The Principles of Individual and Collective Responsibility | Definition & Differences
Collective Responsibility of the Cabinet In Parliamentary System of Government
Collective responsibility is a feature of parliamentary system of government. Cabinet meetings are held regularly and decisions taken are not published. It would be a breach of the official secret act of a minister to reveal what was discussed at any of the meetings. Although discussion is private, decisions are made plain on the actions of the government.
For these decisions, all members of the cabinet are responsible. This is part of the “doctrine of collective responsibility”, the policies of every department affect one another. Any member opposing government policy or decision is expected to either withdraw what he has said or resigns.
The decisions of the government are binding on every member. Each member must also defend such decisions in the public and in the parliament. Again, if a minister has presented the government in a bad light, the parliament will pass a vote of no confidence and all cabinet ministers must resign.
Similarly, if the prime minister, who is always the chairman at the meetings dies or resigns, the whole members of the council of ministers must resign with him and the government automatically ceases to be in power while the Queen or President is called upon to formally dissolve the parliament for a fresh election.
Individual Responsibility in Parliamentary System of Government
The principle of individual responsibility
This is a popular principle in a presidential system of government. A minister appointed by the president is individually held responsible for any decision made or taken in his department or ministry. Therefore, the minister has both constitutional and political responsibilities for the department he or she is in charge of.
The president appoints a minister after the approval from the parliament, making him or her responsible to both the president and the Parliament on issues pertaining to his ministry. The president has the power to dismiss or remove any erring minister from office.
Differences Between Collective Responsibility and Individual Responsibility of the Ministers
The principle of individual ministerial responsibility refers to the convention that a minister is responsible to every actions of their department / ministry and it’s applicable in the presidential system of government. Collective responsibility is to cabinet or parliamentary system of government where ministers are collectively responsible for there decisions.