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All Government Departments are run by Ministers who are either Members of the House of Commons or Members of the House of Lords. There are three classes of Ministers:
· Secretary of State (this is usually the head of a Department).
· Minister of State (this is a middle-ranking minister).
· Under-Secretary of State (this is the most junior class of minister).
The Prime Minster and all the Secretaries of State together comprise an executive body of government called the Cabinet. The numbers often fluctuate between 21 and 24 (currently 23). The Cabinet meets usually once a week in the Cabinet Room at Prime Minister’s residence at 10, Downing Street. Cabinet meetings are confidential and all members are bound by any decision that it takes in a practice called collective responsibility. An extensive system of Cabinet Committees considers matters either before they go to Cabinet or (more usually) instead of them going to Cabinet.
Although all Ministers are appointed by the Prime Minster and report to him, ultimately all Ministers are accountable to Parliament:
· About once a month, they have to face questions in the House of Commons about the work of the Department.
· Each government department has a special committee of the House of Commons which watches the work of that Department.
· Any government initiative or important statement concerning a Department must be the subject of an appearance in the House of Commons by a minister from that Department.