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Flashcards in Prime Minister and Executive Deck (84)
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What is the executive?

The branch of government that implements policy


What does the executive comprise of?

Prime ministers, cabinet ministers (senior ministers), ministers (junior ministers) and government departments


What are cabinet committees?

A committee comprising of several cabinet ministers responsible for a policy area


What are the role of the executive? Elaborate. (3)

1. Policy decision-making (setting the legislative agenda and political direction, making day-to-day decisions over policy)
2. Proposing legislation (carrying out manifest promises, drafting and initiating legislation, secondary legislation)
3. Proposing budget (Chancellor devises a budget specifying government spending and taxation after discussions with other cabinet ministers)


What are the powers of the executive? (3)

1. Prerogative
2. Secondary legislation
3. Control of legislative agenda


What is a prerogative power?

A power exercised by the monarch or prime minister without the requirement of parliamentary approval


What are three prerogative powers that the executive has?

1. Ratifying treaties
2. International diplomacy
3. Deploying armed forces overseas


How has the prerogative to deploy armed forces overseas changed?

David Cameron sought the opinion of Parliament on the issue of air strikes against Syria in 2013, setting a precedence to consult Parliament on such issues. Parliament voted against air strikes in 2013 but later voted in favour for it in 2015.


How does the executive have power over secondary legislation?

Secondary legislation is delegated to the executive and often goes undebated and unchallenged


How many statutory instruments are issued a year?

Over 3500


How does the executive control the legislative agenda? (4)

1. Control the legislative timetable (can decide the topic and duration of debate)
2. Government bills often succeed due to a parliamentary majority and imposition of party discipline
3. Private Members' Bills often fail if they do not have government support
4. Executive initiates most bills


What are the requirements to be a prime minister? (3)

1. Elected as an MP
2. Leader of governing party
3. Command a majority in votes of confidence


What are the roles of the prime minister? Expand. (8)

1. National leadership (communicator-in-chief for government, leader in times of crisis)
2. Political leadership (shapes the political agenda, direction and strategy, policy-making input)
3. Head of cabinet (chairing cabinet meetings, holding bilateral meetings with ministers, creating cabinet committees)
4. International affairs (representing the UK on the world stage)
5. Managing relations with Parliament (answering questions and making statements in HoC, setting the legislative agenda)
6. Managing the executive (commands the civil service, in charge of overall organisation of the government)
7. Appointing cabinet ministers (can appoint, dismiss, or reshuffle positions of cabinet ministers anytime)
8. Prerogative (deploying armed forces overseas, recommending public appointments)


What are the powers of the prime minister? (6)

1. Patronage
2. Authority in cabinet
3. Appointing cabinet ministers
4. Party leadership
5. Public standing
6. Policy-making input*


What is the power of patronage (PM)? (2)

1. Life peers (PM can make political nominations for life peers)
2. Honours (PM simply accepts list of recommendations and cannot veto)


Is the power of patronage (PM) fair? (2 + 2)

- Independent HoL Appointments Commission makes non-political appointments for life peers + approves nominations by PM -> PM does not have total control over life peer appointments + prevents bribery (eg. Loans for Peerages scandal where several donors to the Labour party were found to have been nominated for life peerages) + ensures that range of expertise is reflected in HoL
- PM cannot personally make recommendations for honours (honours are now nominated by independent committees, who ensure that nominees who have made political donations are honoured solely based on merit)-> prevents issue of bribery for wealthy donors (eg. Cash for Honours scandal where donors to Labour party were found to be rewarded with honours)

- PM can skew the party balance in HoL by appointing a large number of government life peers (eg. Tony Blair appointed over 160 Labour life peers, almost half of all life peers he appointed)
- PM may appoint life peers based on connections rather than individual merits (eg. Tony Blair accused of cronyism when he appointed life peerages to numerous friends)


What is the power of authority in the cabinet (PM)? (5)

1. Chair cabinet meetings (steers discussion)
2. Decide frequency and duration of cabinet meetings
3. Determines agenda of cabinet (creating cabinet committees, deciding issues discussed in cabinet)
4. Hold bilateral meetings with ministers
5. Appoints senior civil servants


Is the power of authority in the cabinet fair (PM)? (3 + 1)

- allows PM to drive forward their agenda
- ensures cohesion of government policy (cabinet committees work together)
- acts as a broker on disputed issues (bilateral meetings keep issue away from involving the whole cabinet)

- PM may tactfully ensure that their favoured position prevails (determining cabinet agenda, appointing loyal senior civil servants, ignoring cabinet) HOWEVER keeping certain issues out of the cabinet agenda can work against the PM (eg. Thatcher was confronted about government policy regarding the ERM systems after trying to keep the issue away from her cabinet)


What is the power to appoint cabinet ministers (PM)?

PM can appoint, dismiss and reshuffle positions of cabinet ministers at any time


Is the power to appoint cabinet ministers (PM) fair? (2 + 3)

- meritocracy + accountability (underperforming ministers can be demoted and competent ones promoted)
- allows PM to have a cabinet that can work alongside her to deliver manifesto promises

- cabinet ministers may support PM out of fear of being demoted
- PM may appoint a wholly supportive cabinet (no challenging/opposition -> no scrutiny) HOWEVER PM's usually appoint a diverse cabinet (eg. Theresa May's first cabinet had mostly Remain supporters but assigned Leave supporters to main Brexit roles - Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, David Davis as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, and Liam Fox as International Trade Secretary)
- PM may appoint cabinet ministers based on personal connections rather than individual merits (eg.


What is the power of policy-making input (PM)? (2)

- PM can legislate on any subject matter of their choosing
- sets objectives, directs and coordinated foreign and economic policy


Is the power of policy-making input (PM) fair? (2 + 1)

- PM is able to shape policy under own vision and agenda
- decisions by PM requires support of cabinet

- PM is not directly elected yet has large influence on policies


What is the power of party leadership (PM)?

PM commands a majority (usually) in the HoC


Is the power of party leadership (PM) fair? (2 + 1)

- elected as party leader by party members (legitimate) HOWEVER this may not always be the case (eg. Gordon Brown became PM through his Granita Pac with Blair, hence without winning an election or leadership contest)
- party support is not unconditional (eg. Thatcher was forced to resign after losing a leadership contest in 1990)

- backbench rebellions are more frequent (party may disagree with PM however rebellions may not have any influence)


What is the power of public standing (PM)? (2)

1. PM is communicator-in-chief for government
2. PM represents UK in international affairs


Is the power of public standing (PM) fair? (2 + 2)

- PM strongly influences political agenda, this should be able to express this articulately
- PM is the predominant political figure in the UK, hence should be the one representing the UK internationally

- PM may endorse personal view rather than view of cabinet (eg. David Cameron endorsing Remain during EU referendum)
- PM may not have the greatest expertise on subject matter


What is collective ministerial responsibility?

The principle that ministers must support all cabinet decisions (even if they disagree with it personally) or resign


What are the 3 elements of collective ministerial responsibility?

1. Secrecy - all cabinet discussions are held in secret so as to prevent sensitive information from being leaked and personal disagreements from being revealed
2. Binding decisions - once a decision by the cabinet has been made, it is binding and ministers must adhere to it
3. Confidence vote - all ministers must resign if the government loses a vote of no confidence


What are some exceptions to CMR? (3)

1. Referendums
2. Free votes
3. Coalition


What does it mean when there is an exception to collective ministerial responsibility?

The PM has formally suspended the principle of CMR after coming to an agreement with the cabinet