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Flashcards in Cabinet government Deck (28)
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How many ministers in cabinet



How many meetings a week and how long

Once a week, last around 2/3 hours


Name the four key functions of cabinet

1) deciding on policy at home and abroad
2) dealing with unforeseen major problems
3) co-ordinating the policies of different departments
4) planning for the long term


Which function of cabinet is usually achieved well

Dealing with unforeseen major problems - here cabinet room A (Cobra) is used, the government must come to a clear response and must be made quickly


What function of parliament is often achieved less well than any other

Planning for the long term

It is not achieved because pm has power of patronage and can reshuffle at any point- ministers have no job security- makes it difficult to plan for long term as to occupied with the here and now or unforeseen problems


what is the biggest constraint on cabinet

Time- the number of topics that need to be discussed often mean that time spent on each is severely limited


How can the PM manipulate the agenda

By putting what could be considered embarrassing or those which could cause a disagreement low on the agenda - with the idea that they would run out of time to discuss it


What did Nigel Lawson say about cabinet

“a normal cabinet meeting has no chance of becoming a grave forum of statesman like debate“

“Small wonder that most ministers keep silent on most issues”


Name the two types of cabinet committee

Standing committees

Ad hoc committees


What is a standing committee

Permanent committee responsible for particular areas of policy such as Northern Ireland the EU and local government


What is an ad hoc committee

Name and example

Springs up when necessary includes specific people to meet to solve a specific situation

Cobra is a emergency committee


What occurs in a cabinet committee meeting

Important deliberative work is done and committees. They consider issues in more detail than a cabinet meeting

They play an important role in determining and resolve in government policy


Explain the term kitchen cabinet

Used to refer to the advisors and other staff at number 10 who form the so-called in a circle around the Prime Minister


What are bilateral discussions

Meetings between the Prime Minister and the individual ministers


How did Thatcher and tony Blair use bilateral discussions

Use bilateral meetings with individual ministers to determine policy and then use the cabinet to simply announce these decisions


What is the cabinet secretariat

A group of 30 to 40 senior civil servant’s which assist in the running of cabinets

they timetable meetings circulate papers prepare the agenda with the Prime Minister


What is the job of the cabinet secretary

Minute meetings with the PM
Investigate leaks in govt
Enforce cabinet discipline


What is the cabinet government theory

A traditional model of government
Emphasises that power is collective and not personal
Suggests power is located in the cabinet but not all ministers are equal

Underpinned by the concept of cabinet collective responsibility


What does cabinet collective responsibility mean

all ministers are collectively responsible to the House of Commons for government policy

They must all support decisions made in cabinet or resign


What are the three key aspects of cabinet collective responsibility

Unanimity- ministers must all support cabinet decisions because unity and cohesiveness is vital in portraying a strong and focussed government

Confidence- Cabinet must maintain the confidence of the house

Confidentiality- what is said in cabinet remains in cabinet


Advantages of cabinet collective responsibility

✅ensures everyone sings from same hymn sheet- meaning policy is clear and coherent
✅avoids the confusion of when different members of the same administration say different things


Disadvantages of cabinet collective responsibility

❌ministers can get around the convention by using coded language or leaking there views

❌in the past cabinets have been allowed to split, eg 2016 eU referendum- where cabinet were allowed to split regarding issues over Europe so to avoid mass resignations


What was the consequences for allowing cabinet to split over membership of the European Union in 2016

Cabinet no longer seemed unified, no longer a unanimous decision making body making them appear weak


What type of committee meeting did tony Blair favour

Ad hoC and bilateral meetings


What was the state of the cabinet during the coalition

Unable to agree of compromises between each of the partners favoured options


Three reasons how the cabinet limits prime ministers power

1) the pm is only captain of the team, can easily be replaced, idea of “primula inter pares”

2) a disunited cabinet means that pm cannot get legislation passed- therefore appears weak and loses public support

3) coalition government/ need for compromise has made prime ministers power severely limited


Three reasons why the cabinet cannot limit the prime ministers power

1) spatial leadership- leaders deliberately try to make themselves outsiders within government so they can still be part of government but act independently.

2) decisions are made in cabinet committees
Prime minister chairs quite a lot of these- this increases control

3)pm powers of patronage means ministers have to toe the line, pm has ultimate control and can easily reshuffle cabinet


What does primus inter pares mean

First among equals