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

Reflections on the Speaker’s Digital Democracy Commission report

Wed, 18 Feb 2015 10:00:37 +0000

Cristina Leston-Bandeira looks back at a year spent considering the options for the use of digital in UK government. She highlights key lessons that emerged from the process and introduces the report published on 26 January 2015. Last month’s launch of the report of the Speaker’s Digital Democracy Commission (DDC) marks the end of an extraordinarily […]

Read more...

Enough is enough: Time to regulate prime ministerial appointments to the Lords

Tue, 10 Feb 2015 09:39:49 +0000

This week the Constitution Unit publishes a new report arguing that the time has come to regulate prime ministerial appointments to the House of Lords – to prevent the chamber’s size escalating further, and prevent government manipulating its membership. The report argues that, despite large-scale Lords reform being awaited, this step is urgent ahead of […]

Read more...

What would a minority government be like?

Thu, 08 Jan 2015 10:00:57 +0000

As the election approaches, Peter Riddell explores the very real prospect of a minority government and considers the challenges which would be likely to arise from such a scenario. Paul Goodman was right to argue on Conservative Home in November that a minority government may be more likely than a full-blown coalition if there is a hung parliament next […]

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