Junior minister assigned to assist a specific cabinet minister
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Minister of State is a title borne by politicians or officials in certain countries governed under a parliamentary system. In some countries a 'Minister of State' is a junior minister, who is assigned to assist a specific cabinet minister. In other countries a 'Minister of State' is a holder of a more senior position, such as a cabinet minister or even a head of government.
High government ranks
In several national traditions, the title "Minister of State" is reserved for government members of cabinet rank, often a formal distinction within it, or even its chief.
Kenya: A Minister of State generically refers to a more senior minister by virtue of the revenue power, or security implications of their ministry. For instance, ministries housed under the Office of the President, Office of the Deputy President and Office of the Prime Minister are titled as "Ministries of State for". Actual examples include Ministry of State for Internal Security and Provincial Administration; Ministry of State for Immigration; and Ministry of State for Public Service.
France: Under the Fifth Republic, Minister of State (Ministre d'État in French) is an honorific title bestowed upon nomination as a Minister. Ministres d'État, in the protocol, rank after the Prime Minister and before the other Ministers but enjoy no other specific prerogatives. Initially, the title of Ministres d'État didn't explicitly include a portfolio (a practice common under previous regimes), although in time both the title and a specific portfolio have since normally been conferred together. As under previous regimes, a series of Ministres d'État in the same cabinet may also reflect a balance between the different political trends in the ruling party (or within the ruling coalition). A Ministre d'État is not to be confused with a Secretary of State (Secrétaire d'État), a Junior minister assisting a Minister and who may only attend cabinet meeting if the topic discussed touches his responsibilities. Former Ministres d'État include former French PresidentNicolas Sarkozy.
Luxembourg: Minister of State (French: Ministre d'État; Luxembourgish and German: Staatsminister) is an additional title borne by the Prime Minister. Unlike the title 'Prime Minister' (French: Premier ministre; Luxembourgish: Premier; German: Premierminister), which was instituted only in 1989, that of Minister of State has been held by the head of government since 1848. As Minister of State, his role is to control and coordinate the activities of the other Ministers.
United Kingdom: Normally a mid-level government role (see next section) but Lord Beaverbrook was nominally Minister of State from 1 May 1941 to 29 June 1941 while a member of the war cabinet. Senior Ministers of State can be invited to attend cabinet on a regular basis at the Prime Minister's discretion, though they are not technically full members.
Minor government ranks
In various nations, especially in former members of the British Empire, "Minister of State" is a junior ministerial rank, often subordinated to a cabinet member.
India: A Minister of State is a junior minister in the Council of Ministers in the Union Government who may assist a cabinet minister or have independent charge of a ministry. The Constitution of India restricts the number of ministers of state in the federal government. A Minister of State with independent charge is a minister without an overseeing Cabinet Minister in the State or Union Government of India. He himself is in charge of his ministry, unlike Minister of State who is also a Minister but assists a cabinet minister. Moreover, such ministers can take part in cabinet meetings on important issues unlike Ministers of state who does not take any part in any cabinet meetings.
Ireland: A Minister of State is junior to a Minister of a Department of State (portfolio minister) and of similar standing to a Parliamentary Secretary.
Nigeria: A Minister of State is a junior Minister in the Nigerian Cabinet and is normally the principal deputy or one of the deputies to the Minister in a Federal Ministry. The Minister of State may in some cases be the head of a special department in the President's Office. By law, both senior Ministers and Ministers of State are regarded as Ministers of the Government of the Federation.
Pakistan: Like in other former British colonies, a Minister of State in Pakistan is a junior Minister in the national Government who may assist a cabinet minister or have independent charge of a ministry.
Singapore: Ministers of State and Senior Ministers of State are members of the executive branch of the Government of Singapore, senior in rank to Parliamentary Secretaries and Senior Parliamentary Secretaries, but junior to full Cabinet Ministers.
Australia: Section 64 of the Commonwealth constitution empowers the Governor-General, as the Queen's representative, to appoint "the Queen's Ministers of State for the Commonwealth [of Australia]" as "officers to administer such departments of State of the Commonwealth as the Governor‑General in Council may establish". The Ministers of State Act 1952 defines the number of ministers only distinguishes between ministers and parliamentary secretaries (now known as assistant ministers). However, in practice ministers of state are divided into the Cabinet and the outer ministry. The only ministerial portfolio to have the term "minister of state" in the title is Special Minister of State.
In the Netherlands (Minister van Staat in Dutch) and Belgium (also Ministre d'État in French), Ministers of State is a title of honour awarded formally by the Monarch, but on the initiative of the government. It is given on a personal basis, for life rather than for a specified period. The title is granted for exceptional merits, generally to senior politicians at the end of their party career. Ministers of state are often former cabinet members or party leaders. Ministers of State advise the Sovereign in delicate situations, with moral authority but without formal competence.
In Belgium they are entitled to a seat, alongside the members of the government in power, in the Crown Council; to date the Crown Council has been convened on only five occasions, the first being in 1870 for the Franco-Prussian War, and the latest in 1960 in connection with the independence of the Belgian Congo. Apart from that, the only privileges of being a "minister of state" are protocollary precedence on state occasions and a ministerial car registration number. De facto, appointments tend to respect the almost obsessional balances between the Flemish and French-speaking communities as well as between the 'ministeriable' political families: mainly Christian-democrats, Socialists, Liberals, also (moderate) Nationalists, occasionally an Ecologist). Other former careers include those of Étienne Davignon (European Commissioner) and Luc Coene (prime-ministerial Kabinetschef, roughly Chief of staff). In January 2006 the number of ministers of state reached 51 with Johan Vande Lanotte, shortly after he laid down his portfolio and title of Vice-Prime Minister to head the Flemish Socialist SP.A party. After formateur Yves Leterme returned his commission in August 2007, King Albert II consulted 13 Ministers of State individually, without convening the crown council as such.
In both countries, junior ministers are called State Secretary (staatssecretaris or secrétaire d'état), similarly to France. Some State Secretaries may, in specific circumstances, style themselves as Minister (not Minister of State) when visiting a foreign country.
To bestow a sinecure — the role has been given to senior figures who did not occupy positions of leadership, but who were held in high esteem or who were wanted in Cabinet. For example, a former Prime Minister might be appointed Minister of State as an "elder statesman" — this was the purpose for which New Zealand Prime Minister Rob Muldoon originally created the position in 1975.
To create a sort of junior minister — using this office, politicians can be appointed to associate roles without having a substantive ministerial role of their own. There is no formal rank of "assistant minister" or "deputy minister" in New Zealand, but if someone is a full minister, they can be assigned to an associate role helping a different full minister. Someone appointed Minister of State is technically a full minister and can thus be assigned associate roles, thereby creating a type of minister whose only effective authority is as an associate minister.
In France during the Ancien Régime and Bourbon Restoration, the title "Ministre d'État" had a specific designation. The title first appeared under Louis XIII. The "ministres d'État", appointed by lettres patentes, attended meetings of the Conseil du Roi (which would later become the Conseil d'État). From 1661 on — at the start of Louis XIV's "personal reign" — the king called whomever he wished to his Council; invitations were only good for one session and needed to be renewed as long as the individual retained the king's confidence. However, having attended one session of the Council gave the person the right to be called "ministre d'État" for life, and also gave him the right to an annual life pension of roughly 20,000 livres. There were few "ministres d'État" at Council meetings (between three or four during the reign of Louis XIV); they also attended the "Conseil des Dépêches" (the "Council of Messages", concerning notices and administrative reports from the provinces).
Suppressed during the French Revolution, the title "ministre d'État" reappeared during the Bourbon Restoration as essentially an honorary title given (not systematically) to Ministers after their demission or their departure from office; refusal on behalf of the King to award this title to a demissioned Minister was seen as an affront.
From 28 January 1944, the last two British Ministers Resident in the Middle East, concerned with former British protectorateEgypt, were styled Ministers of State in the Middle East.