Sociology Index


Ministerial responsibility is associated with Parliamentary systems of government. Ministerial responsibility is the convention that a minister is answerable to Parliament for the conduct and actions of his or her ministry's personnel. Originally, the ministerial responsibility was quite strictly imposed on a minister and resignation might be demanded even where the minister did not have knowledge of improper or negligent acts or omissions by officials.

Responsible Government and Ministerial Responsibility: Every Reform Is Its Own Problem - The article defends the classical version of ministerial responsibility against recent initiatives to implement a form of direct accountability for administrators. The pattern of resignations indicates the importance of collective responsibility, as well as the relative unimportance of ministerial misbehaviour.

The conclusion sets out the negative implications for democratic government of substituting a kind of direct "accountability" of officials, extracted in political forums, for the responsibility of ministers. - S. L. Sutherland, Canadian Journal of Political Science / Revue canadienne de science politique, Vol. 24, No. 1 (Mar., 1991) -

A Critical evaluation of Ministerial Responsibility in supervising Administrative decisions, M Kats.
With the proliferation of the bureaucracy, and the emerging importance of new administrative review procedures, ministerial responsibility has been accused of being left behind. The findings of several Senate Select Committees and Commissions, secondary material in which ministerial responsibility is relevant today, and criticisms of its strict hierarchy are no longer valid. Research has shown that ministerial responsibility is able to incorporate other bodies of review, and thus allow greater accountability to the public.

From Administrative State to Ministerial System: The Quest for Accountability in Hong Kong - Kwok R.
This paper argues that in the deliberations on ministerialisation, the local discourse has not sufficiently appreciated the complexities and uncertainties in both the theory and practice of ministerial responsibility. It highlights the mistake of concentrating on ministerial resignation as a mechanism for enforcing government accountability, and of overlooking explanatory accountability as a core tenet of the doctrine of ministerial responsibility. It argues for access to information legislation as a prerequisite for the meaningful discharge of ministerial responsibility.

UK Ministerial Responsibility in 2002: The Tale of Two Resignations - Diana Woodhouse
The resignations in 2002 of Stephen Byers and Estelle Morris (UK Secretaries of State for Transport and Education respectively) suggest the need to review the constitutional and political aspects of resignation.

Mechanisms of judicial accountability in British central government 
M Flinders, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.
The effectiveness of ministerial responsibility to Parliament as a sufficient check on the actions of ministers and officials is widely doubted. The utility of judicial forms of accountability and whether these mechanisms, to a greater or lesser extent, off-set the deficiencies commonly associated with the convention of ministerial responsibility. The final section concludes that judicial forms of accountability have not evolved to remedy the shortcomings commonly identified with ministerial responsibility to Parliament.