- The Cabinet is a group of senior government ministers chosen by the Prime Minister.
- Most members are heads of government departments and are known as Secretaries of State.
- The Cabinet usually comprises around 20 to 25 members, although the size can vary.
Role of the Cabinet
- Makes decisions on significant issues of government policy, especially those which cut across several departments.
- Chairs Cabinet meetings typically held weekly when Parliament is in session, functioning as the main forum for collective decision-making.
Cabinet Collective Responsibility
- An important convention, Cabinet Collective Responsibility, requires Cabinet members to publicly support all government decisions made in Cabinet, even if they do not privately agree with them.
- Resignation or dismissal may follow if a Cabinet minister acts against this principle.
Individual Ministerial Responsibility
- Cabinet ministers hold a portfolio for which they are personally accountable, a principle known as Individual Ministerial Responsibility.
- They are accountable to Parliament for the actions and competency of their department.
Impact on Legislation
- The Cabinet plays a significant role in the passage of legislation. Proposed laws often stem from Cabinet discussions.
- Cabinet members usually lead the introduction and debate of their respective departments’ legislation in Parliament.
Prime Minister’s Role
- The Prime Minister acts as the Chair of Cabinet meetings and has the authority to make appointments and dismissals.
- While the PM is ‘first among equals’, they hold more power than other cabinet members in terms of decision-making and influence.
Remember: Understanding the role, structure and significance of the Cabinet is key to understanding UK political leadership and the functioning of government.