Sunday, 1 July 2007

The New Government

The full list of the new Government has been published, and is available at http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page12240.asp

There are three main levels of minister

Secretary of State - the most senior minister, usually a member of the Cabinet. Has overall responsibility for a Department

Minister of State - the second level of minister.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State - the most junior level of minister.

Most ministers are paid a salary - but Statute limits the number of paid ministerial positions, so a small number receive no pay

Ministers may be supported by a PPS (Parliamentary Private Secretary). This is an unpaid position - sometimes described as the 'ears and eyes of the Minister'. Their job is to communicate with other MPs and carry out other tasks for the Minister. It is often seen as a position where potential ministers are tried out - and if they prove to be good, paid appointment as a Minister may follow.

One of my favourite pieces of dialogue in 'Yes Minister' deals with positions within a Government Department.

James Hacker: Who else is in this department?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well briefly, Sir, I am the Permanent Under Secretary of State, known as the Permanent Secretary. Woolley here is your Principal Private Secretary, I too have a Principal Private Secretary and he is the Principal Private Secretary to the Permanent Secretary. Directly responsible to me are ten Deputy Secretaries, 87 Under Secretaries and 219 Assistant Secretaries. Directly responsible to the Principal Private Secretary are plain Private Secretaries, and the Prime Minister will be appointing two Parliamentary Under Secretaries and you will be appointing your own Parliamentary Private Secretary.
James Hacker: Do they all type?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No. Mrs. McKay types. She's the secretary."