Functions of Cabinet

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  • Functions of the Cabinet
    • Registering decisions
      • Ratify and acknowledge the decisions made in bilateral and committee meetings
      • The ability to do this is limited as there are few cabinet meetings and ministers often don't have time to study other departments
      • Decision are undertaken by smaller groups of advisers and ministers who have more expertise
    • Discussing and making decision
      • More true when: issues are especially important or sensitive, major/unexpected developments need a quick decision or gov deps and committees have been unable to agree
        • Ken Clarke served under Thatcher, Major and Cameron- he said that it was in decline, Cameron used dep rep over discussion
        • The PM makes the ultimate decision, so the Cabinet advises them. Although discussion has declined there are dep reports instead
        • No longer have as much discussions they used to (like for EEC, said by Ken Clarke)
    • Reports on issues
      • Cabinet hears reports on parliamentary business, economic and home affairs, and foreign affairs. These aren't particularly debated, just reported
        • The leaders of the House of Commons and the House of Lords report on the parliamentary agenda for that week, reflecting a formal role of the cabinet
      • Due to limited time, these reports are rarely debated, with the occasional addition of a personal/departmental view
      • Ministers do get to find out the official government view on certain matters, and get the opportunity to clarify things and ask questions, while not taking too much time
    • Settling dispute
      • If a problem can't be settle through committees or meeting it will  go to the cabinet to be resolved
        • 1985 Westland Affair caused Hesteltine to resign when Thatcher refused to let the cabinet decide on a decision made by a committee on a defence contract
      • The cabinet allows for binding decisions to be considered, debated and settled- stopping the PM being dictatorial
      • Sometimes the PM won't allow things to be settled/brought to cabinet- causing further tension that they try to avoid


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