What Is the Role of a Cabinet Minister?

Cabinet ministers set policies and manage priorities for respective governmental departments. An energy minister makes decisions regarding the production and regulation of energy. A foreign minister hosts foreign leaders and makes official state visits to other nations on behalf of the government. Other common minister positions include: agriculture minister, defence minister, education minister, interior minister and labor minister.

Within a cabinet minister’s department are officials tasked with supporting the minister by aiding the development of policy and ensuring its implementation.

In some occasions, a cabinet minister is not placed in charge of a department or ministry and is known as a “minister without portfolio.” Some cabinet ministers lead multiple departments simultaneously, taking on the responsibility of making policy decisions for each one.

In parliamentary systems of government, cabinet ministers are commonly appointed from the elected legislature by the prime minister, usually from the majority party. However, experts from outside the legislature are also appointed to minister positions to bring their expertise to the government. In presidential systems of government, such as the United States, ministers are called “secretaries” to avoid any royalist connotations and are appointed by the president.

The word “minister” is derived from a Latin term meaning “servant” or “attendant.”