The Cabinet Office supports the Prime Minister and the Cabinet in the organisation and coordination of government business. This includes the structuring of government departments and agencies, allocation of ministerial responsibilities, policy development and the legislative programme in Parliament.
The Prime Minister is the head of the UK Government and is ultimately responsible for the policy and decisions of the Government.
As head of the UK Government the Prime Minister also oversees the operation of the Civil Service and government agencies, appoints members of the Cabinet, and is the principal government figure in the House of Commons.
The new Prime Minister, the Rt Hon David Cameron MP, came to office after the General Election held on 6 May 2010.
On a few occasions over the past 100 years, various Cabinet Ministers have held the title of Deputy Prime Minister. The first Deputy Prime Minister was Clement Attlee who held the title from 1942 to 1945.
Winston Churchill appointed Attlee during the Second World War to relieve himself of domestic matters. Other holders have included R A (Rab) Butler from 1962 to 1963, William (Lord) Whitelaw from 1979 to 1988, and Michael Heseltine from 1995 to 1997.
The responsibilities of Deputy Prime Ministers have varied over the years. Rab Butler, for example,was Minister in charge of the Central African Office and Michael Heseltine was responsible for the Cabinet Office.
The present Deputy Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Nick Clegg MP, was appointed May 2010, with special responsibility for political and constitutional reform.
The Cabinet is the committee at the centre of the British political system and is the supreme decision-making body in government.
Every Tuesday during Parliament, Secretaries of State from all departments and some other ministers meet in the Cabinet room in Downing Street to discuss the big issues of the day. Meetings are currently attended by 22 paid ministers and one unpaid minister appointed to Cabinet, and six other invited ministers and peers.
Government Cabinets have met in the same room since 1856, when it was called the Council Chamber.
The Prime Minister chairs the meetings, selects its members, and also recommends their appointment as ministers by the Monarch. The Secretary of the Cabinet is responsible for preparing records of its discussions and decisions.
The Cabinet Secretariat's overarching aim is to ensure that the business of government is conducted in a timely and efficient way and that proper collective consideration takes place when it is needed before policy decisions are taken.
It is made up of a number of individual secretariats providing support to Cabinet and its committees on specific issues.
The Cabinet Secretariat is located within the Cabinet Office and reports to the Prime Minister and ministers who chair committees. The head of the Secretariat is the Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell.
Cabinet and Cabinet Committees are groups of Ministers that can take collective decisions that are binding across Government. The Cabinet is the supreme decision-making body in government, dealing with the big issues of the day and the Government’s overall strategy. Cabinet Committees reduce the burden on Cabinet by enabling collective decisions to be taken by a smaller group of Ministers. The composition and terms of reference of Coalition Cabinet Committees are a matter for the Prime Minister, in consultation with the Deputy Prime Minister.
Each Committee has a Chair from one Party and a Deputy Chair from the other Party. The Chair and Deputy Chair have the right to remit an issue to the Coalition Committee if it affects the operation of the Coalition and cannot be resolved by the originating Committee. The use of this right will be kept to a minimum.
The Coalition Agreement sets out a programme for partnership government over the next five years. These plans are inspired by the values of freedom, fairness and responsibility, and a shared desire to work in the national interest.
The agreement can deliver a radical reforming government, a stronger society, a smaller state and power and responsibility in the hands of every citizen.