Press release

New Cabinet Manual to be ultimate user’s guide to government

The ultimate user’s guide to government, setting out how central government works, is published today, 24 October 2011.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The ultimate user’s guide to government, setting out how central government works, is published today by the Prime Minister. Its publication was formally announced in a written ministerial statement.

The Cabinet Manual will for the first time provide a guide to the laws, conventions and rules on the operation of government. The manual is designed primarily as a user’s guide but has the potential to become a useful reference tool for all those with an interest in the workings of government.

The Prime Minister David Cameron said:

It is essential that people should be able to see what their government does and have the opportunity to scrutinise it. The Cabinet Manual will help this to happen by further opening up politics and ensuring the government is more accountable. Above all, it provides a greater insight into how government works.

Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell said:

Good government is crucial to us all; it impacts on everybody’s lives and touches on everything we do. Yet up until now there has been no obvious reference tool for all those who work in the centre of government.

The Cabinet Manual changes that. For first time everyone in government and all those with an interest in its workings will have a reference guide immediately to hand. This is not a written constitution, nor is it an attempt to rewrite the rules of Parliament - but rather an attempt to provide a clear and thorough guide to government.

The Manual brings together a whole range of sources in one place – including the relevant parts of the ministerial code, internal government procedures, common law and key legislation.

Although its focus is very much on the working of central government it also covers government’s relations with other bodies so there are chapters on Parliament, the Judiciary, devolved administrations and local government, reflecting the dynamic nature of British democracy.

Notes to editors

  1. The Cabinet Manual is published on the Cabinet Office website. Its publication was announced in a written ministerial statement by the Prime Minister.
  2. A draft version was published in December 2010 for consultation. The responses to that consultation have been reflected in the final version and a summary of the comments received in response to the draft version.
  3. The government has also published its response to the reports by the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, the Public Administration Select Committee and the House of Lords Constitution Committee 
Published 24 October 2011