History of The Cabinet of The United Kingdom - Meetings of The Cabinet

Meetings of The Cabinet

The Cabinet meets on a regular basis, usually weekly on a Thursday morning notionally to discuss the most important issues of government policy, and to make decisions. Despite the custom of meeting on a Thursday, after the appointment of Gordon Brown as Prime Minister the meeting day was switched to Tuesday. However, since becoming prime minister, David Cameron has held his cabinet meetings on Thursdays again. The length of meetings varies according to the style of the Prime Minister and political conditions, but today meetings can be as little as 30 minutes in length, which suggests announcement or ratification of decisions taken in committee, by informal groups, or in bi-lateral discussions between the Prime Minister and individual colleagues, with discussion in Cabinet itself very limited. The Prime Minister normally has a weekly audience with the Queen thereafter.

The Cabinet has numerous sub-committees which focus on particular policy areas, particularly ones which cut across several ministerial responsibilities, and therefore need coordination. These may be permanent committees or set up for a short duration to look at particular issues ("ad hoc committees"). Junior ministers are also often members of these committees, in addition to Secretaries of State. The transaction of government business through meetings of the Cabinet and its many committees is administered by a small secretariat within the Cabinet Office. Consequent Orders in Council are normally made by the Queen-in-Council with a quorum of the Privy Council, which meets monthly or ad-hoc.

The Institute for Government claims that the reduced number of full Cabinet meetings signify "that the role of Cabinet as a formal decision-making body has been in decline since the war."

Most Prime Ministers have had a so-called "kitchen cabinet" consisting of their own trusted advisers who may be Cabinet members but are often trusted personal advisers on their own staff. In recent governments, generally from Margaret Thatcher, and especially in that of Tony Blair, it has been reported that many or even all major decisions have been made before cabinet meetings. This suggestion has been made by former ministers such as Clare Short and Chris Smith, in the media, and was made clear in the Butler Review, where Blair's style of "sofa government" was censured.

Read more about this topic:  History Of The Cabinet Of The United Kingdom

Famous quotes containing the words cabinet and/or meetings:

    Fences, unlike punishments, clearly mark out the perimeters of any specified territory. Young children learn where it is permissible to play, because their backyard fence plainly outlines the safe area. They learn about the invisible fence that surrounds the stove, and that Grandma has an invisible barrier around her cabinet of antique teacups.
    Jeanne Elium (20th century)

    I have been reporting club meetings for four years and I am tired of hearing reviews of the books I was brought up on. I am tired of amateur performances at occasions announced to be for purposes either of enjoyment or improvement. I am tired of suffering under the pretense of acquiring culture. I am tired of hearing the word “culture” used so wantonly. I am tired of essays that let no guilty author escape quotation.
    Josephine Woodward, U.S. author. As quoted in Everyone Was Brave, ch. 3, by William L. O’Neill (1969)