THE REAL EXECUTIVE
1. POLICY FORMING: MINISTRY, CABINET, AND PRIVY COUNCIL
The responsible ministers in England, who compose the Policy Forming Executive, may be regarded as having both an individual and a collective existence. Taken together, they form what is commonly called the Ministry. The more important of the ministers make up the Cabinet.
The Ministry and Cabinet are alike in being extra-legal bodies. The Cabinet differs from the Ministry in that its members meet together, consult, and make decisions. However, as the Cabinet has no real legal existence, its actions as such have not the force of law. Where it is desirable that the collective decisions of the Cabinet possess legal effect, the decisions are formally made the action of the Privy Council, which, of course, has an existence in law. As a matter of fact, all members of the Cabinet are members of the Privy Council.
The relationships of Ministry, Cabinet, and Privy Council are in appearance somewhat complicated. In practice, these relationships give rise to little, if any, difficulty. The whole situation is to be explained largely in terms of history.
There are, roughly speaking, about seventy-five ministers. Together they perform no function, unless it be to come into and go out of office as a body. This they normally do. Since they are policy-forming or political agents of government, their tenure, as is required by democratic theory, depends in general on public opinion. Aside from this consideration, the Ministry is merely a convenient concept that embraces all the ministers collectively. On the other hand, though the ministers in this corporate aspect perform no real functions and have no legal being, each of them separately has a definite existence in law. His position is established by law, and his powers and duties, though convention likewise plays its part, are defined by law.