The Government and Cabinet




 

10, Downing Street – PM and the Cabinet. The White Hall – Her Majesty’s Government, governs in the name of the Queen. The Queen invites the leader of the party that has the majority to form a government. The Ministers are almost always the members of the Commons, also a few – Lords. It is based on a tradition, because in the Commons the Government is expected to explain its policies. In 19th century some Governments included members of different parties.

The main ministers and departments. ~100 Ministers, the central core is the Cabinet - ~20 senior Ministers invited by the PM, they are called the Secretaries of State. Minister – a junior member of the Cabinet. Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Foreign Secretary) – Jack Straw; Chancellor of the Exchequer (Minister of Finance) – Gordon Brown; Home Secretary (Home Department); Secretary for Defense, for Culture, Media and Sport, Education and Employment, Social Security, for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland.

The main principles: 1 collective responsibility (as if they were one person) even if individuals do not agree. If a Minister has done something wrong, his colleagues have to disown him/her, will have to resign. 2 PM first among equals. In theory the 2nd is supposed to encourage balance and freedom for individual ministers, in practice it can give rise to tension. Insure leadership, allow for each minister some responsibility and freedom in their field.

Cabinet meetings are held in private, 1-2 a week, while the Parliament is sitting, or, less often, during parliamentary recess. The proceedings are confidential, secretaries take a special oath not to disclose. Because of the great amount of business, Secretaries have junior Ministers working under them – Ministers of State (Undersecretaries).

Civil Service – a political body which administers the decisions of the Ministers. Employed ~600,000 civil servants, expected to be politically impartial, serves any government, equally loyal to whatever party is in office; if they want to stand for the Parliament they have to resign first. Centre – the Cabinet Office, responsibilities – considerable, including the proper running of the whole Civil Service.

 

The Local Government

 

1995-1998 – the system was reformed.

Types. 45 Unitary authorities, mostly around the big cities. Now the system of local government has one-tier authorities, only unitary. 2-tier authorities: county councils (councillor), subdivided into district / borough councils (mayors). In England – 45 u. c., 34 c. c. and 238 d. / b. c. Local elections – for 4 years, councillors elect annually, serve on voluntary basis; the council doesn’t have executive powers, no administrator – basically self-regulating. The Queen’s represented by Lord Lieutenant of the county, attends on the Queen when she comes to the county, gives honours and grants on behalf of the crown.

Functions. Responsible for education, the maintenance of the main roads, social services, welfare, libraries, fire service, refuse disposal. District councils: housing, urban roads, car parks, refuse collection, recreation, cemeteries, environmental health. Unitary councils – combine all these functions. Parish councils – in rural.

Sources of financing. 1 the council tax – on the owner-occupier or tenant of a dwelling which is their sole or main residence. Calculate: depending on evaluation of the market price of the dwelling. Standard Band D, divide dwellings into groups. 2 non-domestic rate – on other kinds of property; 3 government grants; 4 income from fees and charges for services.

London. 32 borough councils. The London mayor – Ken Livingston. Greater London authority (GLA) covers the area of 32 boroughs and the City of London. The Corporation of London: the Lord-Mayor – nominated annually by the City Guilds, 24 Aldermen, 130 councillors.

Wales. Only unitary authorities (22). Besides – devolution – the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff for 4 years, 60 members and presiding officer. Can introduce secondary legislation, on the basis of acts passed by the Parliament in Westminster, cannot raise or lower income tax. The Welsh Cabinet – 1st Secretary, secretaries for minor matters (~ economic development, education, health, etc.). Have measure of independence nowadays.

Scotland. 29 unitary authorities, for 3 years, elected. + 3 island councils. Have greater independence than Wales. The Scottish Parliament, in Edinburgh, since 1999, 128 members. Has the right to introduce primary legislation and raise / lower income tax by up to 3p in the pound. The Scottish Executive – the government, for education, health, law and order, headed by the 1st Minister. Own notes – Scottish pound.

Northern Ireland: 26 district councils elected for 4 years.

 

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