Functions of the UK Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is the corner stone of the Constitution. In his hand is the key of Government. His duties are onerous and his authority enormous. Gladstone described these thus. The Head of the British Government is not a Grand Vizier. He has no powers, properly so called, over his colleagues on the rare occasions when a Cabinet determines its course by the votes of its members, his vote counts only as one of theirs. But they are appointed and dismissed by the Sovereign on his advice.
In a perfectly organized administration as that of Sir Robert Peel in 1841-46, nothing of great importance is matured, or would even be projected, in any department without his personal cognizance and any weighty business would commonly go to him before being submitted to the Cabinet.
He reports to the Sovereign its proceedings, and he also has many audiences of the august occupant of the throne There is much truth i in what Gladstone had said. But nearly all recent developments have tended to increase the authority of the Prime Minister. Indeed, the tendency of the British politics has been to steadily transfer power, not only from the House of Commons to the Cabinet but within the Cabinet to a small group and from the small group to one man, the Prime Minister.
There are and were very many good reasons for this change. The extension of the franchise, the prestige which Gladstone and Disraeli conferred upon the office give to the Prime Minister position and authority almost comparable with the President of the United States.
He is even likened to a dictator, not perhaps the ideological dictator of our times, but the benevolent despot of the eighteenth century history with his all pervasive influence in society This Is, indeed, an exaggeration, although the powers of the Prime Minister are very wide, and his status and prestige enviable.
The Prime Minister makes the government With the selection of the Prime Minister the essential work of the King is completed, for it rests with the former to make up his list of Ministers and present it for the Royal assent. Technically, the last word rests with the King, because it is he who appoints them, But in practices, the decision belongs to the Prime Minister and the Royal assent is more of less a formality, Even Queen Victoria never carried her objections on political grounds.
The Prime Minister in constituting his Government has to consider the claims and views of leading members of his party in both Houses. But, as Amery puts it, subject to Parliament putting up with his selection of his colleagues and his arrangement of offices, he has a very free hand in shaping his government according to his own view of what is likely to work best and according to his personal preference.
It is for him to decide on the size of the Cabinet and the Ministers to be included in it In fact; the British Prime Minister has never been under any sort of direct dictation either from Parliament or from a Party Executive in making his government.
He may even select colleagues outside the ranks of his Party, or even outside Parliament, if in his judgment a particular person is specially fitted for particular job, For example, in 1903 Balfour offered the Colonial Office to Lord Milner, when he was still the High Commissioner in South Africa and had no parliamentary experience to his credit MacDonald in 1924, made Lord Chelmsford, a non-party ex-Viceroy of India, First Lord of the Admiralty.
The most remarkable example is that of Baldwin’s appointment in 1924 of Winston Churchill as Chancellor of the Exchequer, The Conservative Party was vehemently opposed to this appointment, But the appointment was made and the Conservative Party in Parliament though never quite reconciled to grumbled and submitted.
Harold Wilton appointed Patrick Gordon, Walker to such an exalted office as the Foreign Secretary, though defeated in the General Election. L.S, Amery while summing up this power of the Prime Minister says, Few dictators, indeed, enjoy such a measure of automatic power as is enjoyed by a British Prime Minister while in process of making up his Cabinet.
Many of the choices of the Prime Minister, however, are obvious. He must include among his Ministers men of standing with the Party. The history of how Arthur Henderson became Foreign Secretary in 1929, shows that in a party’s government a vital member of the party can always set limits to the discretion a Prime Minister can exercise; he must include essential men. This is perhaps particularly important in fact of the diverse elements within the British parties.
In 1964 and 1974, Harold Wilson included in his Cabinet Ministers drawn from various sections of the Labour Party, including militants like Frank Cousins and Barbara Castle. Harold Macmillan included in his Cabinet in 1957 both the left and right wingers like R.A. Butler and Lord Salisbury.
The Prime Minister, while composing his Cabinet has often to decide whether a particular extremist in the party would be a threat to party in or out of the Cabinet. He may decide to buy silence from a potential rebel by entrusting him with Ministerial office. This perhaps influenced Attlee’s inclusion of Aneurin Bevin in his Cabinet, and Wilson’s inclusion of Cousins and Barbara. Nevertheless, Prime Minister’s discretion, as Laski puts it is both wide and mysterious.
Herman Finer expresses the same view in his own characteristic way. He says, The Prime Minister has to make the Cabinet work; it is his; he must give it cohesion; he must arbitrate differences of view and personality; he must fit all the necessary talents together into a reputable team.
In the allocation of offices, as well, the Prime Minister offers posts in his discretion, although politicians of standing can safely decline what is given, if they command so much support in the party as to make it unwise to dispense with their services. But rarely the Prime Minister’s final allocation is rejected, because refusal may mean exclusion from office not merely for the term of that Parliament, but, perhaps, for ever.
Sir Robert Horne, who had been a successful President of the Board of Trade and Chancellor of the Exchequer, refused in 1924 the Ministry of Labour that Baldwin offered him and he was never considered again for any future office.
It is only exceptional resourceful or fortunate political rouge elephant says Amery , that ones extruded form the government herd can find their way back into it, as both Mr Churchill and the prevent writer (Amery Himself) discoverer for defect after 1929 .
The Prime Minister to appointment or dismiss his colleagues . He is free in the exercise of his impartial judgement to make what appointment may seen good to him. He must time to time every with allocations of office his year guess and consider who allocations the best that can be effected.
Both as captain of the team and the head of administrations , it is his duty to request any of his colleague whose present of the ministry in his opinion or judgement of the efficiency integrity or policy of the government to resign of cabinet.
The prime Minister can also advise their sovereign to dismiss a minister. According to law a minister holds office at the pleasure of the King and he can be dismissed whenever it pleases His Majesty. It is now a well establishment custom that the prerogative of dismissal is exercised solely on the advice of the Prime minister.
It is however doubtful if ever a prime minister would advice dissimilar expect in years extreme case. All the same the right of the prime minister is there . Sir Robert Peel maintained that under all ordinary circumstance if there were a serious difference of opinion between the Prime minister and one of his colleague and that difference could not be recorder by an amicable understanding, the result would be retained of the colleague,not the prime minister.
But such a crisis would never come. In Britain there is a tradition a kind of public school function that no minister desires office but that he is prepared to carry on for the public goods.
This tradition implies a duty to resign when a hint is given. There are many instance of such resignation, Lowe and Aryton resigned in 1873. Seeley in 1914, and Austin Chamberlain in 1917. Montagu in 1924; and Sir Samuel Hoare in 1935. But Mrs Margaret Thatcher dismissed the Navy Minister Keith Speed, when he was asked to resign and made excuses and forced another, Hal Miler parliamentary Private Secretary, to resign.
To sum up, it is a purely personal authority of the Prime Minister to ask a colleague to resign or to receptive another office. Removal from office is always a stronger step and it may have its repercussions in the House of Commons and in the constituencies.
It may even lead to the breaking up of the Cabinet. Moreover it is a declaration of weakness and defective judgement in placing the Minister in office, or suggests error of policy on the part of the Prime Minister. No Prime Minister will, therefore, go to the extreme of dismissing a colleague.
There are other polite methods of doing things. The Prime Minister can rid himself of an undesired colleague by a general reshuffle of the Ministry and it is the best way of avoiding a slight on a person who may have considerable parliamentary and popular support.
The recent tendency, begun by Churchill, continued by:Attlee and invariably followed by his successors, has been to make changes more frequently to weed out unwanted incumbents. In a major reshuffle of her Cabinet on 14 September 1981; Mrs Thatcher dropped three so-called wets persons who had openly questioned her economic policies and shifted Keith Josephs from the Industry Ministry to the comparatively innocuous department of education.
Among those dropped were Mark Carlisle, Lord Soams and Peter has sacked more Minister than Mrs Thatcher and at the time of her resignation from the office of Prime Minister ship in November a 1990 only three of her original Cabinet Ministers remained in office. To remain more dignified some Prime Ministers elevates the offending Ministers in order forget rid of them. This is one of the chief, though least used arguments for the retention of the House of Lords.
Then, the Prime Minister is the leader of his Party. The general election is in reality the election of a Prime Minister. The wavering voters who decide elections support neither a party nor a policy. They support a leader, The Prime Minister has, therefore, to give effective leadership.
He must feel the pulse of the people and try to know true and genuine public opinion on matters which confront the nation. He must also guide public opinion by receiving deputations, and discuss issues by public speech at party conferences, and on other important occasions which demand proper attention.
He should also give the Opposition a feeling that the Government will not ride rough-shod over the wishes of the minorities. For all this, he needs strength of character, the gift of leadership, patience, tact and a devotion to principles. He must also guide and inspire those he has chosen as Ministers and should enjoy the confidence of a majority in the House of Commons. In short, the Prime Minister must be a capable evaluator of public opinion and at the same time an expert in propaganda. He must know what to say, when to say, and when not to say anything.
Jennings gives a graphic picture of the qualities which a Prime Minister should possess. He says, Since his personality and prestige play a considerable part in molding public opinion, he ought to have something of the popular appeal of a film actor and he must take some care over his make-up like Mr. Gladstone with his collars; Mr. Lloyd George with his hair, Mr. Baldwin with his pipes and Mr. Churchill with his cigars.
Unlike a film actor, however, he ought to be a good inventor of speeches as well as a good orator. Even more important, perhaps, is his microphone manner, for few attend meetings but millions look to broadcasts. Finally, it is essential that he should be able to retain the loyalties of his political friends and it helps considerably if he remembers their names, asks the right questions about their families, realizes when sympathy or congratulation is required, and generally is good fixer with exactly the right measure of condescension. To this, we should add now his television appeal and mannerism, including debating skills.
A party which has not a leader cannot function. Its condition, in fact, becomes hopelessly chaotic. In the same way, a party with a weak leader is in a weak position. It is not possible for it to attract popular support and be in a position to form government. It has been claimed that in 964 and 1966 the Labour Party won and the Conservatives lost the elections largely because of the impression, made by their leaders. During the winter of 1965-66 the Rhodesian crisis had raised Wilson’s stature as & Prime Minister, whereas by March 1966 Heath had been leader of the Conservative Party for only seven months, sand was still very much the new boy.
In the Conservative Party the leader is the Party. He controls the Party organization and its funds. He also carries with him disciplinary authority and uses this weapon of decisive power against any one who dare challenge his authority. The Chairman and Leader of the Labour Parliamentary party is recognized as the Leader of the Labour Party not only in Parliament but also in the country; he is ex official a member of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party and he as free to attend any of the Sub-Committees of the Executive as an ex official member if and when he wishes to do so.
In fact, the prestige of the Prime Minister and the party are closely intertwined. It is the party which makes the leader, but once the leader had been elected the party support is concentrated in the leader. The majority which the party receives at the polls is a party majority, but it owes its allegiance to the leader and it is spoken of as his party. Party prestige with the electorate demands it and this is the real strength of the Prime Minister. A Prime Minister must, therefore, strive for the unity of his party and his personality should be capable of inspiring loyalty in his colleagues and trust in the country.
The Prime Minister is the Chairman of the Cabinet. He must pick a team and keep it as a team, and, accordingly, his task as Chairman of Cabinet meetings, in which Government policy is hammered into shape and decisions taken, is of crucial importance. The Prime Minister is the leader of the Party and his colleagues in the Cabinet owe him a personal as well as a party allegiance.
He controls agenda and it is for him to accept or reject proposals for discussion submitted by Ministers. The Ministers always consult him before important proposals are put forward and his support solicited. It is also well recognized that in Britain and the Anglo-Saxon countries generally the Chairman of any committee attracts a special kind of loyalty engendered by the vague feeling that business is expedited and improved by order and that one must be prepared to suffer the Chairman’s ruling for the sake of the collective enterprise. A casting vote, too, is inherent in the chairman. All this gives pre-eminent authority to the Prime Minister as chairmen of the Cabinet. But Cabinet in Britain does not take decisions by votes now.
Since gin does not taken, the Prime Minister’s power to sum up in Cabinet discussions is very important. Jennings says, A team of politicians is probably the most difficult to handle because, though each of them knows that his political future depends on the success of the team, there will usually be a few who are anxious to become captain. The management of the Cabinet is, thus, certainly the Prime Minister’s most difficult function because it compels him to take difficult decisions not only on the substance but also on the tactics.
The Prime Minister may seek to persuade a minority of convince a majority. He may feel it necessary sometimes to give way to the majority even when he does not agree or try to force his own opinion on the Cabinet as Gladstone almost always did. But in the latter case the Prime Minister must run the risk of splitting the party. He must reconcile the differences of opinion between Ministers. If he fails, he may shatter the Government and the Party and leave his leadership self-condemned, as Balfour’s was by 1905.
Some Prime Ministers tad really been good Chairmen. They had a ways striven to see the main issues and he questions of principle. By dint of their commonsense and good judgment they guided the discussions towards a definite conclusion ensuring harmonious and efficient teamwork. Laid Samuel has given an excellent description of Ramsay MacDonald was a good Chairman of cabinet, carefully preparing his Material beforehand, conciliatory in manner and resourceful.
In The conduct of a Cabinet when a knot or a tangle begins to appear, the important thing is for the prime Minster not to let it be drawn tight; so long as it is kept loose it may still be unraveled. MacDonald was Skillful in such a situation and there were Many.
As the guide of the Cabinet the prime minister is the chief coordinator of the policies of the several Ministers and Ministers. He more than anyone else, must endeavor to see the work of the Government as a whole and bring the variety of Government activities into reasonable relationship with one another. He is, in fact, the Manager-in-Chief of the Government business. Sir Robert Peel is universally acclaimed the model Prime Minister.
He supervised and was genuinely familiar with the business of each Department. Though he had an able Chance or of the Exchequer, in whom he had full confidence, he himself introduced the budgets in 1842 and 1845. The War Office, the Admiralty, in Foreign Office, the administration of India an Ireland felt his personal influence as much as the Treasury and Board of Trade.
Such close attention is no longer possible now. The functions of Government have expanded so widely and its activities have become so complex that even if a Prime Minister is to regard Sir Robert Peel as a model and intervene when he considers it necessary, the result will be equally disastrous to him and to the country. But the Prime Minister must keep an eye on what goes on in the Departments and must know enough to be ready to intervene if he apprehends that some things wrong.
Usually, he exercises supervision through the eagerness of the Ministers to consult him, but he must have the ability to give sound advice almost on the spur of the moment. If he is intellectually lazy like Baldwin or difficult of approach like MacDonald, he cannot exercise these functions properly.
The Work of coordinator is done by the various Committees of the cabinet, but the prime minister is as Herbert Morrison said, Eminently a coordinator minister. He decides what cabinet committees there will be appoints the Chairmen and presides over some Committees himself Attlee was Chairman of the committee for Commonwealth Affairs, Far Eastern Affairs, Economic Policy, Housing, National Health Service, Food and Fuel, and Indian Affairs, during the two Ministries, 1945-51.
The Prime Minister must also keep in touch with the work of the other Cabinet Committees. And with a wide ministerial experience to his credit before. Stepping into 10 Downing Street the Prime Minister can perform this function efficiently and effectively, as did Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee, Harold Macmillan and Harold Wilson, to take just a few examples from a long list of modem Prime Ministers.
The Prime Minister must be in the closest contact with the Foreign Secretary and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. For the rest, his door must ever be open, his mind clear and his judgment rapid and efficient. Foreign affairs are always on the agenda and decisions of great importance demand speedy determination. There may be no time to summon a meeting of the Cabinet. In such cases the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary consult each other and a decision is reached. The Prime Minister may even man the entire policy.
Neville Chamberlain adopted a foreign policy of his own, forced it on the Foreign Office and compelled the Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, to resign. But foreign policy cannot be divorced from the defense and trade policy. Chamberlain used the Principal Economic Adviser to the Government as his principal assistant in the conduct of his foreign policy. Churchill’s task was fundamentally different. In war-time there is one supreme function of the Government and it is to win the war, and it must inevitably be the Prime Minister’s personal concern.
All cries is subordinated to it. In the main, the nature of international relations today, with summit meetings of Heads of States and the aced for speedy military decisions in the nuclear age, forces the direct and personal involvement of the Prime Minister in foreign affairs. The effect of two Wars on the machinery of Cabinet government was to concentrate power in the hands of the Prime Minister and his close advisers, This increased authority has been retained to some extent in peacetime too.
The Prime Minister’s responsibilities for the co-ordination of the administration are further indicated by the fact that he leads the Civil Service Department established in 1968, in pursuance of the recommendation of the Fulton Committee, The Civil Service Department is under the control of the Prime Minister as Minister for Civil Service, with responsibility for the day-to-day work of the Department delegated to a senior Minister assisted by a Parliamentary Secretary. The Department’s Permanent Secretary is also the official head of the Home Civil Service.
The Prime Minister is the real leader of the House of Commons. Now the tendency is that he designates another colleague as Leader of the House and delegates to him the specific function of arranging the business of the House, but this delegation cannot deprive the Prime Minister of his function as leader of the Government. The problem is not, as Jennings says, that the Government runs the risk of defeat for unless the party breaks up, or has no majority, or has a very small majority, the Government cannot be defeated but that it runs the risk of being worsted in the argument.
The House is the finest platform it Europe the only debating society in Britain whose debates are read, or at least glanced at, by millions. If the Government is to keep its majority in the country, it must consistently make a good. case principal announcements of policy and business are made by the Prime Minister and all questions on non-departmental affairs and upon critical issues are addressed to him.
He initiates or intervenes in debates of general importance, such as those on defenses, foreign affairs, and domestic issues of primary character. In fact, the House always looks to him as the fountain of policy. He is also recognized to have an immediate authority to correct what he may consider the errors of omission and commission of the colleagues.
The party Whips in the House are under the Prime Minister’s direct supervision and through them he issues orders to the rank and file of the party. He assists the Speaker and the Chairman in maintaining order and decorum in the House in brief, the House comes to a large extent under the control of the Prime Minister. The management of the Government’s majority and the maintenance of smooth relations with the Opposition depend upon his inspiring lead and parliamentary skill. The Prime Minister ought to be what is called good House of Commons man, a man who observes its traditions and knows to handle it, a man like Baldwin or Churchill.
The Prime Minister wields the supreme power of dissolution and, thus, holds the security of Members on both sides of the gangway in the House in his hands. It means that the members of the House of Commons hold their seats at the mercy of the Prime Minister’s use of this terrifying power, for it means new elections without certainty that they will be elected. Men do not like to run the risks, observes Byrum Carter, which are involved in this process, if little is to be gained from incurring the danger. The threat of dissolution, thus, hangs over their heads, restraining them, restricting their independence, leading them into the government body.
There is some divergence of opinion among the authorities on the question whether the King can refuse a dissolution to a Prime Minister who asks for it. Winston Churchill stated during the course of the debate on the Education Bill in March, 1944, that although advice to dissolve comes from the Prime Minister, it is only advice and may, in exceptional circumstances, be disregarded. What those exceptional circumstances can be have been explained by Sir David Keith in his Constitutional History of Modern Britain.
He writes The King’s prerogative, however circumscribed by convention, must always retain its historic character as a residue of discretionary authority to be employed for the public good. It is the last resource provided by the Constitution to guarantees – its own working. It is, however, difficult to imagine circumstances in which the King could refuse dissolution to a Prime Minister.
Laski clearly stated that this part of the royal prerogative is as obsolete as the royal veto power. If the King refused a dissolution to a Prime Minister, he would be substituting his judgment about the need for and timing of a General Election for that of his Chief Minister.
The Prime Minister, under such circumstances, will presumably resign, though he had with him a clear majority in the House of Commons. Whine the Prime Minister resigns, the King will naturally send for the Leader of the Opposition and commission him to form the Government. Such a Government cannot continue in office unless it is supported by the House of Commons.
As there is no majority for the new Government, the King will be complied of dissolve Parliament and General Election held. But the King could hardly grant a dissociation to the second Prime Minister after refusing to the first. If he does and he must do it, his neutral position will be fatally compromised. Jennings concludes that thus, while the King’s personal prerogative is maintained in theory, it can hardly be exercised in practice. During the fast more than hundred years there has been no | instance of refusal of a dissolution by the e King when advised.
The right to advise a dissolution was tong assumed to belong to the Cabinet. The decision to dissolve now rests with the Prime Minister and this has been done since 1918. In fact, since that time no decision to dissolve has been brought before the Cabinet, and Prime Ministers now assume a right to tender advice to dissolve on their own account. This aspect was further explained by Sir John Simon in 1935, He wrote that the decision whether there shall be an immediate general election, and, if so, on what date the country should go to the polls, rests with the Prime Minister, and until the Prime Minister has decided, all anticipations are without authority. Keith is of the opinion that the Cabinet
Keith is of the opinion that the cabinet should be consulting and decide the issue of dissolution and if the older practice has been departed and if the older practice has been departed from, to some degree, it is no ground that further departure should take place. It is derogatory he says, to the dignity of other Cabinet Ministers, and tends to make them appear tn the public eye the servants, rather than equals, of the Prime Minister. It runs counter to the best aspects of the Constitution, the doctrine of collective i that for oy reason or other, in this Vital issue, the Prime Minister has per-eminence in of her issues denied to him.
Morrison said that the presence of members of the Secretariat at Cabinet meetings precludes the discussion of such matters as the political factors involved in a dissolution. But in 1966 and on other past occasions, informal discussions took place between the Prime Minister and some of his colleagues.
The Prime Minister is the only channel of communication with the Crown on matters of public concern, although there are many examples of the Crown’s connection with individual Ministers behind the back of the Prime Minister, Apart from the Cabinet conclusions, which are drawn by the Cabinet Secretariat and a copy sent to him, the King has no official means of knowing of the Cabinet discussions, except what the Prime Minister may choose to tell him. This account is not revised by his colleagues. He is also the chief adviser of the Sovereign and in emergencies the Monarch will first consult the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister advises the King on royal activities of an official character such as a visit to a foreign country, or tour of a part of the kingdom or empire or Commonwealth countries. The consultations between Queen Elizabeth II and Macmillan, which preceded the royal visit to Ghana in 1961, when there seemed to be an element of personal danger involved for the Monarch, is a recent example. Stanley Baldwin regarded it both a duty and right to offer counsel to Edward VIII on his contemplated marriage with Mrs. Simpson He consulted the Cabinet only at that stage when differences of an irreconcilable nature had developed between him and the King. The Prime Minister, then, became as usual the link between the King and Cabinet interpreting the opinions and decisions of one to the other.
The Prime Minister has wide powers of patronage including the appointment and dismissal of Ministers. In 1962, Harold Macmillan virtually dismissed a third of this cabinet Margaret Thatcher repeated it in 1981 and ageing in 1986. Sir Geoffery Howe, Deputy Prime Minister in Thatcher Government resigned on November,1990 over differences with the Prime minister on her approach to European Economic and Monetary Union.
In an age when professional politicians predominate, the Prime Minister ability to affect the career of ambitious Member of Parliament, inevitably gives him or her considerable power and authority. In a BBC programed early in 1988, Margaret Thatcher’s for member Defense Minister Sir John Nott accused her of going over the top, in her dealings with cabinet colleagues,promoting a cult of personality. The Cabinet was never more than a rubber stamp, he said.
The distribution of general patronage through the Honor list gives the Prime Minister an influence in many sectors of national life. Though Lloyd George’s abuse of patronage discredited the whole system, and since 1922, a Committee of the Privy Council has vetted all proposed awards, but no grant is made without the Prime Minister’s recommendation, The patronage, therefore, remains a valuable political weapon in the hands of the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister’s power of appointment is not as extensive as that of the President of the United States, but it is considerable nevertheless. All Ministerial positions are his gifts. So is the allocation of Ministerial offices. He will either himself select new occupants or be consulted by the Minister concerned when there are vacancies in the chief diplomatic, military, judicial and ecclesiastical offices.
Though Departmental Ministers have particular responsibility for their departmental officials, the Civil Service as a whole is controlled by the Treasury under the direction of the Prime Minister as First Lord. The Permanent Secretary of the Treasury advises the Prime Minister and-he himself makes appointments of the Permanent Secretary or the permanent Under Secretary, Deputy Secretary or the deputy Under Secretary and the principal establishment officers in each of the Government Departments. Thus, as with the Ministerial hierarchy, the Prime Minister can be seen as head of the permanent administrative structure.
Then there are a good many special appointments if which the Prime Minister is interested Governors-Generals in the Dominions, High Commissioners in-the Commonwealth countries, British representatives to important international organizations; and Board members of nationalized industries. He will certainly be consulted about many of these, and frequently the choice is his.
The Prime Minister also recommends to the Sovereign for the appointment of Church of England Archbishops, bishops and certain other senior clergy, as well as for appointments to high judicial offices, such as Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, Lord Chief Justice and Lord Justices of Appeal. He also advises the Crown on appointment of Privy councilors, Lord Lieutenants of counties and certain civil appointments, such as, Lord High Commissioner of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Poet Laureate, Constable of the Tower and some University appointments which are in the gift of the Crown.
The Prime Minister may occasionally attend and participate in international conferences or meetings. Lord Beaconsfield attended the Congress of Berlin, Lloyd George participated in the Peace Conference at Paris, and Neville Chamberlain led the meetings in Germany preceding the Munich Agreement. Churchill attained new heights during the Second World War in his six meetings with President Roosevelt and two with Stalin.
Ramsay MacDonald personally discussed with Dr. Dawes in 1929 on the most important phase of Anglo-American relations. He also went to the United States to confer with President Hoover on the limitation of armaments. The recent practice of holding Summit Conferences has further enhanced the powers and prestige of the Prime Minister.
He conducts relations in matters of Cabinet rank with the Commonwealth countries. A classical example was afforded by the negotiations over the mode in which effect was to given to the abdication of King Edward VII.
The Prime Minister acts, though infrequently, either without authorization by the Cabinet or even against previously determined Cabinet policy. Lloyd George decided upon his own initiative to call a session of the Imperial War Conference and announced it in Parliament without receiving the proper authorization of the Cabinet.
Stanley Baldwin raised in 1923 the issue of protection without previously consulting us Cabinet. Baldwin also took the initial steps in the action which led to abdication of Edward VIII without previously consulting his Cabinet. In the Second World War, Winston Churchill made a speech on 22nd June 1941, offering all possible assistance to the Soviet Union without consulting the Cabinet and he added, nor was it necessary.
Whenever the prime Minister acts as such, the Cabinet is rather in a difficult position, for it must either accept the policy enunciated by the Prime Minister or run the risk of losing its leader unless it is possible to find a compromise which will save the prestige of both. But such a course of action is unusual as it endangers Cabinet unity and at the same time the security of the Prime Minister.
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