Assess the current importance of the cabinet

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(c) Assess the current importance of the cabinet. (25 marks)
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The British cabinet is at the centre of the political system and so it must be considered to be
extremely important. It makes government policy and ensures that it will be implemented by
Parliament. Cabinet is chaired by the prime minister and together they completely dominate politics.
This essay will explain its importance and show that it does, nevertheless, have some weaknesses.
All policies have to pass through the cabinet, having been proposed by the prime minister. Once they
are discussed and voted upon they become the policy of the whole government. This places the
cabinet at the centre of the political system. The cabinet also deals with a crisis, such as the credit
crunch. Other functions and powers of the cabinet are to resolve disputes between government
departments and to guide policies through Parliament, deciding which ministers will speak in
debates. When an individual minister and his department present a policy, they must place it before
the cabinet for their approval.
The cabinet does have some weaknesses. It does not meet very often and most ministers do not
have enough time or expertise to be able to consider technical policies properly. It can also be
dominated by the prime minister, who is its chairman and who can dismiss ministers who do not
agree with his policies. There are also many private advisers today who make policy instead of
cabinet making policy. The prime minister and these advisers together are sometimes known as a
`kitchen cabinet' because Harold Wilson, prime minister in the 1960s, used to meet in the kitchen of
10 Downing Street and make policy. So it would be wrong to say the cabinet has complete power
because there are limits and weaknesses, but it is still at the centre.
My assessment of cabinet's importance, therefore, is that it does have some weaknesses, but it is
very much the centre of the whole system.

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