This article explains in detail the powers and functions of the British Prime Minister.

Powers and Functions of British Prime Minister

Below are the powers and functions of the British Prime Minister:

He is the Supervisors of the Government and co-ordinates different Departments

The Prime Minister acts as the general supervisor of the government and coordinates of various departments. He/She sees to it that there is no difference among the ministers and if a matter comes up to see that it is peacefully settled. The Prime Minister is free to hold the charge of any department but in addition to keeping an eye on his/her respective charge, he/she acts as the director and supervisors of all departments, in order to keep the machinery of the government going well.

Responsible for International Affairs

The Prime Ministers perform important functions in the International sphere. Either personally or through his/her nominee, he/she attends conferences. It is the Prime Minister who makes the authoritative pronouncement of his/her government, policy in international matters, the conclusion of peace, negotiation of treaties, prosecution of the war, or demand expression of approval from the statements of the Prime Minister. Any major event taking place in any part of the world calls for the reactions of the British Prime Minister.

Prime Minister is the leader of the nation. During times of national crisis, he/she may personally act or give immediate authority to the ministers to do the needful for facing the problems.

He is the Medium of Communication between Monarch and the Ministers

The Prime Minister is the channel of communication between the Monarch and the ministers. If the Monarch wants to know anything about the policy of the cabinet, the Prime Minister gives necessary information to her. There can be no communication between the Monarch and the Ministers without the consent of the Prime Ministers. The Prime Minister becomes the link between the sovereign and the cabinet interpreting the opinions and decisions of one to the other.

Link Between the Parliament and the Ministers

The Prime Minister is the link between the Parliament and the Ministers. He/She is the leader of the house of commons. But sometimes he/she may transmit some of the power to his/her most trusted deputy. In Consultation with the cabinet ministers, the Prime Minister decides the time of the session of the parliament, prepares the inaugural address of the Monarch, decides about the time of adjournment and prorogation. He/she ask his/her ministers to move a bill in the parliament present budget or money bill. When the opposition launches a major offensive against the government, the Prime Minister intervenes to give a satisfactory explanation.

Backbone or Architect of the Government

The Prime Minister is the architect of his/her government. The Monarch invites the leader of the majority party in the House of Commons to form the government. Under the leadership of the Prime Minister there are different grades of the members of the ministry:

Firstly, there is the Inner Cabinet, consisting of 4-5 ministers. They are the most trusted people of the Prime Minister.

Secondly, there are the Cabinet Ministers consisting of about 20 senior ministers. They are very important ministers and they hold the charge of important departments.

Thirdly, there are the ministers of cabinet rank, they are junior to the cabinet ministers. They are not allowed to sit in cabinet meetings until so desired by the Prime Minister.

Fourthly, there are ministers of state or deputy ministers. A minister of state may either hold independent charge of some less important department or be associated with some important ministers.

Lastly, there are parliamentary secretaries or junior ministers associated with the ministers. They have no independent charge of a department and as such have no ministerial powers. The main work of a parliamentary secretary is to assist a minister in his/her work relating to the parliament as answering questions and taking part in parliamentary debates.

The British Prime Minister is Neither a President Nor A Dictator

There is a talk about the decline of parliamentary government and the rise of a presidential Prime Minister. It is worth examining the two systems to see whether the parliamentary government can be transferred into a Quasi Presidential government.

What makes one think that the English Prime Minister has become like a President?

The reasons that make the British Prime Minister like a President are due to the following reasons:

  1. The Prime Minister has become the deputy of the nation as a whole irrespective of the fact that he/she is chosen by a particular constituency. The general election is now an election of the Prime Minister.
  2. The prime Minister depending upon the force of electoral mandate feels quite free in the selections of the colleagues. He/She comes to have a strong position whereby she/he effectively controls the party without being restained by it.
  3. The power of patronage had enabled the Prime Minister to act as the master not only of the cabinet but of the administration as a whole.
  4. The Monarch is the fountainhead of honor, but all honors can be awarded by him/her only after the Prime Minister’s recommendation.
  5. The Prime Minister can advance the careers of those he/she favors and check those he/she dislikes according to the position given to them.
  6. The Prime Minister is not only the controller of the party as well as the government but has also become the real controllers of the army of civil servants. He/she is free to survey over the whole range of government activities and intervene when he/she so chooses.
  7. He/she has control over the secretariat and the entire network of administration. The Prime Minister is the controller of the parliament. His/Her will becomes a law and as much as the official’s bill is carried through the house of commons, it cannot be obstructed by the house of lords and the royal assent is a matter of constitutional formality.

Conclusion

There is no judicial check on the Prime Minister as the courts have no power of judicial review. However, the Prime Minister being dubbed as the president much less an autocrat is not true. The strong position of the cabinet gives rise to the strong position of the Prime Minister. What the Prime Minister becomes is subject to what the cabinet allows him/her to become. Lored Morley has described the British Prime Minister as being “Primus Inter Pares” meaning first among equals.

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