Individual Ministerial Responsibility

Individual Ministerial Responsibility (IMR) is a concept that you are required to know about for Unit 2. IMR is a constitutional convention that holds that Ministers are responsible for their personal conduct and that of their departments and if that conduct falls short then they are required to resign their office.

This concept was once again brought into the news in recent weeks by the conduct of former Culture Secretary Maria Miller.

At the heart of Maria Miller’s alleged misconduct were a series of mortgage payments claimed in the wake of the expenses scandal. Labour allege that although a Parliamentary commission cleared Maria Miller of having to repay the full £90,000 morally she was in the wrong.

It took Maria Miller several days to ‘fall on her sword’ despite the fact that she had received the public backing of the PM. The hostility shown towards her by grassroots Tories and the media was evident during this period. However, her role in pushing through gay marriage has alienated her from sections of the Conservative Party’s rank and file support and her involvement in pushing for press regulation in the wake of the NOTW scandal has won her few friends on Fleet Street.

Not only is this a good example of IMR in action it is also a good example of the considerations made by PMs when appointing Cabinet. Maria Miller is obviously a woman, and David Cameron’s cabinets are short of women. Unfortunately he was unable to replace her with another woman but has instead promoted Sajid Javid to the role. However it is worth noting that Sajid Javid is the first British Muslim man to serve in Cabinet and increases the ethnic diversity of the top table in British politics.

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