Ministerial ResponsibilityThe Politics Association
Introduction Idea is central to the democraticprocess. Provides citizens with notions ofaccountability. Incompetence, or major errors ofjudgement, ministers should resign.
Personal Responsibility Where the minister is responsible forhis/her personal conductMust obey therule of lawAct inaccordancewith anunwritten‘moral’ codeMust obey therules andconventions ofParliamentFollow rules ofconduct forbusiness andfinancial dealings
Personal ResponsibilityMust obey therule of lawMust obey therules andconventions ofParliamentAct inaccordancewith anunwritten‘moral’ codeFollow rules ofconduct forbusiness andfinancial dealings
Role Responsibility Where the minister is responsible for4 key areas -Policyleadership inDepartmentPiloting oflegislation inParliamentManagementofDepartmentRepresentdepartmentalinterests
Problems withMinisterial Responsibility Not always seen to work. Problems (and the need for blame)sometimes arrives after theministers/civil servants have movedon or retired. Ministers who keep the support ofthe PM are rarely threatened orchallenged.
Problems withMinisterial ResponsibilityCase StudyScott Report – 1996 Ministers condemned for theirconduct in the ‘Arms to Iraq’ affair. Ministers acted in secret/breach ofofficial policy. No ministers or civil servants sackedor resigned – some promoted!
When should Ministersresign?Research by Pyper (1992-)Five paths to resignation:1. Changes (reshuffles by PM)2. Electoral defeat of Minister3. ‘Personal’ reasons4. Issue of collective responsibility5. Issue of individual responsibility
Resignations – 7 cases Lord Carrington – 1982 Falklands War – should have seen itcoming. RESIGNED
Edwina Currie – 1988 Said most eggs were poisoned. Resigned.
1993 – Michael Mates Dodgy gifts from Asian businessman RESIGNED
Tim Smith – 1994 Backhanders from Muhammed AlFayed RESIGNED
David Willets – 1996 Activities as Whip not in keepingwith his position. RESIGNED
Ron Davies – 1998 Cruising on Clapham Common RESIGNED
Estelle Morris – 2002 Shambles over A Levels RESIGNED
Stephen Byers Railways in chaos, advisers out ofcontrol RESIGNED
David Blunkett – 2004 Nanny passport fast-tracked RESIGNED