Skip to site navigation

Ministers Outside Parliament

May - November 2010

Goats

This project is kindly funded by a private donor

» Read the final report: Putting Goats amongst the Wolves - Appointing Ministers from outside Parliament Ben Yong and Robert Hazell (January 2011)

Background

There has been debate recently about the appointment of ministers from outside Parliament.  Gordon Brown has appointed eight such ministers (the ‘Goats’), and put them in the House of Lords.  Not all have been successful.  In evidence to the Public Administration Select Committee Sir John Major raised the possibility of the appointment of non-parliamentary ministers: ‘A prime minister could appoint a small number of unelected ministers of state, who would be answerable to Parliament without being members of either House’ (Times 13 June 2009).  There has also been discussion about how two Cabinet Ministers in the Lords, Lord Mandelson and Lord Adonis, might become accountable to the House of Commons.

Research Questions

This raises a number of different questions about the arguments for and against having ministers from outside Parliament, their accountability, and the lessons to be learnt from overseas.

The case for ministers from outside Parliament

  • What are the main arguments for having ministers from outside Parliament?
  • Why are people making these arguments now?
  • How many Goats have been appointed since 1970?
  • What were their skills and experience?  Are there any patterns?
  • Have they been appointed because of their specific expertise; loyalty to the PM; to add lustre; or for other reasons?
  • How long did they last?  How successful have they been?  


Accountability of ministers to Parliament

  • How could Ministers from outside Parliament be made accountable to Parliament?
  • How can Lords ministers be more accountable to the Commons?
  • Should all ministers be accountable to both Houses?  What are the detailed rules of reciprocity in parliaments where this happens?

Comparator countries

We will look at two broad groups of countries:

  • Westminster parliaments.  The South African Constitution provides that the President may select no more than two ministers from outside the Assembly – these ministers have the same relationship with parliament as other Cabinet ministers.  We will look for other exceptions in Australia, Canada, NZ, India, Ireland; but the Westminster tradition is for ministers to be drawn from Parliament.
  • European parliaments.  We will look for models where ministers can be drawn from outside parliament (Germany, Italy); and at models where ministers are required to leave parliament when appointed to the government (France, Netherlands).

Parliament Homepage

NEWS


Read more Unit News here >

BLOG

The new opposition: How will SNP MPs influence Westminster politics?

Mon, 01 Jun 2015 10:59:53 +0000

Louise Thompson argues that the constitutional challenges we will see over the next 5 years will be a product of the changed composition of Parliament. Here, she specifically considers how SNP are likely to try and amend proposed constitutional reforms announced in the Queen’s Speech last week. We are only a couple of weeks in to the 2015 […]

Read more...

What the Queen said – and what she didn’t say

Thu, 28 May 2015 12:35:34 +0000

Following yesterday’s Queen’s Speech, Robert Hazell considers the constitutional issues that featured, as well as those which were notable in their absence. There were few surprises in the Queen’s Speech announcing the new government’s legislative programme. Like his admired predecessor Tony Blair, David Cameron knows that the public have little interest in constitutional issues, so […]

Read more...

Routes to EVEL: The challenges facing Chris Grayling in introducing English votes on English laws

Tue, 26 May 2015 10:15:42 +0000

With the Queen’s Speech due tomorrow, we continue our series of blogs about devolution and its consequences, drawing on the Unit’s latest report Devolution and the Future of the Union. Here Robert Hazell analyses the commitment to English votes on English laws, looking first at its history, and then at its prospects. Cynics might assume […]

Read more...
Meg Russell's new book, The Contemporary House of Lords:
Lords book cover - png file

Projects 

CONSULTANCY

The Constitution Unit

Page last modified on 27 jan 11 16:42

Footer menu