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What is the Cabinet?

The Cabinet is the name given to the most senior members of government known as Government Ministers. They shape policies and are responsible for what the Government wants to achieve.

Members of the Cabinet are selected by the Prime Minister and not all Ministers attend. Although they could be selected from anywhere members are usually from the House of Commons (MP’s) as it is the elected body, with some from the House of Lords (Peers).

Every Tuesday during Parliament, members of the Cabinet meet to discuss the most important issues for the Government.

The number of Cabinet Ministers can vary greatly depending on the preference of the PM of the day. The majority of people who form the members of the Cabinet are those who lead major Government Departments as ‘Secretary of States’. This includes Education, Defence, Foreign Affairs, Transport, Work and Pensions and Health.

The Deputy Prime Minister, a relatively recent role, and Leader of the House of Lords also attends as do the Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

There are others such as the Attorney General who also attends Cabinet meetings when the nature of the subjects being discussed require them to be there.

It is possible to appoint someone to the Cabinet who does not have a specific department that they look after. These posts are known as a ‘Minister without portfolio’.

The Cabinet Secretary is a very senior position in the Civil Service. This is not a political role and they work with the Prime Minister to decide and administer what will be discussed at the weekly Cabinet meetings.

The Cabinet Office, headed by a Minister, works to keep all the different parts of Government policy in tune and working together.

Find out more about Cabinet Government and the British Cabinet in action through these recommended reads: (paid links)