The main aspects of the role cabinet

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The Main aspects of the role of the cabinet

The main aspects of the role of the cabinet include:

  • Formal policy approval
  • Policy coordination
  • Resolve disputes
  • Forum for debate
  • Party management
  • Symbol of collective govt.
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Formal Policy Approval and Policy coordination

A role of the cabinet is to formally approve policy:

  • The cabinet must approve the policy decisions, for them to become official govt policy. 
  • However, there is no guarantee that major policy decisions will not be made by the PM, without consulting the Cabinet. 
  • E.g. In May 1997, Tony Blair decided to grant the Bank of England semi-independence in setting interest rates, with only consulting with Brown (the Chancellor). 

Another role of the cabinet is policy coordination:

  • This is a key role, which ensures that ministers are aware of the goings on in other departments. 
  • It helps to reconcile the responsibilities of ministers for their individual departments, with their responsibilities to the govt as a whole.
  • As a result, it helps to 'join up' govt at its most senior level. 
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Resolving disputes and a forum for debate

A role of the cabinet is to resolve disputes:

  • Differences between ministers and between departments are mostly resolved at a lower level. 
  • However, the cabinet serves as a final court of appeal for disagreements, that cannot be resolved elsewhere. 

In addition, the cabinet is a forum for debate:

  • The PM and other ministers can use the cabinet as a sounding board. 
  • They do this by raising issues and to stimulate discussion. 
  • Nevertheless, the time available for this is limited.
  • This is because cabinet agendas are full and are usually dominated by govt business.
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Party management and collective govt

Another role of the cabinet is party management:

  • This is where the cabinet takes the views and morals of the parliamentary party, into account, when it comes to policy.
  • This is the reason why the chief whip (currently Michael Gove) attend cabinet meetings, and is usually a full cabinet member. 

The Cabinet is a symbol of collective government:

  • The collective 'face' of govt is maintained by regular cabinet meetings.
  • This is because the PM reports in these meetings, and the approval of major policies takes place here. 
  • This is underpinned by the convention of collective ministerial responsibility. 
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