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Don’t forget individual ministerial responsibility

Published: 
Sunday, April 22, 2018

The doctrine of individual ministerial responsibility must not be forgotten. While this may be a moot point and debatable to infinity, as a pragmatist we cannot expect the head of the executive (a sitting Prime Minister) to check and know every piece of minutiae in a ministry given the mandate.

While the doctrine is not regulated by statue and done mostly out of convention and developed as such by precedent, we really need to look at the fact that the titles given to those in the executive/legislative/judicial arms of the State are “Honourable” and as such when one has behaved less than as such, they should do the noble thing.

There are many examples to cite where the doctrine of individual ministerial responsibility has been used and the ministers at the time did the honourable thing and followed all the tenets of the doctrine: they informed and explained, apologised, taken action, and resigned:

Thomas Lionel Dugdale, 1st Baron Crathorne, known as Sir Thomas Dugdale, 1st Baronet, from 1945 to 1959, was a British Conservative Party politician.

A government minister, he resigned over the Crichel Down Affair, often quoted as a classic example of the convention of individual ministerial responsibility.

In the history of modern Parliament, the Crichel Down affair takes on momentous significance, and has been described as a “political bombshell”.

The public inquiry into the Crichel Down events revealed a catalogue of ineptitude and maladministration and resulted directly in the resignation of the Secretary of State for Agriculture (Sir Thomas Dugdale), then a senior cabinet position, and was the first case of ministerial resignation since 1917.

Reginald Maulding resigned as Home Secretary in 1972 because of the revelations of the business practices and acquaintances of the architect John Poulson.

He stated that he had no other option but to resign and he wrote his letter of resignation to the Prime Minister and asked that it be read out in the Lower House of Parliament—The House of Commons.

In December 1988, Peter Mandelson, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry resigned following the Paymaster General at the Treasury loan of $373,000 to Mr Mandelson to support his purchase of a house in Notting Hill.

He stated in his resignation letter: “I accept that the existence of the loan should have been made known to my Permanent Secretary so as to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.”

It seems that fantasy fiction renowned authors like JK Rowlings and Patrick Rothfuss may have to watch out.

Very soon, joining the line of New York Best Sellers will be “A Game of Trini Thrones” authored and narrated by T&T politicians—unabridged, uncensored, written in the first person narrative style.

HANSEN STEWART

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