This chapter concerns one of the central issues of the constitution, namely the accountability of the executive branch of government. We shall be concerned with conventions more than with law in the strict sense. The structure and powers of the central executive depend on powers being channelled from Parliament and the Crown, usually to ministers, and upon the general principle, which combines law and convention, that ministers can exercise power through civil servants. The Ministerial Code (2015) issued by the Cabinet Office provides a general framework for the conduct of ministers. The Code is not legally binding and so cannot be enforced by the courts (R (Hemmings) v Prime Minister  EWHC 293 (Admin)). Nor is it a convention, although it contains statements of conventions. It is ultimately enforced only by the prime minister through his power to appoint and dismiss ministers. There are few legal controls over the organisation of government departments or the relationship between ministers, civil servants and Parliament. A major problem is the absence of clear rules for regulating the relationship between individual government departments. The size and structure of the executive has not normally been regarded as a matter of constitutional significance, although it is of course central to the role of government. The most important matters are governed by convention. The Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 has finally given statutory effect to the basic principles of the civil service but without changes of substance. Some general principles are published in the Ministerial Code and the Civil Service Code (2015). Unlike the Ministerial Code, the Civil Service Code is arguably statutory and may therefore be enforceable in the courts.
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