq War)
  • Control civil service- appoint heads of the civil service to assure they are loyal
  • Control of parliament- a majority means that their ideas could become law
  • Influence over media- setting agenda of media (Blair was good, Brown was not)
  • Influences in peerages and other honours- controlled by PM (Blair and Brown both put their long term supporters in the Lords)
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Factors Limting/Greatening Powers

Greatening Powers

  • Good electoral performance (Thatcher and Blair both won 3 elections)
  • Policy success
  • Good media coverage for the PM
  • Economy
  • Personality

Limiting Powers

  • Varying support in party
  • Size of majoirty
  • State of economy
  • Party divisions
  • Coalitions
  • Media coverage
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The Cabinet

PM's relationship with the Cabinet:

  • PM chairs the Cabinet
  • Decides who is in the Cabinet and the Cabinet committees

Role of Cabinet

  • Vital for coalition government
  • Debating ground in recent years
  • Responsible for crisis mangement
  • Sets parliamentary agenda
  • May be seen as to large for effective decision taking
  • Thatcher, Blair, Brown criticized for downplaying the role of the Cabinet

Membership of the Cabinet

  • Decided by the PM
  • Usually 20 or more people
  • Includes key ministers (Chancellor, Foreign Secetary)
  • May include some members of the Lords
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The Cabinet- continued

Structure of Cabinet

  • Played a smaller role since Thatcher
  • Minsteral standing committees- specifics areas or issues (domestic affairs, etc.)
  • Ministeral sub committees- reports to standing committees
  • AD HOC temporary commitees dealing with issues such as influenza
  • Official commitee of the Civil Service- shadow minsteral committee
  • Blair chaired 15 out of 44, Cameron only chairs/co chairs five

Collective reponsbility

  • When appointed to government have to accept collective respsonbility
  • Treat all business as confidental and do not leak to the press
  • Support the policies, even if you disagree with them. If you disagree with them, resign (Short and Cook over Iraq War, for example)
  • Provides ministers with support for agendas
  • However, it also means that ministers have to defend policies they do not agree with
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Roles of Ministers

  • Types of ministers; senior minsters (cabinet and head of govt. departments), ministers of state and parliamentary under secetary, junior ministers (specific roles in departments), parliamentary private secetary (unpaid assisstants to ministers)
  • More than 100 ministers in government- allocated positions in government and the EU
  • Policy leadership- policy intiation and selections
  • Representing departmental issues- represent issues of department to both government and the EU
  • Departmental management- set objectives and internal distributions of resources
  • Relations with Parliament-steer department bills through Parliament, this makes them accountable for the bills
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The Civil Service

Roles of Civil Servants

  • Groups of offficials who served the state and implements the law whether they like it or not
  • Roles such as creating computer software for civil servants was privatised under Thatcher
  • Worked in agencies such as Prison Agency after 1998 Major changes (75% of all civil servants)
  • Main role is to advise ministers on what they want and need and advice impartially to the best of their abilites
  • Warn ministers the consequences of their actions

Ministeral Responsbility

  • Accountable to Parliament for their own personal code of conduct and general conduct for their department
  • Inform Parliament of all nessecary actions
  • Uphold "ministeral code" giving accurate evidence to Parliament (2004, Beverly Hughes, checks on migrants from Eastern Europe)
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The Civil Service- continued

Relationship between Ministers and Senior Civil Servants

  • Treasury was in charge of the Civil Service
  • Civil servants have to carry out what ministers say, even if they belive it is wrong or they feel the minister is ignorant
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Development in the Core Executive

Support team in No. 10 has grown over the years (Blair went from 100 people working for him to 200 people working for him, including Jonathan Powell and Alastair Campbell)

Coalition cabinet; partners on all major issues. Put collective responsbility under stress

Tony Blair had a lot of bilateral meetings as he used the informal "sofa government" methods where he spoke 1 on 1 with selected minister

Growth of poltical advisors in recent years where before ministers took their advisors from the Civil Service

Advisors come from a different background and given similar salaries then the civil service

Quangos are appointed by ministers and are privately hired and accountable to that minister.

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