Role of the Cabinet Office
The Cabinet Office is at the heart of Government, providing services to Cabinet, the Premier and Ministers of the Government. The Cabinet Office also co-ordinates initiatives on cross cutting issues; and acts as the corporate headquarters for the Civil Service, providing services, advice and guidance for other government departments and by extension, to the wider public sector.
The Cabinet also consists of the Premier and at least six other members of the Legislature. The Governor appoints the majority leader in the House of Assembly as Premier, who in turn nominates the other members of Cabinet. They are assigned responsibilities for Government Departments and other business. The Cabinet is responsible to the Legislature.
The functions of the members of the Cabinet are: the final determination of policies, the supreme control of Government and the co-ordination of government departments. The exercise of these functions is vitally affected by the fact that the Cabinet is a group of party representatives, depending upon majority in the support in the House of Assembly. The Cabinet meets in private and its proceedings are confidential. Its members are bound by oath not to disclose information about its proceedings. Normally the Cabinet meets for a few hours once a week.
Ministerial responsibility refers both to the collective responsibility that Ministers share for government policy and actions and to Ministers’ individual responsibility to Parliament for their departments work. The doctrine of collective responsibility means that the Cabinet acts unanimously even when Cabinet Ministers do not all agree on a subject. The policy of departmental Ministers must be consistent with the policy of the Government as a whole.
Once the Government’s policy on a matter has been decided, each Minister is expected to support it or resign. On rare occasions, Ministers have been allowed free votes in Parliament on matters involving important issues of conscience.