• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent does ministerial responsibility ensure accountability to the government?

Extracts from this document...


CONSTITUTIONAL LAW Madiha T. Khan Q) To what extent does ministerial responsibility ensure accountability to the government? A) Accountability is the liability assumed by all those who exercise authority to account for the manner in which they have fulfilled responsibilities entrusted to them, a liability ultimately to the Canadian people owed by Parliament, by the government and thus, every government department and agency. It is the essence of any democratic form of government. One of the fundamental principals of a democratic society is that the government must be accountable to the people. Such accountability is usually exercised through Parliament. Every Minister is ultimately accountable for their portfolio to Parliament and therefore in turn responsible to the electorate. The realization of this responsibility is undertaken upon the assumption of office. There are two main types of ministerial responsibility: Collective and Individual. And each plays its part in helping to ensure accountability to the government. Collective ministerial responsibility means that members of the government must support agreed government policies or resign; and that if the government is defeated in the Commons on a motion of no confidence then all ministers must resign. This is the main convention guiding the operation of the Cabinet. ...read more.


This is a chief strain upon the operation of the convention of collective ministerial responsibility reducing the extent of accountability due to the government through this convention. Less collective decision making e.g. advisers and cabinet committees. The Westland crisis of 1986 came to a head because Michael Heseltine believed that the Cabinet should have had a fuller consideration on the options. A most recent example of resignation due to collective responsibility is of Robin Cook and others over the Iraq war, March 2003. Here the House of Commons leader disagreed with PM Tony Blaire decisions of supporting America in a war against Iraq and his disagreement with the otherwise collectively supported stance of government led him to resign. Individual ministerial responsibility can be divided into two sub-components. First a minister must answer to Parliament for any wrong doings that is done by their department while at the same time defend the actions of their department. These two elements combined ensure that Ministers are ultimately held accountable. This is especially held true when matters that are done properly under his instructions or in accordance with governmental policy. ...read more.


Similarly, it is quite difficult to hold responsible one particular minister for actions in a certain department as obviously, none would come forward with a confession or accept responsibility and blame. Thus in my opinion, being a convention, the concept of ministerial responsibility has become more of a formality rather than a regulation of magnitude. As seen from the stated examples, ministers are still publishing memoirs, revealing Cabinet discussions, which this convention wants to prevent. Relaxations of the rules have allowed PM to waive this convention when he feels the need arise. At the same time, the government feels that it is virtually impossible to hold one individual minister responsible for certain actions. Even though the violation of the convention does not bring legal sanctions, its breach can give rise to political sanctions. Thus the idea of a resignation or of political disrepute can play its role in persuasive answerability of ministers to the government. However, its attempts to provide a unified Parliament are successful where it compels ministers to support the government's stance and takes away those who do not support. Thus overall, even though some practices have taken away the power of this convention to control ministers, it does aim to provide an accountable and responsible Parliament, if abided by. __________________________________________________ ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Politics essays

  1. Was the Provisional Government fatally weakened from the first? Notes

    It is also the case that there were SRs and other and other non-Bolshevik revolutionaries in the Soviet who for some time had been demanding that the Petrograd Soviet supersede the PG. The rising itself was a confused, disorderly affair.

  2. Political accountability -Parliament and the courts

    An example of a statement made to Parliament was the Prime Minister's Statement on the US Terrorist Attacks.2 Statements and the responses that follow are useful for both the government as they are able to distribute information and for opposition MPs as their critical response is typically reported in the media.

  1. To what extent are senior British civil servants still “anonymous, permanent and politically neutral?” ...

    Due to the close relationship senior civil servants have with government ministers, and the considerable influence they can possess, it has traditionally seemed important that the civil service remains "anonymous, permanent and politically neutral." Politicians have the mandate of the electorate, whereas the civil service consists of unelected officials working closely with the government.

  2. Decentralization and development of modern local government systems in Eastern Europe

    Other authorities legitimized by parliamentary regulation must check supervisory powers and decisions of elected bodies. The detailed rules are different case by case, but the defense of the rights of self-government through such instruments seems to be a common development in this region.

  1. Malta at the turn of the 19th Century.

    High taxes and duty was made on grain. The people were not happy on these measures. Every government department was re-organised and put on strong basis. Maitland also sought to re-organise the medical and health sector. In other words he improved the services of the hospitals and of the Lazaretto.

  2. Thoughts on Trudeau’s Memoirs

    The opposite should also be true, with an Anglophone sending a memo to another Anglophone it should be in English and in French to a francophone public servant. I think that everyone working in the government should be able to speak both French and English, but I also realize that

  1. To what extent was ‘Inept Leadership’ responsible for the failure of Chartism?

    It is evident that the interrelationship of these factors with the strength of the government, thanks to stability provided by the great Reform Act 1832, is of great importance. The responsibility of the handling of Chartism by the government in the movement's downfall cannot be underestimated.


    His relationship with Andrew Bonar Law was vital in helping him to ride out the storm. Bonar Law was known as the 'lynch -pin' of the coalition. Baldwin believed that LG and Bonar Law formed 'the most perfect relationship in political history'.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work