Pre-University (CIE) Comparative Government: Specimen Questions with Answers 52 - 52 of 53

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Question 52


Describe in Detail


“The cabinet in England is the steering wheel of the ship of the state” . Discuss.


  • The cabinet in England is the real executive. It is the cabinet which exercises the vast and growing powers of the crown, which has become a supreme directing authority and has come to be called a pivot of the whole political machinery. The British cabinet is the product of a long historical growth.
  • To begin with, it was a part and parcel of the privee council, members of which were chosen at the discretion of the king with the passage of the time the number of the membership of the privee council increased to such a large extent that it become difficult and inconvenient to hold meetings and take decisions. Consequently the kings begin to consult those few councilors who happened to be their favorites.
  • The exact date at which this practice originated isn՚t known, however by 1688 the cabinet system as it is understood today, had not acquired definite shape and form. The Glorious Revolution Of 1688 and the act of settlement of 1701, cleared the way for the establishment of parliamentary supremacy and smoothened the growth of the cabinet system.
  • The cabinet of 1697 popularly known as Sunderland՚s Junta, is regarded as the real beginning of the cabinet system. It was constituted on the principle that all the members should be drawn from the dominant party in parliament. Queen Anne carried a cabinet system a stage further when she kept the Whig ministers in office in spite of her personal sympathies for the Tories. Thus the first principle of the cabinet system i.e.. that is the minister be drawn from the majority party in the parliament, was evolved. The Walpole՚s administration can be credited for evolving essential characteristics of the cabinet system that we even see today. He moulded the cabinet system into the form which it retains today.
  • During the 19th century, the cabinet system became more crystallized. Now it was established that the ministers must be members of the parliament that they must have majority in the House of Commons that they should belong to the same party and work under the leadership of the Prime Minister.
  • In the 20th century the practice that Prime Minister should belong to the House of Commons became an established fact. The ministers of the crown act 1937, gave a legal sanction to the institution of the cabinet system. Today cabinet is the pivot of the British administration. Its authority is onerous and powers enormous. It is the key tone of the constitutional arch. The cabinet is primarily a deliberative and policy formulating body.
  • The cabinet takes the decision on the particular national or international problem and once the decision has been taken all the members of the cabinet are expected to abide by it, irrespective of their personal likes and dislikes. The cabinet ministers guide and control the work of parliament. They formulate, introduce, explain and urge the adoption of legislative measures upon all manners of subjects. In 20th century, the cabinet has come to possess delegated legislative authority and administrative adjudicatory as well.
  • The cabinet is the supreme national executive. Legally all the executive powers wests in the king, but in practice it is the cabinet which really exercises all the executive powers wasted in the king who is only the titular head of the state.
  • The appointments to the offices of ambassadors, high commissioners, governors etc. are made upon the advice of the cabinet. The decisions regarding the imposition of taxes, abolishing or reducing the old ones are taken in the cabinet which means the determination of finances is controlled the cabinet. Evidently the cabinet is the Government of the Great Britain.

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