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Cabinet committees

5.6 Cabinet committees provide the forum for detailed consideration and discussion of issues before their reference to Cabinet, with officials available to assist Ministers if the committee wishes. Almost all matters are considered first by one or more Cabinet committees. Exceptions to this rule are proposals for and reports on overseas travel by Ministers.

5.7 Cabinet committees are usually established either around a subject area, such as social policy, or around a function across the broad front of government activity, such as expenditure and administration.

5.8Cabinet committees derive their powers from Cabinet. All Cabinet committee decisions are reported to Cabinet for confirmation, and Cabinet retains the ultimate power of decision. Cabinet committee decisions may not be acted on until they have been confirmed (or amended) by Cabinet (except as set out in paragraph 5.9). Cabinet considers all committee decisions and frequently amends a committee decision or asks a committee to consider a matter further.

5.9 Occasionally, Cabinet or the Prime Minister will authorise a Cabinet committee or specified Ministers to have “power to act” (that is, power to take a final decision) on a clearly defined item. Where a committee or specified Ministers take a decision under power to act, the decision can be acted on immediately. Approval for power to act is usually sought by way of an oral item at Cabinet (see paragraphs 5.51 – 5.53). Decisions taken by a Cabinet committee under power to act are reported to Cabinet in the usual way. When authorising the taking of decisions by a specified group of Ministers under power to act, Cabinet may request that the Ministers report back to Cabinet.

5.10 The Prime Minister determines the structure of Cabinet committees and the membership, chair, and terms of reference of each Cabinet committee, taking into account practical and political considerations. Information on the current membership and terms of reference of Cabinet committees is available on the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet's website.

Last updated: 
Saturday, 24 June 2017

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