British government departments

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In Britain, Her Majesty's Government exercises executive authority through a number of specialised departments, each led by a minister. There are two kinds of departments, ministerial departments and non-ministerial departments. Ministerial departments are led by a senior government minister who attends the cabinet, usually termed a "secretary of state". Non-ministerial departments are led by senior civil servants. Departments serve to implement government policy that has been approved by Parliament.[1]

Types of departments

As mentioned above, there are two types of government departments.

Ministerial departments are led politically by a government minister, normally a member of the cabinet and cover matters that require direct political oversight. For most departments, the government minister in question is known as a secretary of state. He or she is generally supported by a team of junior ministers. The administrative management of a department is led by a senior civil servant, known as a permanent secretary. Subordinate to these ministerial departments are executive agencies. An executive agency has a degree of autonomy to perform an operational function and report to one or more specific government departments, which will set the funding and strategic policy for the agency. At "arm's length" from a parent or sponsor department there can be a number of non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs), known colloquially as quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations (Quangos).

Non-ministerial departments generally cover matters for which direct political oversight is judged unnecessary or inappropriate. They are headed by senior civil servants. Some fulfil a regulatory or inspection function, and their status is therefore intended to protect them from political interference. Some are headed by Permanent Secretaries or Second Permanent Secretaries.

List of British government departments

Ministerial departments

Non-ministerial departments

List of executive agencies reporting to each department of the British government

See also


  1. "How government works". British Government. Retrieved 12 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links