The Cabinet and the Prime Minister

  • S. G. Richards


The government consists of 100 or so Ministers of varying ranks. Secretaries of State, together with the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, are the political heads of departments. Other political heads have traditional titles, like that of Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord President of the Council, Lord Privy Seal and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. A departmental Minister will usually have a junior Minister (sometimes two or more) with the rank of Parliamentary Secretary (or Parliamentary Under-Secretary if the head is a Secretary of State). He will sometimes also have a Minister of State, who has a status intermediate between these two ranks. This is particularly the case in a large department like Environment, where there are two senior Ministers of State1 responsible, under the Secretary of State, for particular aspects of its work, namely Housing and Construction, and Local Government. Parliamentary Private Secretaries are unpaid aides to Ministers. While they are not formally members of the government, they are expected not to be too much at variance with government policies. Occasionally a Prime Minister has required the resignation of those who have opposed it in the House on important issues.


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  1. J. P. Mackintosh, The British Cabinet (London: Stevens, 3rd edn, 1976)Google Scholar
  2. P. Gordon Walker, The Cabinet (London: Foritana, 1972)Google Scholar
  3. W. Bagehot (introduction by R. H. S. Crossman), The English Constitution (London: Fontana, 1963)Google Scholar
  4. R. K. Mosley, The Story of the Cabinet Office (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969)Google Scholar
  5. R. H. S. Crossman, Inside View (Cape, 1972)Google Scholar
  6. R. Blake, The Office of Prime Minister (London: Oxford University Press, 1975)Google Scholar
  7. R. H. S. Crossman, The Diaries of a Cabinet Minister, vols I and II (London: Hamish Hamilton & Cape, 1975 and 1976).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© S.G. Richards 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. G. Richards
    • 1
  1. 1.Hammersmith and West London CollegeUK

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