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A Minister without Portfolio is either a government minister with no specific responsibilities or a minister that does not head a particular ministry. The position is particularly common in countries ruled by coalition governments and a cabinet with decision making authority wherein a minister without portfolio, while he or she may not head any particular office or ministry, they do have the right to cast a vote in cabinet decisions. In some countries where the executive branch is not composed of a coalition of parties and, more often, in countries where the cabinet acts in a mostly advisory capacity to the executive branch (such as in the United States, for example), the position (or an equivalent position) of minister without portfolio is uncommon, simply because ministers are relatively unimportant in such systems.

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Canada

While Minister without Portfolio is seen by some as a mere patronage appointment, it has been a role that numerous political notables have played over time, including recent Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, who filled the role in a Pearson cabinet in the 60s; John Turner also "kept a seat warm" in a Pearson cabinet. Notable Conservatives who filled the role include R. B. Bennett, and Arthur Meighen; however, Meighen served this role after he had been prime minister.

The title of Minister without Portfolio has been used off and on; however, in recent times the title has fallen out of favour, and the last minister without portfolio, Gilles Lamontagne, was promoted to postmaster general in 1978. The practice has continued under the guise of ministers of state without responsibilities in the ministers' title, with Jay Hill currently holding such a position (while concurrently serving as Chief Government Whip).

Denmark

Three "control ministers" served as Ministers without Portfolio during World War I.

After the Liberation of Denmark in May 1945, the first Danish cabinet included four Ministers without Portfolio. Among these were Danish ambassador to the U.S. Henrik Kauffmann who had conducted his own foreign policy throughout the war and refused to follow orders from Copenhagen as long as Denmark remained occupied by a foreign power. Kauffmann served in this capacity from 12 May to 7 November 1945. The three other holders of this title had joined the cabinet a few days before; Aksel Larsen (Communist Party of Denmark), Kr. Juul Christensen (Danish Unity) and Frode Jakobsen (Social Democrats).

Lise Østergaard held a position as Minister without Portfolio with special attention to Foreign Policy Issues in Anker Jørgensen's cabinet from 26 February 1977 to 28 February 1980.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen appointed Bertel Haarder to Minister without Portfolio but effectively Minister for European Affairs. Haarder served in this capacity from 27 November 2001 to 18 February 2005. The reason for appointing a minister without a ministry was due to the Danish European Union Presidency of 2002 and Haarder was considered the most experienced Danish politician on European Affairs.

Germany

Since 1949, a Federal Minister for Special Affairs (Bundesminister für besondere Aufgaben) is a member of the Federal Government that does not have charge of a Federal Ministry, although some have simultaneously been Chief of the Federal Chancellor's Office.

India

Bulgaria

Ireland

The Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act, 1939 (Section 4) allows a member of the Government of Ireland not to have charge of a Department of State; such a person is referred to as a "Minister without portfolio" (Irish: Aire gan ceannas Roinne). Such a minister may nevertheless be given a specific title. The only minster without portfolio has been Frank Aiken, the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures during World War II.[1] By the Emergency Powers Act 1939 then in force, the Minister for Defence was able to delegate some competences to him.[2][3] Such delegation is now done instead with Ministers of State: "junior ministers" who are not members of the government.

Israel

It is common practice in Israel to appoint ministers without portfolio as part of the coalition negotiations. All cabinets in recent years have had at least some such appointment. The full list of Ministers without Portfolio since 1949 is:

Netherlands

A Minister without Portfolio in the Netherlands is a minister that does not head a specific ministry, but assumes the same power and responsibilities as a minister that does. The minister is responsible for a specific part of another minister's policy field. The minister for development cooperation has always been a minister without portfolio.

In the second Balkenende cabinet there were three ministers without portfolio: Agnes van Ardenne (Development Cooperation), Rita Verdonk (Integration and Immigration) and Alexander Pechtold (Government Reform and Kingdom Relations).

In the current fourth Balkenende cabinet there are three ministers without portfolio: Eberhard van der Laan (Housing, Neighbourhoods and Integration), Bert Koenders (Development Cooperation) and André Rouvoet, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Youth and Family.

New Zealand

In the First Labour Government from 1935 the Hon. Mark Fagan was a "Minister without Portfolio" from 1935 to 1939, as was the Hon. David Wilson from 1939 to 1949. They were appointed to the upper house and made a "minister without portfolio" to add them to the cabinet although neither were elected to a seat in Parliament.

In the Third National Government, Keith Holyoake was made a Minister of State 1975-77 after he had retired as party leader, and in the Fourth National Government Robin Gray was made a Minister of State 1993-96 after he had retired as Speaker (though he was also Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs). Both appointments were considered sinecures to avoid their return as 'backbenchers'.

Serbia

From 2007 to 2008, Dragan Đilas was a "minister without portfolio" in charge of the National Investment Plan.

Republic of China (Taiwan)

In the Executive Yuan of the Republic of China there are several such ministers, under the title of Commissioners of the Executive Yuan (政務委員), at one time:

One of these posts is typically reserved for the chairperson of the important Council for Economic Development (經濟建設委員會), who is usually considered a cabinet member but not officially so, and so requires the post to have the actual powers of a cabinet member.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, it is often a Cabinet position, and is sometimes used to get people such as the Chairman of the Conservative Party or the Labour Party Chairman into cabinet meetings (if so they hold the title of "Party Chairman"). The sinecure positions of Lord Privy Seal and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster can also be used for equivalent effect.

See also

References

External links

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