Cabinet Ministers come and go over the years but if you notice one or two who seem out of their depth you’re not alone. So how did they get the job? Well it’s up to the Prime Minister to form his or her Cabinet from the collection of MPs (or indeed Lords) of his/her political party.
No qualifications or experience needed to be a cabinet minister! – see for yourself in the ICO response
Let’s put names to the numbers (and faces) above:
So what was the giveaway to us that they weren’t qualified?
Originally let’s just say “the clues were there” with news stories from 2010 onwards questioning the competence of “the quiet man” Iain Duncan Smith. Who could forget his “I’m turning up the volume” speech back when he was Tory leader. But in his role of DWP Minister his (cough) ‘talents’ are there for us all to see.
The next big clue was Helen Grant when she was Minister of Sport. She was given a little sports quiz with some questions which anyone connected with sport should have been able to answer – but not Ms Grant. In fact she failed to correctly answer any of the sports questions put to her. So when that happened, one of our friends put in a Freedom of Information request to find out what qualifications and experience Cabinet Ministers needed. Guess what? They had nothing on file! So the request went to the very helpful Information Commissioner’s Office who provided this statement on the subject:
Cabinet Minister Qualifications & Experience – ICO Response
Traditionally, the Prime Minister chooses Ministers from elected Members of the House of Commons (MPs). However, they may also choose Members from the House of Lords. Ministers are chosen from individuals who are members of the party of government (or, in the current case, the parties of government).
The Prime Minister may well choose someone who has no direct experience of the work covered by the department, for example, the minister for health is rarely a health professional. However, it is for the Prime Minister to determine what other qualities that person has to fulfil the role. It is also for the Prime Minister to determine whether that person continues to be suitable for the role. The minister themselves may offer their resignation if, for whatever reason, they do not feel able to continue in the ministerial role.
Ministers are regularly challenged in and out of Parliament (for example, in the media) to explain their actions but it remains the Prime Minister’s decision as to whether they are suitable for the
For your general information, here is a link to the UK Parliament website which might be helpful on this general topic:
Here also, for your general information, is a link showing ministers in the current Cabinet. The link provides biographical information but you may, of course, also wish to conduct your own online searches using their names to find biographical information from other independent online sources.
You may well question whether a particular minister is qualified for their ministerial role and you may make an assessment about the party of government and about the Prime Minister based on how well, in your view, their ministers perform. That is a matter for you (and for all of us as the UK electorate).
23 April 2014
Case Reference Number FS50535109
So there you have it – if you’re an elected MP or a Lord (not elected) and you fancy being a cabinet member, have a word with the Prime Minister – no experience or qualifications needed. Who knows – you may be the next Iain Duncan Smith or Helen Grant.
Additional information sourced from: