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The Dictator
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#1
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http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-a...ys-government/

There are 33 cabinet positions. There are quite a few that are frankly absurd. For example, why do we need an Environment Secretary, a Secretary for Sports and Culture, or an Energy Secretary, or a Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster?? (The most absurd one, the Queen should pay for her own accountant, not taxpayers).
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Rakas21
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#2
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I agree, we should merge departments and limit the number of cabinet ministers.
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nulli tertius
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(Original post by The Dictator)
http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-a...ys-government/

There are 33 cabinet positions. There are quite a few that are frankly absurd. For example, why do we need an Environment Secretary, a Secretary for Sports and Culture, or an Energy Secretary, or a Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster?? (The most absurd one, the Queen should pay for her own accountant, not taxpayers).
You are making some valid and some irrelevant points.

The largely sinecure offices, Lord President of the Council, Lord Privy Seal, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Paymaster General exist so that ministers can be appointed to fulfil special roles and be paid a salary without having to "create" the real jobs that they do.

Accordingly Nick Clegg's salary is paid as Lord President of the Council because here is no such job as Deputy Prime Minister. Likewise the Lord Privy Seal is really the Leader of the House of Lords.

There are too many cabinet ministers. The problem started under Labour. It has got worse under the coalition. There are a variety of reasons. Cameron tends to want the senior Tory in a department to be attending cabinet even where the head of the department is a liberal. Both the previous and the present government want women in cabinet for the tele but without giving them actual jobs to do. There is "grade inflation". If you see someone else in the cabinet who is less important than you are, you want to be in the cabinet as well and may not be willing to be a minister unless you are in the cabinet.

Some jobs have, over time, become less important, but for political reasons have not been demoted from the cabinet.

The current Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is not the old Environment Department. It is really the old Ministry of Agriculture plus things to do with nature conservation. In a sane world, agriculture would just be another type of business under the wing of BIS. However, agriculture means so much to the EU that it needs a cabinet minister and since EU subsidies are now linked to environmental protection, that is why that has been lumped in with farming.

Energy doesn't really need a cabinet minister. This is a post the government creates when it worries about energy, so it was created in the 1970s, abolished in the 1980s and recreated in the 2000s. It is neither politically important, financially important, nor does it control a lot of civil servants.

The only problem with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport is its name. John Major invented it as the Department for National Heritage. It brought together a lot of government functions that didn't really belong with the departments that were in charge of them. The Home Office was responsible for newspapers when it should have been concerned with the police. The Department for Education was responsible for professional football when it ought to have been thinking about schools.

Since devolution, we don't need separate Secretaries of State for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. When Northern Ireland was devolved between 1922-1972, there was no UK cabinet minister responsible for it.These departments are hard to staff and under-worked. You could have one cabinet minister dealing with all three who also takes on the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man (currently the responsibility of the Lord Chancellor).

The reason the Higher Education minister attends cabinet is because it is in the wrong department. It sits with Business Innovation and Skills (the old Department for Trade and Industry) but common sense says it belongs with Education. There is a big budget and BIS doesn't want to lose control of that budget.

Why on earth does the Minister for Portsmouth attend cabinet? Why is there a Minister for Portsmouth? There is no Minister for Mansfield or Minister for Preston.

The Prime Minister's bag carriers didn't used to attend cabinet. Now two, Oliver Letwin, and Francis Maude do so as does Clegg's bag carrier David Laws.
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gladders
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#4
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I endorse nulli tertius' sensible post. I won't speak on whether the Cabinet is bloated or not, as 33 for managing a country of between 60 and 70 million people doesn't seem to bad, but I am concerned less with the inner Cabinet and more with the PPSes and other ancilliary roles that exist. They used to be purely informal and office-holders had no compulsion to remain loyal, but recent governments have taken to use it as a 'payroll vote' to exercise influence in Parliament.

As for a minister for the devolved regions, I have heard of that before but it seems to never get anywhere, I think because the devolved regions object to having one. Wales, for example, may fear that their voice would be drowned out compared to the noise that Scotland or Northern Ireland make.

Also, it highlights the unanswered question of the purpose of the NI/S/W ministers - are they speaking for the Cabinet in the devolved regions, or speaking for the devolved regions in the Cabinet? Or both?
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Rakas21
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#5
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Personally I'd but the devolved regions under the SOS for Local government and just rename the department.
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