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Comparing Westminster$
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R. A. W. Rhodes, John Wanna, and Patrick Weller

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199563494

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199563494.001.0001

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Ministerial Responsibility

Ministerial Responsibility

(p.116) 5 Ministerial Responsibility
Comparing Westminster

R. A. W. Rhodes (Contributor Webpage)

John Wanna (Contributor Webpage)

Patrick Weller (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines how elite political actors are held to account. It examines collective responsibility, individual ministerial responsibility, and their personal accountability for actions not directly related to their duties as ministers. Governments confronted the dilemmas posed by the arrival of ‘responsible party government’. The constitutional conventions creaked under the impact of party self-interest. The shared responses to improvise to meet whatever political exigencies confronted the government. So, notions of cabinet solidarity were relaxed to accommodate dissent, ministerial resignations became prime ministerial tactical calculations of political dispensability, and prime ministers found other ways to renew their ministries to ensure turnover. However, such improvization prompted outrage, and calls for a return to responsible government. So, governments sought refuge in new codes. Today, we still operate with ‘heroic’ notions of ministers, yet they are embedded in a web of accountabilities, constantly negotiating their way through overlapping and multiple demands.

Keywords:   ministerial responsibility, collective responsibility, personal accountability, party government, responsible government, web of accountabilities, Codes of Conduct, Guidelines for Practice

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