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2010 | 2(97) | 117-138

Article title

THE PRINCIPLE OF INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY OF A MEMBER OF GOVERNMENT IN THE UNITED KINGDOM (Zasada indywidualnej odpowiedzialnosci politycznej czlonków rzadu Wielkiej Brytanii)


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Individual ministerial responsibility to Parliament, together with the principle of collective responsibility of government, creates the concept of responsible government being the foundation of the system of government in the UK. Political responsibility of ministers is regulated by a constitutional convention which specifies the circumstances in which a minister should resign taking responsibility for the mismanagement of his/her department. The scope and form of ministerial responsibility to Parliament is diversified: their responsibility is unconditional as regards the requirement to inform and explain, and to take remedial steps. Resignation is, however, expected when responsibility for irregularities, failure to act or mistakes may be ascribed to a particular minister. In the recent years, the principle of individual ministerial responsibility has considerably evolved. The most important change was the introduction of a distinction between political and administrative issues. For political issues a minister bears full responsibility, while in case of administrative issues his/her responsibility is limited and does not include the obligation to resign. This distinction has been reflected in the doctrine, by the proposal of separation of the notions of responsibility and accountability to define various aspects of ministerial responsibility to Parliament. Due to the lack of precise norms regulating particularly the question of ministerial resignation and Parliament's incapability to effectively enforce ministerial requirement to account, the principle is sometimes considered ineffective. However, it is still the basic principle of the British system of government that underlies mutual relations between the Government and Parliament.





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  • Tomasz Wieciech, Uniwersytet Jagiellonski, Instytut Nauk Politycznych i Stosunków Miedzynarodowych, ul. Jablonowskich 5, 31-114 Kraków, Poland


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Publication order reference


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