Minister without portfolio
A minister without portfolio is either a government minister with no specific responsibilities or a minister who does not head a particular ministry. The sinecure is particularly common in countries ruled by coalition governments and a cabinet with decision-making authority wherein a minister without portfolio, while they may not head any particular office or ministry, may still receive a ministerial salary and has 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 of minister without portfolio (or an equivalent position) is uncommon.
Stanley Bruce was given the title of minister without portfolio when he took up his position in 1932 as the Commonwealth Minister in London. He was given the title by Lyons' Cabinet so that he could better represent the PM and his colleagues free from the limitations of a portfolio. In this case the title was a promotion and carried considerable responsibilities.
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. Suranjit Sengupta was a minister without portfolio in Sheikh Hasina's second government.
- Bozhidar Dimitrov (2009–2011)
While the minister without portfolio is seen by some as a mere sinecure appointment, it has been a role that numerous political notables have played over time, including former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, who filled the role in a Pearson cabinet in the 1960s; 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; in recent times, though, the title has fallen out of favour, and the penultimate minister without portfolio, Gilles Lamontagne, was promoted to postmaster general in 1978. The practice has continued primarily under the guise of ministers of state without responsibilities in the ministers' titles.
The position has also been filled on the federal or provincial level by experienced politicians near the end of their careers as a way of allowing them to counsel the government and take on projects without the burdens associated with administering a government department.
In January 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Jim Carr as a minister without portfolio, in addition to his role as special representative to the Prairies. Carr served as a cabinet minister until November 2019, leaving as a consequence of his diagnosis with multiple myeloma. 
Deputy Prime Ministers without portfolioEdit
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).
Anders Fogh Rasmussen appointed Bertel Haarder as 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 the Danish European Union Presidency of 2002. Haarder was considered the most experienced Danish politician on European affairs.
- Jaan Tõnisson (1918) (provisional government)
- Karl Ast (1924–1925)
- Juhan Kaarlimäe (1944)
- Johannes Sikkar (1952–1953) (in exile)
- Artur Terras (1952–1953) (in exile)
- Aksel Mark (1956–1962) (in exile)
- Arvo Horm (1956–1964) (in exile)
- Peeter Panksep (1956–1964) (in exile)
- Eduard Leetmaa (1959–1962) (in exile; appointed, but did not enter office)
- Ivar Grünthal (1962–1964) (in exile)
- Renate Kaasik (1971–1990) (in exile)
- Verner Hans Puurand (1973–1977) (in exile)
- Jaan Timusk (1973–1990) (in exile)
- Ants Pallop (1973–1992) (in exile)
- Arvo Horm (1977–1992) (in exile)
- Ivar Paljak (1985–1990) (in exile)
- Olev Olesk (1986–1990) (in exile)
- Endel Lippmaa (1990–1991) (interim government)
- Artur Kuznetsov (1990–1991) (interim government)
- Klara Hallik (1992) (interim government)
- Arvo Niitenberg (1992) (interim government)
- Jüri Luik (1992–1993)
- Peeter Olesk (1993–1994)
- Eiki Nestor (1994–1995)
- Arvo Niitenberg (1994–1995)
- Ants Leemets (1995)
- Jaak Allik (1995–1996)
- Endel Lippmaa (1995–1996)
- Tiit Kubri (1995–1997)
- Riivo Sinijärv (1996)
- Andra Veidemann (1996–1999)
- Peep Aru (1997–1999)
- Katrin Saks (1999–2003)
- Toivo Asmer (1999–2003)
- Eldar Efendijev (2002–2003)
- Paul-Eerik Rummo (2003–2007)
- Jaan Õunapuu (2003–2007)
- Urve Palo (2007–2009)
- Urmas Kruuse (2014)
- Anne Sulling (2014)
Minister without portfolio is not a common type of cabinet position, and the last minister without portfolio served in 1949. The most famous one was Juho Kusti Paasikivi, who was a part of the "Triumvirate" of Prime Minister Risto Ryti, Minister of Foreign Affairs Väinö Tanner and Paasikivi during the Winter War and the year 1940.
- Hermann Göring (1933)
- Ernst Röhm (1933)
- Rudolf Hess
- Arthur Seyss-Inquart (1939–1945)
- Hjalmar Schacht (1939–1943)
Since 1949, a Federal Minister for Special Affairs (Bundesminister für 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.
Since the inception of the state, Indonesia had ministers without portfolio, usually given the title Menteri Negara ('State Minister'). The number was not fixed, entirely depended on the behest of the President. Below is the list of ministers without portfolio in each Cabinet.
Presidential Cabinet (19 August – 14 November 1945)Edit
First Sjahrir Cabinet (11 November 1945 – 28 February 1946)Edit
- Rasjidi (on religious affairs)
Third Sjahrir Cabinet (5 October 1946 – 27 July 1947)Edit
- Hamengkubuwono IX
- Wahid Hasyim
- Wikana (on youth affairs)
- Tan Po Gwan
- Danoedirdja Setiaboedi
Sixth Development Cabinet (6 June – 1 October 1997)Edit
The cabinet was unique, with President Suharto moved the Minister of Information Harmoko to the office of State Minister of Special Affairs (Indonesian: Menteri Negara Urusan Khusus) on 6 June 1997. The Ministry of Special Affairs was dissolved on 1 October 1997, following the inauguration of next-term's parliament and the appointment of Harmoko as its speaker.
The Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 1939 allows a Minister to be a member of the Government of Ireland who does not have charge of a Department of State, such a person to be known as a "Minister without portfolio". Such a minister may be given a specific style or title. The only substantive minister without portfolio has been Frank Aiken, the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures during World War II. By the Emergency Powers Act 1939 then in force, the Minister for Defence was able to delegate some competences to him.
On a number of 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 is formally a minister without portfolio.
|Title||Govt||Minister||Appt to govt||Dept created||Dept|
|Minister for Economic Planning and Development||15th||Martin O'Donoghue||8 July 1977||13 December 1977||Department of Economic Planning and Development|
|Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform||29th||Brendan Howlin||9 March 2011||6 July 2011||Department of Public Expenditure and Reform|
|Minister for Rural and Community Development||31st||Michael Ring||14 June 2017||19 July 2017||Department of Rural and Community Development|
|Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science||32nd||Simon Harris||27 June 2020||2 August 2020||Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science|
When Helen McEntee took six months' maternity leave on 28 April 2021, her portfolio as Minister for Justice was reassigned to Heather Humphreys, in addition to Humphreys's existing portfolio as Minister for Social Protection. McEntee formally remains a member of the coalition government as minister without portfolio.
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 Governance Law passed in 2013 forbade ministers without portfolio effectively ending the practice, however in spite of some objections, after the 2015 elections this issue was revisited in the Knesset and it was allowed for the practice to resume. 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 Monti Cabinet had six ministers without portfolio:
- Dino Piero Giarda (Relations with Parliament)
- Fabrizio Barca (Territorial cohesion)
- Piero Gnudi (Regional affairs, Tourism and Sport)
- Enzo Moavero Milanesi (European affairs)
- Andrea Riccardi (Integration and International cooperation)
- Filippo Patroni Griffi (Public Administration and Law simplification)
The Letta Cabinet had eight ministers without portfolio:
- Josefa Idem (Equal opportunities, Sport and Youth policy; resigned in June)
- Cécile Kyenge (Integration and Youth Policy)
- Giampiero D'Alia (Public Administration)
- Dario Franceschini (Relations with Parliament)
- Enzo Moavero Milanesi (European affairs)
- Graziano Delrio (Regional affairs and Sport)
- Carlo Triglia (Territorial cohesion)
- Gaetano Quagliariello (Constitutional reforms)
The Renzi Cabinet had three ministers without portfolio:
As of 2017, ministers without portfolio (министер без ресор) are:
- Carmelo Abela (2020–)
- Joe Mizzi (1996–1998)
- Konrad Mizzi (2016–2017) On April 28, 2016, following the appearance of his name in the Panama Papers leaks, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced in a press conference at the Auberge de Castille that Konrad Mizzi was to be removed from the position of Health and Energy Minister. Mizzi would however retain the title of minister without portfolio, working within the Office of the Prime Minister.
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 or 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 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 André Rouvoet, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Youth and Family.
The third Rutte cabinet has four ministers without portfolio: Sigrid Kaag (Development Cooperation), Sander Dekker (Legal Protection), Martin van Rijn (Medical Care), and Arie Slob (Primary and Secondary Education and Media).
In the First Labour Government from 1935 Mark Fagan was a "minister without portfolio" from 1935 to 1939, as was 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 was replaced as Speaker (though he was also Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs). Both appointments were considered sinecures to avoid their return as 'backbenchers'.
The following were appointed to the Executive Council as ministers without portfolio.
|Name||Portrait||Term of Office||Prime Minister|
|James Carroll||16 March 1892||20 February 1896||Ballance|
|Alfred Cadman||21 December 1899||9 May 1901|
|William Montgomery||19 July 1893||7 November 1895|
|Mahuta Tāwhiao||22 May 1903||6 August 1906|
|Āpirana Ngata||7 January 1909||28 March 1912||Ward|
|Peter Buck||28 March 1912||10 July 1912||Mackenzie|
|Thomas Buxton||28 March 1912||10 July 1912|
|Māui Pōmare||10 July 1912||3 May 1916||Massey|
|William Fraser||27 July 1920||16 July 1923†|
|David Guthrie||25 June 1924||31 March 1927†|
|Heaton Rhodes||18 January 1926||10 December 1928|
|Francis Bell||24 May 1926||25 August 1928|
|Sir Joseph Ward||28 May 1930||8 July 1930†||Forbes|
|Robert Masters||20 August 1930||22 September 1931|
|Mark Fagan||6 December 1935||18 July 1939||Savage|
|David Wilson||18 November 1939||30 May 1940|
|Paraire Karaka Paikea||21 January 1941||6 May 1943†|
|Eruera Tirikatene||26 May 1943||13 December 1949|
|Adam Hamilton||16 July 1940||5 October 1942|
|Gordon Coates||16 July 1940||5 October 1942|
|William Polson||15 March 1950||12 December 1950||Holland|
|Sidney Holland||20 September 1957||12 December 1957||Holyoake|
|David Seath||24 January 1962||20 December 1963|
|Hugh Watt||13 March 1975||12 December 1975||Rowling|
From 2009 to 2013 Karl Eirik Schjøtt-Pedersen (Labour) was a Minister without Portfolio and Chief of Staff in the Prime Ministers Office, where his job was to co-ordinate within government.
Following the Carnation Revolution, several politicians were made ministers without portfolio:
- Álvaro Cunhal (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th provisional government)
- Ernesto Melo Antunes (2nd, 3rd provisional government)
- Francisco Pereira de Moura (1st, 4th provisional government)
- Francisco Sá Carneiro (1st provisional government)
- Joaquim Magalhães Mota (2nd, 3rd, 4th provisional government)
- Jorge Campinos (1st constitutional government)
- Mário Soares (4th provisional government)
- Vítor Alves (2nd, 3rd provisional government)
After the 1st Constitutional Government (1976–1978), there haven't been any appointments of ministers without portfolio.
A similar but not sinecural cabinet position, that of Minister Adjunct (ministro adjunto), who does not head a particular ministry but is instead tasked with the general interministerial measures found in the government programme, has been created in some Portuguese governments.
Since 2015, the cabinet list has included a minister without portfolio:
The Vice President of the United States is a member of the Cabinet but heads no department. As such, the Vice President may be assigned to policy areas of the President's choosing such as foreign diplomacy (Richard Nixon), space programs (Lyndon B. Johnson) or public health (Mike Pence). Prior to the mid-19th century, the Vice President's position as President of the Senate caused the office to be seen as primarily legislative in nature, and as such they were not assigned to deal with public policy.
An individual who has 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, Arthur Burns, and Ivanka Trump.
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The Minister for Economic Planning and Development is a member of the Government not having charge of a Department of State, who is therefore, under section 4 (2) of the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 1939 a Minister without portfolio. His title is not derived from the title of a Department of which he is head, because it does not exist, but it is a title that has been assigned to him by the Government pursuant to section 4 (3) of the 1939 Act.
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he was a minister without portfolio from 1963 to 1965
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- List of Canadian Ministers Without Portfolio and Ministers of State (Parliament of Canada Website)
- Taiwanese Ministers Without Portfolio