Her Majesty's Government, in spite of its name, derives its authority and power from its party representation in Parliament. It is so because when a party wins a majority of votes in parliament it forms the Government, Her Majesty's Government. Her Majesty's Government governs in the name of the Queen and is responsible for the administration of national affairs. The Prime Minister is appointed by the Crown but automatically it is the leader of the party which wins a majority. And all other ministers are appointed by the Crown on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. The number of ministers in the Government may vary from 80 to 100, all the ministers are members of either of the two Houses but the majority of ministers are members of the House of Commons. Naturally, the Prime Minister cannot belong to the House of Lords.
The central institution, the core of the British Government is the Cabinet. The Cabinet is composed of about 20 ministers personally selected by the Prime Minister, who is the directing head and force of the Cabinet as well as of the whole government. Cabinet-making is a very important part of a Prime Minister's job and a Cabinet remains very much the expression of Prime Minister's personality. He not only appoints ministers but can require their resignation. He can replace a minister or break up the entire Cabinet. He controls the agenda of business to be dealt with at Cabinet meetings. He can dissolve the House of Commons and thus bring about a General Election at any time.
Prime Minister's can introduce peers, and if necessary make peers. He can bring in ballast and he can - up to a point - demote his rivals.
In the middle of the 19th century the doctrine of collective responsibility was accepted. That means that the policy of ministers must be consistent (in agreement) with the policy of the Government as a whole. Once the Government policy on a particular matter has been decided each minister is expected to support it. If he cannot agree with it or if he lost the confidence of the majority of his colleagues a Cabinet minister has no choice but to resign.
The Cabinet is the most powerful and strongly rooted organ of government in Britain. The powers of the Cabinet are immensely large in every sphere of government. The Cabinet Ministers introduce legislation, control finance, arrange the time-table of the House of Parliament, conduct foreign affairs, control the colonies, exercise supervision over every department of administration.
The Cabinet is constitutionally responsible to Parliament and can be forced to resign but in practice it is the Cabinet that dominates Parliament. Its ministers are front-benchers in Parliament. The final decision on all the questions of policy rests with the Cabinet. Every matter of first class importance goes before the Cabinet for final decision or approval.
According to constitution, power should rest where the public can see it, but in practice Britain is governed by Cabinet, by a largely hidden system named «elective dictatorship». Even legislation, the overriding function of Parliament, is done by the government and its supporters, because any government enjoys a majority in the House.
There is a tendency to develop an Inner Cabinet, consisting of the Prime Minister and three or four senior ministers in whom he has exceptional confidence, for the daily work and conduct of the most important business.
The party out of power elects by secret ballot its Leader, Deputy Leader, Chief Whip and twelve members who together form the «Shadow Cabinet». Its aim is to watch closely and criticise Government and if possible to supplant the party in power.
The seat of government is Whitehall, its hub being Downing Street 10, a short walk from Parliament.