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HOME : THE CABINET

Collective Responsibility

Joining the Cabinet brings with it individual responsibilities to perform and run their departments or portfolio to the satisfaction of the Prime Minister.
“They are responsible for the actions, successes and failures of their departments.” If they do not perform they may be ‘shuffled’ into another ministerial slot as part of a cabinet reshuffle, demoted to a more junior position or dropped completely and returned to either the back benches of the House of Commons or to the House of Lords.

It also brings responsibilities as a ‘collective’. Through the Ministerial Code, decisions made by the Cabinet are binding on all members of the Government. This means that even if you disagreed with a course of action privately in the meeting you must follow the decision made by the majority, and do so publicly, or otherwise resign. An example of this was Robin Cook who whilst in Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government felt that he could not support the decision support the invasion of Iraq. He therefore resigned.
The perceived benefits of this are that it keeps the Government united (particularly in the eyes of voters) and prevents confusion around policy, as even if you don’t like it everyone knows what needs to be done.

It is not unknown however for Ministers to use other means to make their feelings known, whilst supporting something publicly, through an intermediary and into the media. for protecting our civil liberties and stopping the relentless incursion
of the state into the lives of individuals, you create a Big Society matched by big citizens.
This offers the potential to completely recast
the relationship between people and the state: citizens empowered; individual opportunity extended; communities coming together to make lives better. We believe that the combination of our ideas will help us to create a much stronger society: one where those who can, do; and those who cannot, we always help.

And in the crucial area of public service reform, we have found that Liberal Democrat and Conservative ideas are stronger combined. For example, in the NHS, take Conservative thinking on markets, choice and competition and add to it the Liberal Democrat belief in advancing democracy at a much more local level, and you have a united vision for the NHS that is truly radical: GPs with authority over commissioning; patients with much more control; elections for your local NHS health board. Together, our ideas will bring an emphatic end to the bureaucracy, top-down control and centralisation that has so diminished our NHS.

Three weeks ago we could never have predicted the publication of this document. After the election, of course, there was the option of minority government – but we were uninspired by it. Instead, there was the option of a coalition in the national interest – and we seized it. When we set off on this journey we were two parties with some policies in common and a shared desire to work in the national interest. We arrive at this programme for government a strong, progressive coalition inspired by the values of freedom, fairness and responsibility. This programme is for five years of partnership government driven by those values. We believe that it can deliver radical, reforming government, a stronger society, a smaller state, and power and responsibility in the hands of every citizen. Great change and real progress lie ahead.

David Cameron Prime Minister & Nick Clegg 
Deputy Prime Minister