What Are The Functions Of The British Cabinet?


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Rob Wells Profile
Rob Wells answered
Perhaps the main function of the British Cabinet is their role of formal policy approval. Even though the debating side of things and the formulation of policies take place elsewhere any actions that are taken must be approved by the cabinet in order for it to become official government policy. There is no reason why the prime minister would not just make the decision himself without addressing the cabinet as there is nothing out ruling it. For example the decision to let the Bank of England have semi-independence on setting the interest rates in May 1997 was made by Tony Blair and the only person he consulted was with the Chancellor at the time, Gordon Brown.
Another function of the Cabinet is for policy coordination. This is said to be the key role in modern Cabinet. The cabinet administrates all of the departments and makes sure that all of the ministers know what is going on in their department and other departments. The Cabinet also helps reconcile the responsibilities of the ministers in their individual departments with their responsibilities with the government as a whole. Overall it helps each department in the higher ranking more senior areas of government together.
The ability to resolve disputes is also a quality of the cabinet. Most of the disputes about differences between ministers and departments are resolved at a lower level. If in need, the Cabinet can act as a final court for disagreements that cannot be resolved.
Another role of the Cabinet is a forum for debate. It can be used as a place where people can gather and then the prime minister or other ministers can sound their own opinions, raise issues and stimulate discussion. Nevertheless this can be very counter-productive and therefore time is very limited for this kind of thing as cabinet time is usually devoted to government business.
Having a Cabinet also makes party management a lot easier. It takes into account the full views and morals of each party. This is why the chief whip will attend all cabinet meetings and will be a full cabinet member.

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Richard Marsden Profile
Richard Marsden answered
The functions of the Cabinet are policy making, the supreme control of government and the coordination of government departments. The Cabinet, therefore has two main roles; to propose legislation and to supervise administration.

Full meetings of the Cabinet usually take place once or twice a week, each only taking a maximum of two hours in duration. It is therefore not feasible for the full Cabinet to carry out detailed policy making over all areas covered by government policy. The Cabinet's dual role rests upon the party system. The outcome of elections determines the party balance in the Commons, and therefore which party or parties forms the government. The government then has a duty to implement party policy as presented in its election manifesto, the Cabinet's policy-making role clearly has a party political dimension. The Cabinet also depends on party support in the House of Commons for its continued existence.

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