1) Introduction To British Cabinet:
In Great Britain, concept of Cabinet was evolved during reign of King George I. However, modern Cabinet system was developed during 20th century. British Cabinet is main decision-making body of the executive and is the executive committee of British King/Queen’s Privy Council. In British Cabinet, there are the most senior government ministers and these ministers are called Cabinet-Ministers.
2) Composition Of British Cabinet:
In Great Britain, cabinet is the most effective committee at the center of the British political system and is the supreme decision-making body in government. Following points are important as far as composition of British-Cabinet is concerned:
- i. Appointment of ministers
- ii. Status of British Prime Minister
- iii. Distribution of responsibilities & departments among ministers
- iv. Reshuffling of cabinet
- v. Privy Councilors
- vi. Status of British-Ministers
i. Appointment Of Ministers:
British King/Queen usually appoints ministers on advice of Prime Minister. Most of ministers are taken from House of Commons, but some ministers can also be taken from House of Lords. However, it is very rare to take ministers from outside of the Houses of Parliament.
ii. Status Of British Prime Minister:
British Prime Minister is not only head of British government, but is also leader of British-Cabinet. Prime Minister is responsible for allocating functions to ministers. Prime Minister chairs meetings of British-Cabinet.
iii. Distribution Of Responsibilities & Departments Among Ministers:
It is British Prime Minister, who possesses discretion to allocate responsibilities and departments to ministers.
iv. Reshuffling Of Cabinet:
Through reshuffling of cabinet, any change can be brought into composition of British-Cabinet. British Prime Minister possesses power to reshuffle his/her cabinet.
v. Privy Councilors:
British-Cabinet is a committee of British King/Queen’s Privy Council. Therefore, all members of British-Cabinet are also Privy Councilors.
vi. Status Of British-Ministers:
Each minister of British-Cabinet is allotted a government department. Most of ministers of British-Cabinet are generally heads of such government departments.
3) Functions Of British Cabinet:
British-Cabinet is the most effective committee of British government. It is to perform legislative and executive functions. Followings are main functions of British-Cabinet:
- i. Determination of government
- ii. policy Control of national executive
- iii. Legislative function
- iv. Determination of finance
- v. Coordination:
i. Determination Of Government-Policy
An important function of British-Cabinet is to determine government policy regarding both national as well as international matters.
ii. Control Of National Executive:
British-Cabinet is the supreme national executive. The Cabinet exercises all the executive powers, which are vested in British King/Queen, Cabinet Ministers preside over the major departments of government and carry out the policies, which are determined by British-Cabinet or approved by British-Parliament.
iii. Legislative Function:
It is British-Cabinet, which makes legislative programme at the beginning of every Parliamentary session. The cabinet formulates Bill on all significant matters and introduces these Bills in British Parliament.
iv. Determination of finance:
British-Cabinet is responsible for the whole expenditures of the State. It is also responsible for raising necessary revenues to such expenditures. It is British-Cabinet, which initially decides to impose, reduce or abolish taxes. In addition to this, British-Cabinet also prepares annual budget and presents it to British Parliament.
To create coordination and provide guidance for functions of several departments of government is another function of British-Cabinet.
4) Cabinet In Great Britain Is Omnipotent & Virtual Dictator Of The Country:
Due to ever growing authority, powers and domination of British-Cabinet, it has been opined that British-Cabinet is omnipotent and virtual dictator of the country. However, it is not fair to state that British-Cabinet is absolute omnipotent and virtual dictator of the country. The reality is that British-Cabinet is though omnipotent and virtual dictator to some extent, yet there are some checks on its powers, authority and domination. Followings are two main checks:
- i. Influence of electorate
- ii. Accountability
(i) Influence Of Electorate:
No-doubt, British-Cabinet can introduce any Bill in House of Commons and get it approved as Act due to majority in the House. Similarly, British-Cabinet can impose any tax. However, British-Cabinet has to consider the effect of legislation or imposition of tax upon its supporters in electorate. It means that electorate has some influence upon British-Cabinet and such influence is, in fact, a kind of check on virtual dictatorship of HONEY Constitutional Law-1 British-Cabinet.
During question period in any session of House of Commons, Members of Parliament can question government ministers regarding their departments. In fact, this question period provides Members of Parliament an opportunity to make accountability of government policy. And this accountability is a kind of check on virtual dictatorship of British-Cabinet.
To conclude, it can be stated that history is repeating itself in Great Britain. Initially, Parliament became dominant over British Monarch by sharing powers with British Monarch. Later on, House of Commons became dominant over House of Lords by sharing powers with House of Lords within Parliament. And now British-Cabinet is becoming dominant over Parliament by sharing powers with Parliament.