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Meet the REAL Cabinet

Although David Cameron is aiming to restore Cabinet government the real business of policy prioritisation takes place in smaller, more focused Cabinet Committees. Yesterday we learnt the composition of those Committees. 

if I had to identify the two Cabinet Committees with the real power I'd focus on two.

Most important is the "Coalition Committee".

It will meet weekly with the following all-male membership and remit:

"To meet weekly, or as required, to manage the business and priorities of the Government and the implementation and operation of the Coalition agreement. This Committee will be deemed quorate if two members from each party in the coalition are present."


  1. Prime Minister: (Co-Chair): David Cameron MP
  2. Deputy Prime Minister (Co-Chair): Nick Clegg MP
  3. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Deputy Chair): William Hague MP
  4. Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Deputy Chair): Chris Huhne MP
  5. Chancellor of the Exchequer: George Osborne MP
  6. Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills: Vince Cable MP
  7. Secretary of State for Scotland: Danny Alexander MP
  8. Chief Secretary to the Treasury: David Laws MP
  9. Minister for the Cabinet Office: Oliver Letwin MP
  10. Paymaster General Minister of State – Cabinet Office: Francis Maude MP
Five Conservatives. Five Liberal Democrats. This Committee includes the most powerful figures of each of the parties (with the exception of Michael Gove for the Conservatives). Most of the members of the negotiating teams for the two parties sit on this Committee. It will be in this Committee that the strategic direction of the Government is agreed.

A second Committee will be the working group for the first. Its remit is described as the "Coalition Operation and Strategic Planning Group."

It has two Tory members: Oliver Letwin and Francis Maude. It has two Liberal Democrat members: Danny Alexander and Lord Wallace of Tankerness (former Deputy First Minister of Scotland and therefore the closest the Coalition has to a veteran of these kind of arrangements).

Screen shot 2010-05-22 at 07.43.49In their overall assessment of the Cabinet Committees the newspapers have focused on the significant role given to Nick Clegg:

"Nick Clegg has been handed sweeping powers in the coalition Government which will make him a more powerful figure than Lord Mandelson was under Labour." - Daily Mail

"Nick Clegg's writ as deputy prime minister runs to being in charge of five of the nine full cabinet committees, the government revealed yesterday... Clegg will chair the cabinet committee on domestic affairs, giving him control over reforms in health, education and policing." - Guardian

A significant role has been given to Iain Duncan Smith. As promised by David Cameron at last year's Party Conference he will chair a new 'Social Justice' committee that will co-ordinate the Coalition's anti-poverty agenda.

The Chancellor George Osborne - rather than Vince Cable - will chair the Cabinet Committee on Banking Reform. This will reassure the City who feared that the Business Secretary would be in charge of a policy area where he had been bellicose in opposition.

Here is the full press release from the Cabinet Office.

Tim Montgomerie


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