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Minister without portfolio

A minister without portfolio is either a government minister with no specific responsibilities or a minister that does not head a particular ministry. The sinecure position is particularly common in countries ruled by coalition governments and a cabinet with decision making authority wherein a minister without portfolio, while he or she may not head any particular office or ministry, does have the right to cast a vote in cabinet decisions. In some countries where the executive branch is not composed of a coalition of parties and, more often, in countries with purely presidential systems of government, such as the United States, the position (or an equivalent position) of minister without portfolio is uncommon.




Bangladesh appoints ministers without portfolio during cabinet reshuffles or fresh appointments. Ministers are not usually appointed without portfolio as a coalition negotiation - all long run ministers end up with a portfolio.

Current ministers without portfolio, appointed on 28 November 2011,[1] are:



While Minister without Portfolio is seen by some as a mere patronage appointment, it has been a role that numerous political notables have played over time, including former Prime Minister Jean Chr tien, who filled the role in a Pearson cabinet in the 60s; John Turner also "kept a seat warm" in a Pearson cabinet. Notable Conservatives who filled the role include R. B. Bennett, and Arthur Meighen; however, Meighen served this role after he had been prime minister.

The title of Minister without Portfolio has been used off and on; however, in recent times the title has fallen out of favour, and the last minister without portfolio, Gilles Lamontagne, was promoted to postmaster general in 1978. The practice has continued under the guise of ministers of state without responsibilities in the ministers' title, with Jay Hill currently holding such a position (while concurrently serving as Chief Government Whip).


Three "control ministers" served as Ministers without Portfolio during World War I.

After the Liberation of Denmark in May 1945, the first Danish cabinet included four Ministers without Portfolio. Among these were Danish ambassador to the U.S. Henrik Kauffmann who had conducted his own foreign policy throughout the war and refused to follow orders from Copenhagen as long as Denmark remained occupied by a foreign power. Kauffmann served in this capacity from 12 May to 7 November 1945. The three other holders of this title had joined the cabinet a few days before; Aksel Larsen (Communist Party of Denmark), Kr. Juul Christensen (Danish Unity) and Frode Jakobsen (Social Democrats).

Lise stergaard held a position as Minister without Portfolio with special attention to Foreign Policy Issues in Anker J rgensen's cabinet from 26 February 1977 to 28 February 1980.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen appointed Bertel Haarder to Minister without Portfolio but effectively Minister for European Affairs. Haarder served in this capacity from 27 November 2001 to 18 February 2005. The reason for appointing a minister without a ministry was due to the Danish European Union Presidency of 2002 and Haarder was considered the most experienced Danish politician on European Affairs.


Since 1949, a Federal Minister for Special Affairs (Bundesminister f r besondere Aufgaben) is a member of the Federal Government that does not have charge of a Federal Ministry, although some have simultaneously been Chief of the Federal Chancellor's Office.




The Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act, 1939 (Section 4) allows a member of the Government of Ireland not to have charge of a Department of State; such a person is referred to as a "Minister without portfolio" ([2]). Such a minister may nevertheless be given a specific title. The only substantive minster without portfolio has been Frank Aiken, the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures during World War II.[3] By the Emergency Powers Act 1939 then in force, the Minister for Defence was able to delegate some competences to him.[4][5] Such delegation is now done instead with Ministers of State: "junior ministers" who are not members of the government. Junior ministers can be given a right to sit at cabinet; they are often known colloquially as "super-juniors." This allows the Government to circumvent the Constitutional limit on the number of Senior Ministers.

On several occasions a minister has been appointed to an incoming government with the title of a new Department of State. Between the date of appointment and the date of creation of the department, such a minister was technically a minister without portfolio.[6] Examples include:


It is common practice in Israel to appoint ministers without portfolio as part of the coalition negotiations. All cabinets in recent years have had at least some such appointment. The full alphabetical list of Ministers without Portfolio since 1949 is:


In the Italian government, Ministers without Portfolio are nominated by the President of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister) and formally appointed by the President of the Republic to lead particular departments directly under the Presidency (or Presidium) of the Council of Ministers. Unlike the office of State Undersecretary to the Presidency, who fulfils duties in the Prime Minister's remit, Ministers without Portfolio enjoy the full status of ministers but do not lead an independent ministry. Departments on equalities, European affairs and relations with Regions, for example, are usually led by ministers without portfolio.

The last Berlusconi IV Cabinet has had 11 ministers without portfolio:

The current Monti Cabinet has 5 ministers without portfolio:


Rijlal Yadav.[14]


A Minister without Portfolio in the Netherlands is a minister that does not head a specific ministry, but assumes the same power and responsibilities as a minister that does. The minister is responsible for a specific part of another minister's policy field. In that sense, a minister without portfolio is comparable to a staatssecretaris (state secretary/junior minister) in Dutch politics, who also falls under another ministry and is responsible for a specific part of that minister's policy field. However, one distinct difference is the fact that a minister without portfolio is a member of the council of ministers and can vote in it, whereas a state secretary is not. The minister for development cooperation has always been a minister without portfolio.

In the second Balkenende cabinet there were three ministers without portfolio: Agnes van Ardenne (Development Cooperation), Rita Verdonk (Integration and Immigration) and Alexander Pechtold (Government Reform and Kingdom Relations).

In the fourth Balkenende cabinet there were three ministers without portfolio: Eberhard van der Laan (Housing, Neighbourhoods and Integration), Bert Koenders (Development Cooperation) and Andr Rouvoet, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Youth and Family.

New Zealand

In the First Labour Government from 1935 the Hon. Mark Fagan was a "Minister without Portfolio" from 1935 to 1939, as was the Hon. David Wilson from 1939 to 1949. They were appointed to the upper house and made a "minister without portfolio" to add them to the cabinet although neither were elected to a seat in Parliament.

In the Third National Government, Keith Holyoake was made a Minister of State 1975-77 after he had retired as party leader, and in the Fourth National Government Robin Gray was made a Minister of State 1993-96 after he had retired as Speaker (though he was also Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs). Both appointments were considered sinecures to avoid their return as 'backbenchers'.


From 2009 Karl Eirik Schj tt-Pedersen (Labour) has been Minister without Portfolio and Chief of Staff in the Prime Ministers Office, where his job is to co-ordinate within government.


During the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines, then-Senate President Manuel Roxas was appointed Minister without Portfolio by the Japanese Government.


From 2007 to 2008, Dragan ilas was a "minister without portfolio" in charge of the National Investment Plan.

Republic of China (Taiwan)

In the Executive Yuan of the Republic of China there are several such ministers, at one time. Currently, the ROC's ministers without portfolio are:[15]

  • Ovid Tzeng ( )
  • Chang Jin-fu ( )
  • Kao Su-po ( ), also serving as Minister of Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs
  • Fan Liang-shiow ( ), also serving as Minster of Public Construction Commission
  • James Cherng-Tay Hsueh ( ), also serving as Governor of Fujian Province
  • Liang Chi-yuan ( )
  • Lin Junq-tzer ( ), also serving as Governor of Taiwan Province

One of these posts is typically, but not always, reserved for the chairperson of the important Council for Economic Planning and Development, who is usually considered a cabinet member but not officially so, and so requires the post to have the actual powers of a cabinet member.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, it is often a Cabinet position, and is sometimes used to get people such as the Chairman of the Conservative Party or the Labour Party Chairman into cabinet meetings (if so, they hold the title of "Party Chairman"). The sinecure positions of Lord Privy Seal and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster can also be used for equivalent effect.

United States

In the United States, an individual who have great influence on government affairs without holding formal office might be described as a "minister without portfolio". Such an appellation is completely unofficial (possibly intended jokingly or disparagingly) and merely serves to underscore the extent of the individual's already-existing influence; it does not grant any new influence or power. Examples include Bernard Baruch[16] and Arthur Burns.[17]


External links

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