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The Prime Ministers' CraftWhy Some Succeed and Others Fail in Westminster Systems$
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Patrick Weller

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199646203

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199646203.001.0001

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Prime Ministers and their Ministers

Prime Ministers and their Ministers

(p.112) 5 Prime Ministers and their Ministers
The Prime Ministers' Craft

Patrick Weller

Oxford University Press

Ministers have both been described as the prime ministers’ agents, unable to take substantive initiatives without their approval, and as the real drivers and masters in Westminster governments. This chapter explores the relationship between prime ministers and their ministers. It identifies the range of interpretations of the concept of ministerial responsibility, examines the authority of prime ministers to appoint and sack ministers, and the real limitations on their powers. It identifies the importance of the relationship with ministers of finance/chancellors. It shows how prime ministers use the levers available to influence ministerial decisions, including charter letters, administrative management, and, when prime ministers are either frustrated or personally interested, actually taking the lead in a policy area. To be effective prime ministers need to balance selected involvement with trusted delegation.

Keywords:   Prime ministers, ministers, ministerial responsibility, centralization, delegation

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