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Solomon Islands Cabinet Handbook 2005

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Solomon Islands Cabinet Handbook 2005





Department of Prime and Cabinet

January 2005




The Cabinet Handbook contains the principles and conventions by which the Cabinet system operates. It also clarifies the procedures necessary to ensure that the Cabinet complies with the role set out for it in the Solomon Islands Independent Order 1978 No. 783.

The processes outlined here will enable the Cabinet to fulfill the policy development role assigned to it in a consistent, coordinated, and informed manner and will assist Ministers in meeting their individual and collective responsibilities. It will also serve as a guide to those public servants whose role it is to implement and follow-up the decisions of Cabinet.

This Handbook and its companions The Permanent Secretary’s Handbook, The Ministerial Handbook, The Parliamentary Handbook and The Legislative Handbook will be revised when necessary to reflect changing technological and other needs over time.

I ask that ministers and officials ensure adherence to the principles and procedures outlined in the Handbook. The Secretary to Cabinet and the Cabinet Office staff are available to advise and assist. Permanent Secretaries in each department are also able to advise on procedures and will ensure that departmental staff are familiar with the contents of the Drafter’s Guide.

(Hon. Sir Allan Kemakeza, MP)

Prime Minister



Elements of the Cabinet system
Role of the Chairman of the Parliamentary Caucus
Role of the Cabinet Office


Collective responsibility
Cabinet confidentiality
Ministerial responsibility for proposals
Implementation and follow-up
Memoranda involving legislation
Declaration of interests
Custody of Cabinet documents
Caretaker conventions

Programme of meetings
Notification of meetings
Attendance of ministers
Cabinet officials
Attendance of officials 


Cabinet documents
Need for Cabinet consideration
Ten-day ministerial consideration period
Preparation of Cabinet submissions and memoranda
‘Seven day rule’ for submissions and memoranda
Joint submissions
Submissions prepared by one Minister in consultation with others
Handling of business without submission
Cabinet conclusions and minutes
Circulation of conclusions to departments
Conclusions requiring further action before announcement


Purposes of consultation
Co-ordination comments - the basic consultation requirements

Legislation Handbook
Who should be consulted?



Definition of Cabinet documents
Classification of Cabinet documents
Handling procedures
Recording access to Cabinet documents
Copying of Cabinet documents
Quoting from Cabinet minutes
Responsibilities of Ministers regarding access
Responsibilities of departmental secretaries regarding access
Electronic systems and transmittal of Cabinet material
Access to Cabinet documents by courts and investigatory bodies
Access by agencies and authorities
Destruction of Cabinet documents
Access to Cabinet documents of previous governments 


Caretaker conventions



The Role of the Secretary of Cabinet


Committees of Cabinet

Drafter’s Guide



Elements of the Cabinet system

1.1       The authority of the Cabinet is defined in sections 35 and 36 of the Solomon Islands Independent Order 1978 No.783. It is for the government of the day, and, in particular, the Prime Minister, to determine the shape and structure of the Cabinet system and how it is to operate.

1.2       The Ministry, the Cabinet and Cabinet committees are all elements of the Cabinet system. The first duty of Ministers is to play a full part in reaching decisions of policy matters which only the Cabinet can take; and in discharging these functions all Ministers are of equal standing. This collective ‘Cabinet’ responsibility is one of the fundamental principles on which the Constitution is based.

1.3       The Cabinet itself is the apex of executive government. Meeting regularly, it sets the broad directions of government, takes the most important decisions facing a government and resolves potential conflicts within government. The outcome of some of the Cabinet’s deliberations require action by the Governor-General, ministers or holders of statutory office to be put into effect.

1.4       The Cabinet is the principal instrument of policy in, and for, the Solomon Islands being the body charged with collective responsibility to the Parliament for the matters to which the executive authority of the political government extends, exercised through advice to the Governor General and through responsibility for the conduct of the business of government in ministries. The Prime Minister informs the Governor General in the formulation of policy and in the exercise of all powers conferred on him under the Constitution or any other law, and acts in accordance with the Cabinet advice.

1.5       Some work of the Cabinet sensibly falls to be dealt with by its committees. Committees serve a useful purpose in dealing with the highly sensitive, for example revenue or security matters; the relatively routine, for example a government’s weekly parliamentary programme; and business that is labour intensive or requiring detailed consideration by a smaller group of ministers, for example the expenditure review that takes place before the annual budget or oversight of the Government’s initiatives in relation to a sustainable environment.

1.6       The Prime Minister may establish a number of standing committees of the Cabinet (for example, legislative and development priorities, expenditure review, national security, parliamentary business). Additional committees, including ad hoc committees, may be set up from time to time for particular purposes, usually for a defined duration. Details of the membership of committees, which change over time, are available from the Cabinet Office.

Role of the Chairman of the Parliamentary Caucus

1.7       The Prime Minister may appoint a Member of Parliament to be the Chairman of the Parliamentary Caucus. Among other roles, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Caucus:

(a)    attends Cabinet meetings at the Prime Minister’s request and has a primary role of alerting the Prime Minister to any possible, significant delays in the implementation of matters agreed by the Cabinet;

(b)    represents the Prime Minister on Committees of Cabinet as required; and

(c)     performs the role of the Government Whip when the House is in session.

Role of the Cabinet Office

1.8       The head of the Cabinet Office (TCO) is the Secretary to Cabinet who is accountable directly to the Prime Minister as Chairman of Cabinet.

1.9       Particular responsibilities of the TCO include:

(a)    providing advice on matters being considered by Cabinet as well as on strategic policy directions designed to highlight a more detailed medium to longer-term perspective on the policy agenda and outcomes of Cabinet deliberations as they relate to the implementation of the government’s policies and priorities; and

(b)    working closely with policy advisers in the Prime Minister’s Office and, where they exist, with the staff  of other Cabinet ministers to enhance the linkages between departmental and ministerial sources of advice on Cabinet related business.

1.10    The Cabinet Office is also responsible for the servicing of Cabinet and committee meetings, advising the Prime Minister, through the Secretary to Cabinet, on programming of Cabinet business, the preparation of minutes and the distribution and custody of Cabinet documents. The major documents distributed by the Cabinet Office are forward programmes of meetings, weekly notices of meetings, agendas, submissions and memoranda and conclusions.

1.11    The Cabinet Office staff provide assistance and services to ministers during meetings of Cabinet and committees.

1.13    The Cabinet Office also maintains the registry of Cabinet documents for the current government and preserves the Cabinet records of previous governments. The Cabinet Office administers access to these documents in accordance with established conventions described elsewhere in the Handbook.

1.14    Cabinet Office staff are in regular contact with ministers, providing assistance and advice concerning Cabinet documents and procedures. Contact between the Cabinet Office and departments is usually made through each department’s Permanent Secretary or officers nominated by him or her to handle Cabinet papers.

1.15    The Cabinet Office is a unit of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and is staffed by public servants who are responsible to the Permanent Secretary of the Department.



Collective responsibility

2.1       The convention of the collective responsibility of ministers for government decisions is central to the Cabinet system of government. Cabinet conclusions reflect collective decisions and are binding on Cabinet ministers as government policy both outside the Cabinet Room and within.

2.2       All Ministers of a Cabinet are collectively responsible for policy decided in the Cabinet. An individual Minister has not only full liberty, but also, a clear duty to speak at meetings of the Cabinet for or against any proposal put before it; but once a decision is taken in Council each and every Minister must support that decision before the country and in Parliament.

2.3       All ministers are expected to give their support in public debate to decisions of the Government.

2.4     Subject to some exceptions, conclusions of committees are not operative until endorsed by Cabinet; but, again, all ministers are expected to give their support to the Government and to refrain from public comment in advance of issues being considered in Cabinet committees and in advance of their being endorsed in Cabinet.

2.5     Administrative procedures have been adopted to support the convention of collective responsibility. All ministers receive copies of the following Cabinet documents (with limited exceptions based on application of the ‘need-to-know’ principle) - submissions, memoranda, notices of meetings, agendas and programmes - so that they may be aware of the business coming to Cabinet. Cabinet ministers also receive copies of Cabinet conclusions whether or not they were present at discussions.

2.6     The exceptions referred to in the previous paragraph relate to documents of special sensitivity (for example, those referring to national security or budget matters) that may be circulated to nominated ministers or members of a particular committee only. At the Prime Minister’s instruction, some particularly sensitive documents may be distributed in the Cabinet Room by the Cabinet Office staff at the time of the meeting and collected at the end of the discussion. Ministers circulate additional documents in the Cabinet Room (for example, to clarify material in a submission) only with the prior agreement of the Prime Minister.

2.7     Ministers should ensure that policy initiatives or expenditure commitments that require Cabinet authority are not announced in advance of the Cabinet’s consideration. In exceptional cases where prior Cabinet clearance is not possible, proposed announcements must be cleared with the Prime Minister and, if expenditure is involved, with the Minister for Finance and the Attorney General first.

2.8     Ministers should not make public statements or comment on policy proposals that they are bringing, or which are to be brought by others, to Cabinet. Promotion in public of a particular line may pre-empt Cabinet deliberations. Identification of individual ministers with particular views tends to call into question the collective basis of agreed outcomes. Each portfolio minister is responsible for the direction and public presentation of policy matters in their portfolio, and other ministers should avoid separate policy positions becoming matters of public debate.

2.9     It is inappropriate for ministers to accept invitations to speak or to comment publicly on matters outside their portfolios in circumstances that may involve disagreement, or which are likely to be construed as amounting to disagreement, with the conduct of another portfolio, without the prior concurrence of the appropriate minister or the Prime Minister.

2.10   Departmental officers and political staff have a responsibility to act in support of ministers’ obligations to abide by Cabinet conventions, and a responsibility to advise ministers in any case where they may perceive a breach, or likely breach, of these conventions. All officials who handle Cabinet documents will have made Secrecy declarations and are bound by the Official Secrets Act. Members of the Cabinet and officials are obliged to notify the Attorney General of any unauthorized disclosure of information about proceedings of Cabinet that come to their notice, and to assist him or her in any investigations. The Prime Minister has asked the Attorney General to assume a general responsibility for investigating any such disclosure.  The Secretary to Cabinet will notify the Attorney General of any breach of security, which comes to his notice.

Cabinet confidentiality

2.11   Collective responsibility is supported by the strict confidentiality attaching to Cabinet documents and to discussions in the Cabinet Room. Cabinet and Cabinet committees are forums in which ministers, while working towards a collective position, are able to discuss proposals and a variety of options and views with complete freedom. The openness and frankness of discussions in the Cabinet Room are protected by the strict observance of this confidentiality.

2.12    On taking up office every Minister is required to take the Oath of Allegiance and the Ministerial Oath, which includes an Oath of Secrecy. Under no circumstances may the nature of the discussion or of opinions expressed by individual Ministers in the Cabinet be divulged. Discussion between Ministers, under a common obligation of secrecy, about subjects to which that obligations applies should always be so conducted that there is no likelihood of a breach of that obligation. It is in this respect relevant to note that a Minister has, as a member of the Cabinet, responsibilities wider than these relating to his or her own portfolio and will, in that capacity, receive documents that do not concern the subjects listed in his portfolio.

Members of the Parliament who are not members of the Cabinet of Ministers are not members of the Executive Government.  Accordingly, information given to them must be strictly limited, in accordance with circumstances, however sympathetic they may be towards the policy of the Cabinet or of any one of its members.

2.13   Effective Cabinet confidentiality requires the protection of Cabinet deliberations not only at the time an issue was, or is, current but also in the future. Any attempt at publication of contributions made by individual ministers in debate in Cabinet, no matter how many years ago the debate took place, would amount to a breach of the personal confidentiality and loyalty owed to Cabinet colleagues.

2.14   Having regard to the obligations imposed on ministers by the conventions of collective responsibility and Cabinet confidentiality, departmental officers should not seek from ministers or Cabinet note-takers information about the views of individual ministers or about aspects of discussion in the Cabinet Room.

2.15    Section 37 of the Solomon Islands Independence Order 1978 lays down that the Governor General acting on the advice of the Prime Minister, may, by directions in writing, assign to any minister responsibility for any business of the Government. This individual responsibility must be exercised in conformity with the principles of the collective responsibility of a Cabinet. A minister is expected to introduce in the Cabinet any memorandum that covers a subject within his portfolio, and to conduct business concerning his portfolio in the Parliament.

Ministerial responsibility for proposals

2.16   Cabinet considers policy proposals that are brought before it by a sponsoring minister.

2.17   Proposals may be sponsored by more than one minister. It is however desirable to avoid both the diffusion of responsibility and the practical difficulties that can arise when more than two or three ministers co-sponsor a memorandum. In cases where many ministers have an interest in the subject matter, it is generally preferable for responsibility to be allocated to one or two key ministers and for the interests of the others to be taken into account by their being consulted in the preparation of the submission.

2.18   Ministers are expected to take full responsibility for the proposals they bring forward, even where detailed development or drafting may have been undertaken by officials, on their behalf.

Implementation and follow-up

2.19   Ministers are responsible for ensuring that appropriate action is taken in relation to Cabinet conclusions affecting their portfolios. Their responsibility extends to all bodies within their portfolios - statutory and other authorities as well as departments. Action may also be initiated by a Permanent Secretary on the minister’s behalf.

2.20    As soon as the Cabinet Secretary has circulated the Conclusions of a Cabinet meeting, extracts from the Conclusions will be prepared by the Cabinet Office containing the decisions only and sent to the Permanent Secretary of the appropriate Ministry or office for insertion in the relevant file to enable further executive action to be taken.

2.21    The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry concerned will be responsible for the preparation of a letter or other documentation conveying such instructions, as may necessary arising from the Conclusions. The Permanent Secretary will, where appropriate, take the Minister’s instructions in the drafting of any such letter. In preparing the letter the Conclusions of the Cabinet should be read in conjunction with any memorandum for the Cabinet on which the discussion may have been based, if it was drafted in the same Ministry. If, for convenience or clarity, it is necessary to use the actual words of the conclusions verbatim, they should not be quoted in inverted commas, and the reference numbers of the Cabinet paper must never be used in any other documents. A decision will normally be conveyed as a direction of the member of the Cabinet concerned and not as a decision of the Prime Minister in Cabinet unless, the latter course has been specifically prescribed for reasons of emphasis (under the doctrine of corporate responsibility the effect is the same in either case).

2.22   If a Cabinet conclusion requires action in several portfolios, and if Cabinet does not direct otherwise, it is for the minister who raised the matter in Cabinet to initiate follow-up procedures (usually by letter to other ministers involved in implementing the minute). The Cabinet Office circulation of conclusions to departments is supplementary to implementation and follow-up arrangements made by ministers, and does not relieve ministers of responsibility for making such arrangements.

2.23    If ministers consider that any memoranda or conclusions are essential for their department’s operations, they may make the minutes available to their permanent secretaries for information and any necessary action. However, where an agency has been directly involved in the preparation of a matter for Cabinet or is directly affected by the outcome of Cabinet’s deliberations, the relevant Cabinet memoranda and conclusions may be issued to the permanent secretary of that agency. Departments or agencies with coordinating responsibilities in an area affected by a conclusion should, as appropriate, convey the effect of that conclusion to other departments and authorities.

2.24    In order to facilitate the management of Cabinet business and otherwise to assist ministers, the Cabinet Office maintains a forecast of Cabinet business expected to come to Cabinet or business which is required to come back to Cabinet or a committee for consideration.

Memoranda involving legislation

2.25    Procedures for following up memoranda that require legislation are set out in the Legislation Handbook.

Declaration of interests

2.26    General information on declaration of interests may be found in the Provisions relating to the Leadership Code Commission and in sections 93, 94 and 95 of the Solomon Islands Independent Order 1978 No.783. Ministers attending meetings of the Cabinet or Cabinet committees must, in relation to the matters under discussion, declare any private interests, pecuniary or non-pecuniary, held by them, or members of their immediate family of which they are aware, which give rise to, or are likely to give rise to, a conflict with their public duties. Any other matter that may give rise to a conflict between duty and interest must also be declared. Ministers should adopt a broad interpretation of the requirement that they take into account the interests of family members and all interests of their own, when considering whether there is a conflict, or a potential conflict, which should be declared.

2.27    Generally, declarations should be made in all cases where an interest exists which could not be said to be shared with the rest of the community. Any such declarations will be recorded by Cabinet note-takers. It is then open to the meeting to excuse a minister from the discussion or to agree explicitly to his or her taking part. A minister would normally withdraw from discussion of any proposal to appoint a person to a government body who is a relative of that minister. Once a minister has made Cabinet aware of a particular private interest, it will not normally be necessary to declare that interest in subsequent Cabinet discussions. If a significant time has elapsed since a declaration and the interest is one that might not be well known to colleagues, the minister might declare the interest again when the relevant matter is under discussion.

2.28    In short, if ministers have any concern about a conflict or a potential conflict of interest in any area of their responsibilities they should advise the Prime Minister.

Custody of Cabinet documents

2.29    Maintaining the confidentiality of the Cabinet’s deliberations requires special arrangements to be made for the handling of Cabinet documents. Detailed guidance on the security and handling of Cabinet documents is set out in Chapter 7.

2.30    A new series of Cabinet records is established for each government. Cabinet documents are the property of the Solomon Islands’ Government, not of individual ministers or departments. As such, they are held on behalf of the Government in the care and control of the Secretary to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and are issued to ministers and departments. Once a minister or department no longer has any immediate need for them and, in any event, when the minister vacates office or a change of government occurs, hard copies of Cabinet documents must be destroyed. Requests for documents by former ministers may be made in writing to the Secretary, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (see also paragraphs 7.40 and 7.41).

2.31    Documents relating to security and intelligence matters are to be returned, following meetings, to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Caretaker conventions

2.32    Successive governments have accepted that special arrangements apply in the period immediately before an election for the Parliament. Details of the caretaker conventions are provided in Attachment 1.



Programme of meetings

3.1     Cabinet meets throughout the year, generally on Thursday, although adherence to this pattern is not always possible. On occasions, when there is a significant amount of business, the Prime Minister will hold additional meetings of Cabinet. Committees meet as their business requires.

3.2     The Secretary to the Cabinet will take the Prime Minister’s instructions on the agenda and the calling of meetings. Any Minister may, of course, ask that a meeting should be called should it appear to him or her that it is urgently necessary to obtain the Cabinet’s decision on some important matter, and the Prime Minister may summon a meeting at any time. All such requests will be conveyed to the Prime Minister by the Secretary to the Cabinet, who must advise on suitable timings. The Prime Minister, as Chairman of Cabinet, determines the times and business for all these meetings.

Notification of meetings

3.3     Each week, the Cabinet Office submits to the Prime Minister, through the Secretary to Cabinet, specific proposals for meetings to be held in the following week. These proposals take into account submissions and memoranda available for consideration, ministers’ written requests, and the relative urgency of items. Once the programme is approved, the Cabinet Office issues to ministers:

(a)          a programme of meetings for the week;

(b)          an agenda for each meeting, showing the business to be considered, the ministers responsible for items, and

(c)          any draft memoranda, submissions and other papers dealt with under the ten-day ministerial consideration system.

3.4     When agenda for meetings are altered or when new meetings are called, revised agendas, notices of meetings or programmes, as appropriate, are issued to alert ministers to these new developments. When new meetings are called or business is added to or deleted from an agenda at short notice, notification will be issued electronically via email or, in exceptional circumstances, ministers’ offices will be notified orally. Political staff should be alert for any changes in the Cabinet programme, and especially for late additions to business lists.

Attendance of ministers

3.5.      Attendance at Cabinet meetings takes priority over all other commitments, apart from unavoidable parliamentary or Executive Council commitments. The Prime Ministers’, or other political staff, should not commit their ministers to engagements that might conflict with the times at which Cabinet or committees are scheduled to meet. As it is the first duty of a Minister to play a full part in reaching decisions on policy matters in the Cabinet. In planning visits to place outside Honiara, a Minister should give due regard to his or her obligations to the Cabinet and duties in his or her Ministry. If, owing to unavoidable circumstances, a Minister is unable to attend any particular meeting, he should give notice to the Secretary to Cabinet as early as possible, for the information of the Prime Minister.

3.6       Ministers should keep the Secretary to Cabinet informed of engagements which involve their absence from Honiara as soon as they are made, in order that the Secretary may be able to tell the Prime Minister when the agenda is being planned which Ministers will be present at a meeting, and also so that, if some sudden emergency arises, the Prime Minister can at once be informed which Ministers are immediately available.

3.7     Ministers who wish to absent themselves from their duties or to be absent from Solomon Islands must obtain written permission from the Prime Minister before being so absent.  Application to the Prime Minister by a Minister for leave of absence from his duties or for permission to leave Solomon Islands should be submitted through the Secretary to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister’s approval of these absences will be accompanied with proposals regarding who will assume the responsibilities of the Minister’s portfolio whilst he or she is away from duty.

3.8     Ministers nominated by the Prime Minister to act for ministers absent overseas or on leave have the full authority of those ministers. They should, however, exercise discretion in initiating or carrying forward to a conclusion major policy proposals.

Cabinet officials

3.9     The Permanent Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as a general rule attends meetings of the Cabinet and its committees. The Head of the Cabinet Office, as Secretary to Cabinet, if different from the Permanent Secretary to The Prime Minister, generally attends all Cabinet and committee meetings, usually accompanied by two other Cabinet Office note-takers from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet who may be changed according to the items being discussed. The note-takers record the outcome of Cabinet discussions and generally assist in the smooth running of meetings. At the Prime Minister’s request they withdraw from meetings whenever ministers wish to conduct private discussions.

3.10    Although notes are taken during discussion for the purpose of writing up minutes (which record only the agreed outcomes), note-takers do not keep a verbatim record of discussions. For security reasons, any notes taken are recorded only in special Cabinet notebooks that are subject to strict confidentiality requirements.

Attendance of officials

3.11   Officials (other than the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Cabinet Office note-takers) do not attend Cabinet or committee meetings unless their attendance has been specifically requested by a minister and approved by the Prime Minister (or the minister chairing the meeting) following consultation with colleagues. When it has been agreed that officials may be present, normally no more than two would attend for the requesting minister. It is for the minister who made the request to arrange for their attendance. The Cabinet official advises them when they are required. All officials should wait outside until called to the Cabinet room.

3.12   Officials are present only to aid their minister and, through him or her, to provide advice to the meeting if requested. They are expected to explain factual or technical material on request, but not to participate in discussions. Officials normally leave the meeting before final outcomes are discussed. If their minister leaves the Cabinet Room, the officials should withdraw unless explicitly asked by the Prime Minister or chairing minister to remain. Officials do not represent ministers in Cabinet.

3.13   Officials present at Cabinet or committee meetings are privy to discussions conducted on a basis of absolute confidentiality among ministers. There must be no disclosure outside the Cabinet Room of the nature or content of those discussions. Any notes made by officials other than note-takers during a meeting are to be destroyed as soon as possible after the meeting.



Cabinet Documents

4.1       Documents of the Cabinet are of four main kinds:

(a)       “Memoranda” submitting questions for decision or giving information likely to lead to discussion (reproduced on green paper);

(b)       “Agenda” listing the business to be decided by a meeting (white paper);

(c)          “Conclusions” recording proceedings and decisions of the Cabinet (yellow paper); “Minutes” recording proceedings and recommendations, and in certain cases, decisions of the Cabinet (pink paper);

(d)       “Notes” providing information for members, but not intended for debate: these are not include in agenda unless after their circulation a member informs the Secretary that he wishes to raise them (green paper, as Memoranda).

All these documents are the property of the Cabinet. The Secretary to Cabinet is responsible for making all necessary arrangements to ensure that their contents are not divulged to unauthorized persons.

Need for Cabinet consideration

4.2     Proceedings in Cabinet are informal and are not subject to the rules of debate. Save with the consent of the Prime Minister matters discussed are limited to items listed in the Agenda. Before initiating possible business for Cabinet, ministers should critically examine whether Cabinet consideration is essential or whether consultation and agreement with interested colleagues would suffice. The volume of Cabinet business needs to be contained because of the demands Cabinet and Cabinet committee meetings make on ministers’ time. This need has to be balanced, however, against the need to bring to Cabinet major issues of policy and any matter requiring collective consideration by the Government.

4.3     Ministers should consider seriously the option of settling a matter by correspondence, particularly where it is likely that all interested ministers are in agreement. Once ministers have provided written agreement to proposals, the initiating minister should write to the Prime Minister advising him of the outcome of consultations and seeking approval for the proposed course of action. Settling matters by correspondence can significantly reduce the workload of ministers and departments as well as of Cabinet and its committees. Subjects are raised normally only by members of the Cabinet, and then after giving notice by the submission of a memorandum. The member putting forward a memorandum is expected to lead the discussion on the subject.

4.4       Any member may ask that a matter shall be discussed in Cabinet, but if it concerns a subject for which he is not responsible, he should not do so without first consulting the Minister or member concerned and his or her request conveyed to the Prime Minister the Secretary to the Cabinet.

4.5       Should a member wish to raise a matter orally in Cabinet he is expected to inform the Prime Minister as early as possible beforehand, through the Secretary to the Cabinet, giving details of the matter which he wishes to raise, together with the reason why discussion of the matter cannot be delayed until after the submission of a memorandum. However, as it is important that members of the Cabinet should be able to give prior consideration to any subject coming before the Cabinet, matters which have not been discussed on the basis of a memorandum will not, except in cases of urgency, be recorded in the conclusions.

4.6     Matters of the following kinds normally come before Cabinet, often through its committees:

(a)    new policy proposals and proposed significant variations to existing policies;

(b)    proposals likely to have a significant effect on employment in either the public or private sector;

(c)     expenditure proposals, including proposals for major capital works and computer acquisitions (normally considered only in the Budget context, that is, when draft estimates of ongoing policies and programmes and new policy proposals are being considered);

(d)    proposals requiring legislation, other than minor proposals which the Prime Minister has agreed need not be raised in Cabinet;

(e)    proposals likely to have a significant impact upon relations between the Solomon Islands’ Government and foreign, provincial or local governments;

(f)     proposed responses to recommendations made in parliamentary committee reports, except for responses which the Prime Minister agrees raise no significant policy questions;

(g)    government negotiation of, or agreement to, international treaties, in accordance with the Department of Foreign Affairs’ guidelines and treaties procedures; and

(h)    requests from parliamentary committees for references, where the references proposed have significant policy or administrative implications.


4.7       No paper can be put to the Cabinet by any one except a member of the Cabinet or the Secretary, and therefore no member of the public is entitled to address the Cabinet other than by invitation.  When letters or petition to the Cabinet or the Secretary to the Cabinet are received in the Cabinet Office they are acknowledged by a letter saying that the petition has been referred to the member of the Cabinet responsible for the subject matter. The letter or petition and a copy of the acknowledgement are sent to the member concerned and it is for him to decide what action should be taken. The majority of petitions dealt with in this way are not put to the Cabinet at all, but there are occasions when it is desirable that the attention of the Cabinet should be drawn to the views of an outside body and this may be done in a memorandum by the member concerned.

Ten-day ministerial consideration period

4.8     Matters not identified by the Prime Minister as requiring detailed discussion in Cabinet, remain available for consideration by ministers for a period of ten calendar days (exclusive of public holidays) from the date they were circulated to all ministers (‘the ten-day period’). Should no minister raise concerns with the Secretary to Cabinet about the recommendations in a memorandum, the memorandum is then scheduled, by the Prime Minister, for consideration and endorsement at the next available Cabinet meeting.

4.9     If a memorandum has not been selected for immediate consideration by Cabinet and concerns are raised by ministers within the ten-day period, the Secretary to Cabinet will facilitate discussions between the relevant ministers and, where appropriate and necessary, their departments and agencies, to resolve any concern or disagreement.

4.10   Once any issues associated with a memorandum have been resolved, a revised memorandum based on the discussions referred to in paragraph 4.9, will be scheduled for consideration and endorsement by Cabinet. If the concerns that led to the discussions have not been resolved among the ministers with an interest in them, the Prime Minister will further consider the matter and the desirability of referring it to Cabinet.

4.11   Submissions considered by ministers in the ten-day period are not brought to a Cabinet meeting for endorsement unless the ten-day period has expired and any issues raised by minister(s) have been resolved no later than seven days before the meeting, in order to allow the inclusion of the item on a Cabinet agenda.

4.12    It is important that the additional time required, including that needed for the preparation, circulation and lodgement processes set out below, is taken into account when preparing submissions requiring decision by a particular deadline, so that consideration can be given through the ten-day ministerial consideration process if appropriate.

4.13   To enhance the strategic focus for Cabinet, each meeting commences with a strategic and political review. In addition, regularly scheduled briefings are presented to Cabinet by ministers, or other persons agreed by the Prime Minister, on major strategic issues. A strategic programme for Cabinet is developed by the Cabinet Office, in consultation with the Prime Minister’s political advisors, for the Prime Minister’s consideration, including meetings to focus only on government or political strategic policy and direction.

Preparation of Cabinet submissions and memoranda

4.14   Cabinet submissions and memoranda need to be concise and should include the cover sheet, recommendations/conclusions, body and any media release, with the co-ordination comments contained in an additional attachment. Other attachments may be added but must not be attached to the submission or memorandum (NB special arrangements apply to Budget submissions and memoranda).

4.15   The cover sheet, which contains the minister’s or department’s executive summary, should enable ministers to grasp the essential issues on which they are being asked to make a decision:

(a)       Purpose - the statement of purpose must state why Cabinet needs to consider the proposal and indicate any timing constraints; and

(b)       Key Issues - this section must focus on the critical matters for decision, determination, political sensitivities or possible criticisms; it must not be just a summary of the text that follows. Recommendations and conclusions should be as stand-alone as possible.

4.16   The Drafter’s Guide sets out in detail for departmental policy advisers and Cabinet liaison officers the process for the preparation of Cabinet submissions and memoranda.

'Seven day rule’ for submissions and memoranda

 4.17   So that ministers may have adequate opportunity to consider proposals and to enable orderly programming of business, submissions and memoranda are not normally listed for consideration by Cabinet or a committee less than seven calendar days (exclusive of public holidays) after their lodgment with and clearance by the Cabinet Office. [Two working days are to be allowed prior to lodgment for the provision of co-ordination comments by the departments consulted].

4.18   In cases where it is absolutely necessary to do so, ministers may consult the Secretary to Cabinet and write to the Prime Minister explaining why the seven day requirement cannot be met and seeking an exemption. To avoid inconveniencing their colleagues and requiring them to take decisions without having had reasonable time to prepare and to receive briefing, ministers are to satisfy themselves as to the urgency of the matter before requesting early consideration of a submission or memorandum. Bids to the Prime Minister for items to breach the seven day rule will not be agreed other than in the most urgent cases where the need for earlier consideration is clear and inescapable, and should not result from delays and inadequate planning by ministers or departments.

4.19   Ministers, the political staff and Permanent Secretaries of departments should ensure that procedures are adopted which take account of the deadlines and events that have a bearing on the preparation of papers for Cabinet - particularly regular or annual events - and so avoid imposing on other ministers by the late lodgment of documents.

4.20   It is for the Prime Minister to determine what business will be dealt with at particular meetings of the Cabinet and committees, and to determine whether a submission or memorandum is dealt with through the ten-day ministerial consideration process. Considerations such as availability of particular ministers and pressure of other Cabinet business (for example, during the Budget preparation period) may affect the timing of Cabinet or a committee’s consideration of particular submissions even though all the required procedures, including the seven day rule, have been met. Departmental Cabinet liaison officers can check proposed Cabinet programmes with the Cabinet Office.

Joint submissions

4.21   It may be decided that submissions dealing with some subjects should always be prepared by a particular minister or jointly. For example, all matters involving taxation are required to be brought forward by the Minister for Finance or, where another portfolio minister has a significant interest, by the Minister for Finance and that Minister.

4.22   Joint submissions require the sponsoring ministers to agree the text of the submission. It is highly desirable that they agree the recommendations, but where this is not possible ministers should indicate those recommendations on which they agree and should specify their divergent recommendations.

4.23   Although joint submissions are the joint responsibility of the Ministers concerned, as a matter of practical administration there needs to be a clear understanding of who has the lead role in ensuring the work is undertaken and, in particular, which department will have responsibility for consulting more widely and for lodging the submission with the Cabinet Office.

Submissions prepared by one Minister in consultation with others

4.24   Where the Cabinet or Prime Minister has asked a minister to prepare a memorandum or submission in consultation with others, where a submission recommends action by ministers not signatories to it, or where matters directly affecting other ministers’ portfolio responsibilities are raised, the sponsoring minister must provide the other ministers concerned a sufficient opportunity to contribute to the submission. Consultation does not, of course, mean agreement but ministers should be consulted sufficiently early in the drafting process to enable their views to be taken into account and should be given sufficient time to enable them to make a considered input.

Handling of business without submission

4.25   Ministers may, by writing to the Prime Minister, seek his agreement to raise particular matters in Cabinet without lodging a formal submission. The only matters dealt with ‘under-the-line’ in this way are:

(a)       urgent matters of a procedural rather than policy nature;

(b)       urgent policy matters which are sufficiently straightforward not to require a formal Cabinet submission and which cannot be resolved in another way (for example, by an exchange of correspondence between ministers); and

(c)        appointments (see Chapter 6).

4.26   Before deciding to seek the Prime Minister’s approval to raise a matter without submission (other than an appointment) ministers need to consider carefully whether the particular circumstances warrant the adoption of this procedure rather than the preparation of a submission which would then allow their colleagues full notice of the proposal.

4.27    Ministers’ letters to the Prime Minister asking that a matter be raised ‘under-the-line’ should:

(a)       include sufficient information on the subject and background to form the basis for Cabinet discussion; and

(b)       indicate whether the matter falls within the guidelines at paragraph 4.25(a) or (b) and the reasons for urgency.

4.28   Ministers should write at least three clear working days before the meeting at which discussion is sought. In writing to the Prime Minister, ministers should specify those colleagues with a portfolio interest in the matter and ensure that each receives a copy of the letter. The letter should be stamped ‘Cabinet-in-Confidence’. Should the Prime Minister agree to the matter being raised, and subject to the minister’s agreement, the Cabinet Office will circulate a copy of the minister’s letter to all Cabinet ministers. Should the Prime Minister not agree to the matter being raised, the Secretary to Cabinet will advise the minister(s) concerned.

4.29   In Cabinet, the Prime Minister initiates the discussion of ‘under-the-line’ proposals. The Cabinet Secretariat arranges for ministers not in the Cabinet to be present while matters of this kind affecting their responsibilities are being considered.

Cabinet conclusions and minutes

4.30   Outcomes of Cabinet and committee deliberations are recorded as Cabinet conclusions and/or minutes and are prepared by the official Cabinet note-takers and the Secretary to Cabinet who also signs them. Cabinet conclusions are circulated to all Cabinet ministers and to relevant departments. Minutes of some committees will be given a limited circulation. Committee minutes, with some exceptions, are not operative until endorsed by Cabinet.

4.31   If a minister has doubts about the accuracy of a minute as recorded and circulated, those doubts should be drawn to the attention of the Prime Minister or the Secretary to Cabinet in writing as soon as possible, rather than held over to be raised at a subsequent Cabinet meeting.

4.32   If the Cabinet has decided a matter and the Minister finds that it is impracticable to carry out the conclusion, or if circumstances have changed and the decision has become difficult or undesirable to implement, then the Minister should put the matter back to Cabinet at the earliest opportunity. If only a minor variation from the Cabinet conclusion is necessary the Minister should inform the Prime Minister through the Secretary to Cabinet and take instructions whether to go ahead or to go back to Cabinet.

4.33   For submissions and memoranda dealt with under the ten-day ministerial consideration process, draft minutes and/or conclusions are prepared and circulated to Cabinet ministers in advance of the Cabinet meeting at which they are to be considered and endorsed. The relevant submission or memorandum is available for consideration at the meeting at which a draft minute is considered or endorsed.

4.34   Committee minutes that require endorsement by Cabinet are annotated accordingly. When they have been formally approved by Cabinet, a new memorandum or set of draft conclusions is issued. The new document bears a statement indicating whether the original committee minute has been endorsed in its entirety or varied in part only. Committee minutes that do not require endorsement, including requests for further papers, are issued in the usual way.

4.35   The committee system is designed to ensure that outcomes are reached after thorough discussion and on the basis of consensus. Cabinet endorsement of committee minutes is then normally a formal process not involving the reopening of discussion. If there are aspects of a committee minute, which a minister wishes to raise in Cabinet, the minister informs the Prime Minister or the Secretary to Cabinet in writing beforehand. The matter may then be raised when the minute is put for endorsement

4.36   Changes of substance are not normally made in endorsing a committee minute unless the minister responsible for the original proposal is present. If a matter of substance is at issue, Cabinet may refer the matter back to the committee for further consideration. Similarly, if there is a Cabinet request for an additional submission or memorandum, or for a variation to a document already before it, the matter may be returned to the appropriate committee for consideration before being considered by the Cabinet again.

Circulation of conclusions to departments

4.37   Cabinet conclusions are circulated to departments that are specifically required to take action or which have a need to know, and generally, to no others. Permanent Secretaries are expected to have procedures in place to ensure that conclusions are circulated internally on a strict application of the ‘need-to-know’ principle, and that a proper record is kept of anyone who has access to a memorandum.

4.38   Officers in a department which does not receive a copy of a Cabinet conclusion in its initial circulation may consider, on advice from their minister’s office or from other departments, that they need to see a copy of the conclusions. In that case, a request may be made to the Cabinet Office, indicating reasons.

Conclusions requiring further action before announcement

4.39   Where the Governor General’s approval is required, action on Cabinet conclusions must be held over until that approval has been obtained. Care must be taken to ensure that no publicity is given to such matters before this action is completed, unless the Governor-General’s prior approval of an announcement has been obtained (see also paragraphs 6.9 and 6.10).

4.40   Where Provincial Premiers or other parties have to be informed, or other preliminary action on a Cabinet conclusion has to be taken, it is the task of the responsible minister to see that this has been finalized before an announcement is made.


4.41    Announcements refer to decisions of the Government, not of Cabinet or a committee. The timing of a policy announcement is determined when the Cabinet determines the policy, with the minister’s proposed timing and method shown on the cover page of the submission. The contents of committee minutes are not announced until they have been endorsed by the Cabinet unless, in particular cases where circumstances will not allow delay, earlier announcement is expressly authorized by Cabinet or the Prime Minister.

4.42   Generally speaking, significant policy developments are announced first in the Parliament, if this is practicable. Likewise, where possible, policy information papers announcing government policy, and policy discussion papers presenting policy options for discussion are first tabled in the Parliament. Recommendations regarding policy proposals are not always made public.

4.43    In preparing documents for consideration by the Government, ministers and officers should specifically consider what factual material and analysis embodied in these documents - or what other relevant material - might be made available to the public. Intentions regarding public release are to be indicated in the recommendations in the submission.


Purposes of consultation

5.1     Good policy requires informed decisions. Informed decisions require agreement on facts and knowledge of the opinions of those who have expertise in the subject matter. Consultation provides the means of obtaining the information and views required. Importantly, a careful balance needs to be struck between a proper and adequate consultation process and adherence to the strict ‘need-to-know’ principle. One object of consultation in the development of proposals is to ensure that, as far as possible, differences are resolved in advance of Cabinet consideration or, if resolution is not possible, differences are identified and set out in a way that will facilitate informed decision-making.

5.2     Ministers bringing forward submissions are responsible for ensuring that the consultation necessary to enable a fully informed decision to be taken occurs at both ministerial and official levels. It is particularly important that there be agreement regarding the factual matters (that is, matters that are not open to interpretation or differences of opinion) which will form the basis of Cabinet discussions. The Cabinet Office has been instructed to reject submissions where there is disagreement about facts.

5.3     Proper consultation takes time and ample allowance should be made for it at the planning stages. This is especially so where there are critical dates for Cabinet consideration of an issue, for example, expiry of legislation or settling a negotiating position before an international conference. On the Prime Minister’s instructions, the Cabinet Office will return a submission lodged before adequate time has been allowed for receipt of co-ordination comments, so that the submission may be amended to take account of them.

Co-ordination comments - the basic consultation requirements

5.4     Apart from the consultation requirements outlined above, all submissions should be the subject of consultation among departments that have a proper interest in the subject matter (ie. where the issues impinge upon a department’s core functions). The minimum requirement is that interested departments be given the opportunity to provide a ‘co-ordination comment’ on the submission after it has been approved by the sponsoring minister. That ‘coordination comment’ will then be included in the submission as an attachment. Two working days are to be allowed for the provision of coordination comments.

5.5     Best practice however entails more than mere circulation of a draft Cabinet proposal for general information, or of an already finalized and approved submission for the addition of a ‘co-ordination comment’. Consultation is an integral part of the development of a policy proposal, from the outset of that development through to lodgment of the submission. Ministers and officers in departments with an interest should have ample opportunity to contribute to the development of the proposal and to resolve any differences before lodgment of the submission. It is the responsibility of the Permanent Secretary dealing with the file in which the memorandum is being drafted to clear it with the appropriate officials of the other Ministry before the two Ministers are invite to approve and initial the memorandum.

5.6     More frequently it may happen that another Minister is not exactly jointly responsible but is concerned with some aspects of the subjects or is interested in the matter in more general terms. In such cases the Permanent Secretary concerned should, through the Permanent Secretary of the other Ministry, obtain the agreement or views of the other Minister. If the other Minister himself has seen the paper the fact should be recorded in the memorandum. “The Minister of..................... has been consulted and supports the proposal”, or whatever wording is appropriate. If the Minister is difficult to access and only the officials have seen the paper it could be recorded that “The Ministry of………………..agrees” or “has no objections”, or whatever it may be. It is preferable, however, whenever possible for the minister himself to see the paper.

5.7       It is vitally important that the Cabinet shall have before them in a concise and clear form all the pertinent points that they will need in order to reach a decision. Although a memorandum should not commit any Minister or other member of the Cabinet to a final view before the matter is discussed in Cabinet it will normally contain in the last paragraph the detailed recommendations of the member presenting it. If more than one Ministry is concerned it is often simplest and best for a meeting to be convened to settle the terms of the draft or to iron out any doubtful point. The aim should be to help the work of the Cabinet by endeavouring to secure agreement on as many points as possible so that the Cabinet does not have to appear to arbitrate between two Ministries. In the last resort, of course, if there is a fundamental difference of opinion between two Ministers it is one of the duties of the Cabinet to resolve any such conflict. In any case, where two or more Ministries are concerned the greatest care should be taken to ensure that the needs and views of those Ministries, which will be formed after consultation between the chief professional or technical officers, the Permanent Secretary and the Ministers, are adequately represented in the paper before the Cabinet.

5.8       The foregoing paragraphs apply with particular relevance to the Law Officers and the Ministry of Finance. Frequently a matter requiring a decision will have legal or financial implications and these should be set out clearly in the paper after consultation with the Ministry of Finance or the Attorney General’s Chambers. Whenever proposals in a memorandum involve the expenditure of public funds it must be referred to the Ministry of Finance first and should be seen by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance himself so that the memorandum can record “This memorandum issues with the concurrence (or otherwise) of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance”. All legislation should be sent to the Attorney General’s Chambers at some stage for drafting and approval. Except in the case of straightforward minor amendments, however, the advice of the Cabinet should normally be sought on the principles proposed for new legislation before asking the Law Officers either first to clear implication or later to draft.

5.9     Co-ordination comments should be as short as possible, should draw attention to any significant risks and administrative consequences for the department and should state views, with the reasons for holding them, succinctly. Merely ‘noting’ items in the submission is a waste of space. ‘No comment’ comments are quite acceptable.

5.10   It is for departments to settle with their ministers the extent to which ministers may wish to clear their department’s co-ordination comments or otherwise be drawn into the consultation process. Co-ordination comments are recorded as the views of the departments providing them, are intended to add to the information available to the Cabinet in its deliberative processes and should not be seen as binding ministers nor necessarily reflecting their views. Frequently ministers may prefer to reserve their contributions for Cabinet discussion. Ministers may need to be more involved when co-ordination comments focus on policy rather than administration. In many cases it may be sufficient for the relevant political staff to be consulted on the proposed co-ordination comment rather than requiring agreement. The consultation process should allow sufficient time for departments to consult their ministers where necessary. It is essential that ministers and their advisors should ensure that their input does not delay lodgment of co-ordination comments.

5.11   Submissions must adequately reflect and record the results of consultation. Initiating ministers and departments should be prepared to amend the text of a draft in response to suggestions that are made. If the draft submission is changed significantly, or if the recommendations have been altered, after departments have been given an opportunity to comment, the revised document should again be circulated for comment. Changes to successive drafts of submissions should be highlighted. In these cases submitting departments should arrange with consulted departments for appropriate time to comment on the revised submission. Where an invitation to comment has not been taken up, an appropriate reference should be included in the consultation attachment to the submission indicating that co-ordination comments were sought but not provided and the department listed on the cover page of the submission or memorandum.

5.12   If differences of view in relation to a submission or a memorandum, emerge after it has been lodged with the Cabinet Office, or if it is considered that consultation has been inadequate or that the submission does not adequately reflect the views of those consulted, it is for the dissenting minister(s) or officer(s) to raise these matters with the minister originating the submission, or his or her department and to draw them to the attention of the Cabinet Office.

5.13   If a co-ordination comment raises matters not addressed in the body of the submission, this may reflect an inadequacy in the submission and the originating department should consider taking account of the comment in the text. No rebuttal is to be attempted in the consultation attachment. Ministers may take up points that concern them in discussion in the Cabinet Room.

5.14   The Cabinet Office may reject a submission or a memorandum (unless there are persuasive mitigating reasons) where strong criticism by other departments has not been addressed in the submission or where significant issues have not been canvassed, particularly if the submission has been requested by Cabinet.

5.15   Occasionally departments may find that submissions in which they have a legitimate interest have been lodged by other departments without reference to them. In those cases the omitted department should bring its interest to the attention of the lodging department and the Cabinet Office.

5.16   It is the responsibility of lodging departments and agencies to arrange for delivery of submissions/memoranda in the approved manner to those agencies from which co-ordination comments are being sought.

Legislation Handbook

5.17   Procedures for the preparation and handling of legislation proposals in submissions and memoranda are detailed in the Legislation Handbook. Some additional information on legislation proposals is contained in the Drafter’s Guide.

Who should be consulted?

5.18   Those preparing submissions or memorandums need to be alert to all the special responsibilities of portfolios that may be affected by proposals (see Attachment 4 - the Drafter’s Guide). They also need to give careful consideration in each case to ensuring the right balance is struck between obtaining the views of departments that have a proper interest in the proposals and circulating the submissions too widely - thereby increasing the risk of premature disclosure.

5.19.  Additional information on who should be consulted is contained in the Drafter’s Guide that is available from the Cabinet Office or a department’s Permanent Secretary or an officer nominated by him or her.



6.1     In the case of significant Government appointments, ministers must write to the Prime Minister seeking his or her approval, or at his or her discretion, Cabinet’s approval of the appointment.

6.2     The appointments to be brought to the Prime Minister’s attention include:

(a)       significant full-time or part-time appointments (including interim appointments) to boards, commissions or statutory offices;

(b)       full-time Permanent Secretary appointments and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) positions in such agencies (where the Board selects the CEO, the Government should be consulted and the minister should not signify agreement without the approval of the Prime Minister);

(c)        first-time acting appointments in the above categories where the acting appointment is for three months or more;

(d)       appointments to significant non-statutory tribunals, advisory bodies and commissions of inquiry; and

(e)       appointments as heads of mission.

6.3     In respect of other proposed appointments, it is for ministers, in consultation as appropriate with the Prime Minister, to judge whether these should be brought to his attention. As a general rule, if appointments to a particular body have been submitted for approval by the Prime Minister or by Cabinet in the past, they should continue to be submitted unless the Prime Minister agrees otherwise. The Cabinet Office can assist with information on past practice.

6.4     In order to avoid pre-empting a decision on appointments, potential appointees, once identified, are to be approached initially only to ascertain:

(a)       a willingness for their name to be put forward for consideration along with other candidates; and

(b)       whether, if selected, there would be any conflict of interests, in accordance with the Government’s requirements.

6.5     In submitting proposals to the Prime Minister, an account is to be given of the consideration by the minister in appointing new people. This should include information about whether the positions have been advertised and, if not, the reason for that decision. Where the minister recommends reappointment particular justification for doing so is to be included.

6.6     The procedures to be followed in preparing appointments for the Prime Minister’s attention are as follows:

(a)       proposals must reach the Prime Minister’s office at least 10 working days before a Cabinet meeting at which the appointment may be raised for consideration. It should be noted that, as a general rule, appointments should be raised for consideration well in advance of the time the position is to be filled;

(b)     for appointments that require the approval of the Governor General, calculation of the lead time must also take into account the cut-off dates for submission to Government House

(c)     every appointment request to the Prime Minister must be accompanied by an Appointment for Cabinet pro forma, whether or not the particular appointment is a candidate for Cabinet consideration;

(d)     all questions on the Appointment pro forma, including full remuneration details and accompanying full membership list setting out appointment start and end dates, State of residence and gender for each member, must be completed with careful attention to detail before processing of the appointment can be finalized;

(e)     in submitting a proposal for appointment, ministers must ensure that the person being proposed is appropriately qualified and has experience relevant to the position;

(f)      due regard must be paid to the Government’s policy of encouraging an increase in the number of appointments of women;

(g)     careful attention must also be paid to the need to have an appropriate geographical balance in appointments;

(h)     letters seeking the Prime Minister’s or Cabinet’s approval must provide relevant evidence in terms of qualifications and the like, in support of a proposed appointee’s claims, as well as explaining any urgency attached to the appointment or sensitivity including likely public reaction. Nominating ministers should consult relevant ministerial colleagues when proposing to appoint officers employed in another portfolio to an advisory committee in their own portfolio:

(i)      public announcement of appointments must not pre-empt approval by the Governor-General, Prime Minister or Cabinet.

6.7      Additional procedures apply to appointments concerning close relatives of ministers, members of parliament, political staff or permanent secretaries and agency heads. Any such relationship should be noted in appointment proposals being put to Cabinet.

6.8     To avoid the appearance of conflict of interest, those involved in the appointments process should have no family relationship with the person under consideration and any ministers concerned should absent themselves from all discussion on that matter. There is a longstanding practice that ministers do not appoint close relatives to positions in their own offices. In addition, close relatives of a minister should not be appointed to any other minister’s office irrespective of the level of the position, except with the specific approval of the Prime Minister. And a minister’s close relative should not be appointed to any position in an agency in that minister’s own portfolio if the appointment is subject to the agreement of that minister or Cabinet. Further information on the appointment of close relatives may be found in the Ministerial Handbook.

6.9     Circulation of appointment Memorandum is limited on the understanding that no information concerning an appointment is to be divulged until after all necessary processes have been completed (for example, the Governor General’s approval and relevant parties informed) and an announcement made by the minister.

6.10   The procedures for re-appointment are the same as those for appointments as set out above.

6.11    The making of appointments is a very significant government activity with important long-term implications. The above process is designed to ensure that appointments receive the full and proper consideration they deserve. In order to maintain the integrity of the Cabinet appointments system, there must be rigorous adherence to this process.



Definition of Cabinet documents

7.1     Cabinet documents are to be held separately from the other working documents of government administration and must be destroyed when no longer in day-to-day use (see paragraph 7.33). Subject to the 30-year rule, Cabinet documents are not available to governments other than those that created them. Any unauthorised disclosure of them damages the openness and frankness of discussions in the Cabinet Room.

7.2      For the purpose of this Handbook, Cabinet documents include:

(a)       agendas for meetings of Cabinet and Cabinet committees;

(b)       Cabinet programmes and notices of meetings;

(c)        Cabinet submissions and memoranda, including copies lodged with the Cabinet Office and copies held elsewhere;

(d)       corrigenda to submissions and memoranda;

(e)       reports and attachments to submissions and memoranda (whether or not actually attached) which have been brought into existence for the purpose of being considered by Cabinet;

(f)        schedules circulated for ministers’ information, for example schedules of appointments, endorsements or of other matters without submission;

(g)       any papers circulated by ministers in the Cabinet room related to matters under discussion by the Cabinet;

(h)       legislation proposal forms and papers required for the legislation approval process, which clears bills prior to their introduction in Parliament, including the Legislative Draftsman’s Counsel’s memoranda, legislation profiles and draft bills and explanatory memoranda;

(i)         correspondence between ministers and the Prime Minister which is submitted to Cabinet or proposes matters (including appointments) to be raised in Cabinet without submission;

(j)         Cabinet and Cabinet committee minutes and draft minutes and/or conclusions prepared for consideration and endorsement under the ten-day ministerial consideration process;

(k)        Documents of the Cabinet Office including Cabinet notebooks or other material that in any way records the deliberations of Cabinet; and

(l)         copies of, or extracts from, documents referred to in (a) to (k) above.

7.3     While the definition of Cabinet documents does not include documents such as drafts of submissions and memoranda, briefing materials and correspondence related to these, and correspondence and notes disclosing the outcome of Cabinet deliberations, special care is also to be taken in the handling of these documents (see paragraphs 7.15 and 7.16).

Classification of Cabinet documents

7.4     All Cabinet documents are marked SECRET - this document is the property of the CABINET OF SOLOMON ISLANDS

7.5     Officers who handle Cabinet documents should have the appropriate security clearance. Permanent Secretaries or officers nominated by them to handle a wide range of Cabinet material, should be cleared to at least the national security level ‘Secret’. More detailed information on these requirements may be obtained from agency security advisers or, if necessary, the Cabinet Office.

7.6     Cabinet documents are being made available to each Minister’s office electronically, by way of the email system. The Prime Minister nominates the appropriate political staff to be registered to access the system. Registration for authorized access is lodged with the Cabinet Office.

Handling procedures

7.7     Ministers’ offices must be prepared to rely on the email system for the electronic issue of Cabinet documents. In the case of hard copies of Cabinet documents, these are delivered to each minister’s office by a member of the Cabinet Office. Each minister nominates the appropriate staff to receive and handle Cabinet documents and (when necessary) a separately nominated person with the requisite security clearances to receive and handle security related documents. One of the nominated staff members signs for Cabinet documents on receipt. Officers to whom such documents are delivered are responsible for their safe handling and safe custody.

7.8     Unless an envelope or security bag is clearly marked ‘To be opened by minister (or Addressee) only’, the nominated custodian of Cabinet documents may open it and bring its contents to the minister’s (or addressee’s) attention. In the absence of the custodian, these functions may be performed only by one of the other persons specifically authorized by the minister to have access to Cabinet documents.

7.9     Envelopes or security bags containing Cabinet documents and designated ‘To be opened by Addressee only’ should receive special care in handling and safe-keeping. To assist political and departmental staff responsible for handling Cabinet documents, any such envelope or security bag has marked on it the number of the document it contains. Political and departmental staff should also retain receipts for their records.

7.10   It is for ministers to determine whether their Permanent Secretaries or political staff need to know the contents of Cabinet documents. If ministers pass documents to their secretaries, the secretaries then assume responsibility for the security of the documents and determine the application of the ‘need-to-know’ principle at the departmental level. Ministers assume the same responsibility in relation to any political staff.

7.11   Whenever a minister sends Cabinet documents to a Permanent Secretary for advice or action, the nominated staff member ensures the security of documents while they are in transit and keeps a record of the movement.

7.12   Programmes, notices of meeting and agendas are circulated to ministers and to a strictly limited group of officers dealing with Cabinet matters. They are not given further circulation or publicity.

7.13   Cabinet documents are to be stored in approved secure containers. Because Cabinet documents are to be destroyed when no longer in day-to-day use, they should never be placed on files with other departmental records. It is also good practice to maintain a separate filing and recording system for draft memoranda and submissions etc received from other departments.

7.14   Special care must also be exercised in relation to certain other documents. These include drafts of Cabinet documents as well as briefing material, notes, minutes, schedules and correspondence (in addition to correspondence referred to at sub-paragraph 7.2(i)) concerning matters that are to be put before Cabinet or which have been before Cabinet.

7.15   Such documents, like Cabinet documents proper, must be handled strictly in accordance with the ‘need-to-know’ principle. All of them may refer specifically to submissions, memoranda, or minutes by title, number or date, or reveal the nature of Cabinet deliberations.

Recording access to Cabinet documents

7.16   A record is to be kept of persons who have had access to each Cabinet document.  Cabinet staff can meet this requirement effectively by attaching a movement record sheet to each copy of a Cabinet document, indicating to whom the document has been passed.

7.17   Likewise, each department must keep a full written record of all officers who have had access to Cabinet documents, whether in draft or final form, and whether prepared by the department or provided by another in the course of consultation.

7.18    Originating departments will be responsible for circulation of copies to agencies. Under manual processing, departments, when lodging submissions, memoranda or corrigenda, provide the Cabinet Office with details of the number of copies produced and the circulation of any copies not lodged. Under the email system, departments will lodge only the one copy of submissions, memoranda or corrigenda electronically with the Cabinet Office which, in turn, will circulate them electronically to ministers’ offices and consulted departments and agencies.

Copying of Cabinet documents

7.19   Cabinet documents must not be copied, except as outlined in paragraphs 7.21 and 7.22. As indicated in paragraph 7.28, the no-copying rule also prohibits the transcribing or copying of text of Cabinet documents (particularly conclusions or minutes) into departmental systems (including via optical character readers) or electronic transmission via facsimile or telex. Electronic transmission via email is referred to at paragraph 7.20.

7.20   Under manual processing, copies of a submission or memorandum may be made only by the originating department, by the Cabinet Office. Other departments requiring copies may request them of the originating department. If a department that originated a submission or memorandum finds it cannot meet requests for copies, it should contact the Cabinet Office to request that additional copies be allocated, together with details of their circulation. Under the email system, copies of a submission or memorandum may be issued electronically by the Cabinet Office.

7.21   The production and circulation of Cabinet conclusions and minutes are strictly controlled by the Cabinet Office and, if extra copies of these are required, a request must be submitted to the Cabinet Office.

Quoting from Cabinet minutes

7.22   The means of conveying the essence of a Cabinet memorandum or conclusions to officers involved in implementation and follow-up action is a matter for determination by each minister or department. It may be appropriate to provide a summary of a Cabinet memorandum, or, where precision is essential, to quote the actual words of the relevant part of the document.  But copies of minutes and conclusions may not be taken, nor may conclusions themselves be circulated, other than on a strict ‘need-to- know’ basis. Any new document created containing specific reference to a memorandum as such should be marked SECRET - this document is the property of the CABINET OF SOLOMON ISLANDSand accorded at least the level of protection due to the original document.

Responsibilities of Ministers regarding access

7.23   Ministers have the following particular responsibilities where they have political staff attached to them:

(a)    to arrange, through the Secretary to Cabinet, for each member of staff of his or her to be security cleared to the appropriate level ;

(b)    to arrange for one person in the office to have custody of Cabinet documents and to be responsible (to the minister) for their security, to advise the Cabinet Office of that person’s name, and where appropriate to appoint a person to have custody of security documents;

(c)    to limit the number of persons in the office having access to Cabinet documents and to advise the Cabinet Office of the names of staff members authorized to have access to both hard copy and the electronic version of Cabinet documents;

(d)    to ascertain whether any staff member having access to a particular document has any interest to declare;

(e)    to impress upon staff members having access to Cabinet documents the need for strict security of those documents, and to advise them particularly of the need to be aware of Cabinet confidentiality when talking to others who may not be authorized to see Cabinet documents;

(f)     to be satisfied that appropriate security arrangements are made in their private offices and (directly or through the portfolio secretary) in their departments for the handling of Cabinet documents, and that access to those documents is on a ‘need-to-know’ basis; and

(g)    to ensure that documents no longer needed are destroyed (see paragraph 7.30).

Responsibilities of permanent secretaries regarding access

7.24   In respect of Cabinet documents held by departments, permanent secretaries (and their equivalents in statutory authorities) must ensure that:

(a)    the documents are kept in safe custody;

(b)    access is on a strict ‘need-to-know’ basis;

(c)     records are maintained of all officers given access to each document;

(d)    officers given access have the appropriate security clearance; and

(e)    documents no longer in day-to-day use within the department are destroyed (see paragraph 7.30). The Cabinet Office will quickly meet requests for access to such documents if subsequently required.

7.25   Requests from the Cabinet Office for the return of documents or for the names of officers who have had access to particular documents are to be met immediately and in full.

Electronic systems and transmittal of Cabinet material

7.26   Electronic indexes of Cabinet documents recording information such as document numbers, dates and titles are permitted, but access to these indexes should be restricted to the Cabinet liaison sections of departments (or authorized political staff); no-copying rule also prohibits the transcribing of the text of Cabinet documents (particularly memoranda) into departmental systems (including via optical character readers) or electronic transmission via facsimile or telex; and confidential material, including co-ordination comment on draft submissions and memoranda, is not to be electronically transmitted over an unprotected circuit through a facsimile machine.

7.27   Security of electronic systems is the responsibility of ministers and departments operating them. Although the Cabinet Office can provide advice on applications which have implications for handling of Cabinet documents, it should be borne in mind that the handling and custody of all documents, including those electronic documents on Departmental IT systems, is the responsibility of individual agencies.

Access to Cabinet documents by courts and investigatory bodies

7.28   Ministers and departments must consult the Cabinet Office if they receive from any source outside the usual executive government agencies - for example, a court, an investigatory body or a Parliamentary Committee - a request for access to any Cabinet document or Cabinet-related material (see paragraphs 7.2 and 7.3). This consultation should always take place before consideration is given to claiming ‘public interest immunity’ in respect of Cabinet documents and should be additional to any consultations with legal advisers. Claims of immunity in respect of Cabinet documents should be made only by ministers - normally the ministers responsible for originating the documents - in consultation with the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister, or by the Permanent Secretary to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in cases involving Cabinet documents of former governments.

Access by agencies and authorities

7.29   Whether or not an agency or authority is entitled to access to Cabinet documents is determined on a case-by-case basis. Key factors are the degree of ministerial control over the body and the structure of the organization. Even if a body is not entitled to access to final documents, its staff may, however, be involved in the preparation of draft Cabinet papers and may be informed in general terms of the outcome of Cabinet deliberations on a ‘need-to-know’ basis. It is the responsibility of the relevant permanent secretary to decide upon and implement the details of the necessary arrangements for relevant authorities, within the usual guidelines applying to access to Cabinet material.

Destruction of Cabinet documents

7.30   Sensitive documents such as those relating to national security are to be returned, following meetings, to the Cabinet Office in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. When no longer required by ministers or departments, or when a minister vacates office or a change of government occur, other Cabinet documents must be returned to the Cabinet Office for archiving or destruction. In the case of submissions, memoranda, corrigenda and minutes, a record of each document destroyed (including copy number) must be kept so that, if required, the holder may certify that destruction has occurred. Where documents have been destroyed the former holder can readily obtain a replacement copy from the Cabinet Office should the need arise. The Cabinet Office retains full sets of all Cabinet documents.

Access to Cabinet documents of previous governments

7.31   Successive governments have accepted the convention that ministers do not seek access to documents recording the deliberations of ministers in previous governments. In particular, Cabinet documents are considered confidential to the government that created them.

7.32    Before each parliamentary election, departments should ensure that all Cabinet documents held by them are accounted for and stored so that access can be controlled appropriately. If the government is returned, the documents can be made available again in accordance with normal practice. If there is a change of government, Cabinet documents of the previous government must be destroyed (see paragraph 7.33). If departments later require copies, they should consult the Cabinet Office.

7.33   Where continuity of administration requires reference back to Cabinet documents of previous governments, including Cabinet memoranda, departments can provide ministers of the new government with summaries of relevant facts and of operative decisions necessary for an understanding of current issues, including, if essential to that understanding, summaries of Cabinet memoranda and conclusions of a previous government, but not the documents themselves.

7.34   Where, for the sake of administrative efficiency, departments need access to submissions and memoranda of a previous government, these are to be sought in writing from the Cabinet Office - not from the originating department. Departments and authorities are not to pass on these documents to other agencies; the requesting department or authority should be referred to the Cabinet Office.


7.35   Cabinet documents held by ministers or departments should not be sent to the National Archives of the Solomon Islands’ with personal or other papers. They must be destroyed in accordance with paragraph 7.30 above.

7.36   Under the National Archives Act Cabinet documents are generally open to public access only after thirty years.

7.37    Access to Cabinet documents less than 30 years old is allowed to certain persons on an individual basis under regulations and arrangements made under section 8 (1) of the National Archives Act. All such requests for access to any Cabinet documentation must be referred to the Permanent Secretary to the Prime Minister for consideration, along the lines set out in paragraphs 7.38 and 7.40 below.

7.38    The Permanent Secretary to the Prime Minister authorizes requests for “refreshment of memory” access by former Prime Ministers, former ministers, former secretaries and some other specified Government office holders who seek access to Cabinet and other official documents with which they dealt personally while in office.

7.39    Additionally, special access to Cabinet and other official documents less than thirty years old may also be granted to other persons in accordance with the special access guidelines provided for in the abovementioned arrangements. Advice on such access should be sought in the first instance from the National Archives of the Solomon Islands.

7.40    When requests for special access to Cabinet documents are received, the Permanent Secretary to the Prime Minister consults the present leader of the political party in government at the time the relevant records were created.



Caretaker conventions

1.       Successive governments have accepted that special arrangements apply in the period immediately before an election for the Parliament in recognition of the considerations that:

(a)       with the dissolution of the House, there is no popular chamber to which the executive government can be responsible; and

(b)       every general election brings with it the possibility of a change of government.

2.         Over many years, practices have developed to remind ministers and departments of the need to observe the conventions. The Prime Minister may write to ministers concerning the conventions.

3.         The formal period for which the caretaker conventions operate dates from the dissolution of the Parliament until the election result is clear or, in the event of a change of government, until the new government is appointed. However, it is also accepted that some care should be exercised in the period between the announcement of the election and the dissolution.

4.         By convention, the Government ensures that important decisions are not taken in this period that would bind an incoming government and limit its freedom of action. The basic caretaker conventions require a government to avoid implementing major policy initiatives, making appointments of significance or entering major contracts or undertakings during the caretaker period and to avoid involving departmental officers in election activities.

5.         In relation to appointments, only those which it is essential to fill are proceeded with, and preferably on an acting or short-term basis unless a minimum or fixed term is prescribed. There is often consultation with the relevant Opposition spokesperson, particularly where longer term appointments are necessary.

6.         The basic conventions are directed to the taking of decisions, and not to their announcement. Accordingly, the conventions are not infringed where decisions taken before the caretaker period are announced during the caretaker period. However, it is desirable, if the decisions concern significant initiatives, that they be announced in advance of the caretaker period in order to avoid controversy. The caretaker conventions do not apply to new policy promises that a government may announce as part of its election campaign.

7.         Cabinet or Cabinet committees may meet in the caretaker period if this is necessary for the continuance of the normal business of government, but the range of matters that may be considered is constrained by the conventions. Normally, efforts are made to clear necessary business prior to the caretaker period, thus avoiding the necessity for such meetings during the caretaker period.

8.         There are other established practices, usually regarded as being part of the caretaker conventions, which govern activities in the election period. These are mainly directed at ensuring that departments avoid any partisanship in the special circumstances of an election campaign and that government resources are not directed to supporting a particular political party. They address matters such as the nature of requests that ministers may make of their departments, procedures for consultation by the Opposition with departmental officers, travel by ministers and their Opposition counterparts and the continuation of government advertising campaigns.

9.         Adherence to the conventions and practices (which of course have no legal standing) is ultimately the responsibility of the Prime Minister. Where ministers are in doubt about a particular matter, they should raise it with the Prime Minister.



The Role of the Secretary to Cabinet

1.         The Secretary to Cabinet is responsible for arranging the business for, and keeping the minutes of, meetings of the Cabinet and for conveying decisions of the Prime Minister in Cabinet to the appropriate person or authority, and has such other functions as the Prime Minister may from time to time direct.

2.         The Secretary to Cabinet is responsible for the general coordination of all Ministries, and holds periodic meetings of all Permanent Secretaries or their equivalent to maintain official intercommunication and understanding. He or she is responsible for ensuring that the work of the Ministries, which is directed towards the Cabinet or which results from the Cabinet decisions, is properly coordinated, and to this end must maintain close contact with the Permanent Secretaries.

3.         The Permanent Secretaries have a corresponding duty to facilitate the maintenance of this contact. They are the channel through which pass all routine papers submitted to the Prime Minister by Ministries other than the Prime Minister’s Office and all papers intended for the Cabinet Ministers. It is their duty to draw the attention of Ministries to any lack of coordination in them. They will, when so directed by the Prime Minister, through the Secretary to Cabinet, send such papers back for further consideration or clarification.

4.         The Secretary to Cabinet has a special responsibility to the Prime Minister for the proper arrangement of business in Cabinet, for the security of Cabinet documents and the secrecy of Cabinet business, and for the continuous supervision of the work of committees established by the Cabinet.

5.         He or she is responsible for ensuring that no memorandum is circulated for discussion by the Cabinet unless it is in the proper form approved by the Cabinet, and will for this reason be responsible for the final reproduction of all memoranda which are to be presented to the Cabinet.

6.         He or she is responsible for circulating and ensuring that all members of the Cabinet receive copies of memoranda as early as possible before the date fixed for the meeting at which they will be discussed.

7.         He or she attends all meetings of the Cabinet for the purpose of recording Conclusions and is accompanied by at least one or officers of the cabinet Office. He is responsible for giving instructions to his staff to ensure that proceedings of Cabinet are not disturbed. To assist him, Ministers are asked to give general directions that messages are not to be sent to them while in Cabinet unless they are so urgent that they cannot wait until the end of the meeting.

8.         The Secretary to Cabinet is responsible for keeping a special list of all Conclusions of the Cabinet that require further action before being reconsidered in the Cabinet, or which include an invitation to a member to submit a memorandum. The Secretary periodically circulates lists of such conclusions to ensure that decisions of the Cabinet on which further action is required in Cabinet are not overlooked. The planning of work, as far as possible in advance, of the subjects likely to come before the Cabinet or committees of the Cabinet.

9.         It is the duty of the Secretary to Cabinet to receive all documents of the Cabinet returned by members when those documents are no longer required for current administration and to receive all Cabinet documents from Ministers when they cease to be Ministers.

10.       He or she is responsible for circulating to members of Cabinet for their information copies of official dispatches from the Head of State.

11.       He or she arranges for the binding of Cabinet Conclusions and Minutes for record purposes and is responsible for the preparation of an index of all decisions and for the maintenance of such other books or records as are necessary for the efficient conduct of Cabinet business.

12.       The Secretary to the Cabinet has the overall responsibility for the efficient management of the Cabinet business, and (subject to the Prime Minister) for the acceptance of Cabinet memoranda, the approval of agenda and the preparation of the conclusions and other records of the Cabinet. He attends all meetings of the Cabinet and, jointly with the Deputy Secretary makes notes of proceedings and (in the case of lengthy meetings) drafts part of the conclusions.

13.       He is also responsible for conveying the decisions of the Government to the appropriate person or authority, and for verifying that they are carried into effect. He must brief the Prime Minister on related matters not covered by individual memoranda prepared in Ministries.

14.       He should preside or be present at appropriate official conferences and meetings, e.g. of Permanent Secretaries, and in other ways must contrive to be fully aware of all government activities at both the ministerial and the official levels and to examine reports in the local, regional and international press.

15.       Personal duties include examine in the first instance all incoming mail, papers and files in particular scrutinising all papers submitted in draft by Ministries for consideration by the Cabinet, and referring back for further consultation if this appears to be required before circulation; and general arrangements for the swearing in of an Officer administering the Government and new members of the Cabinet.



Committees of Cabinet Ministers

1.         Whenever there is a particularly complicated subject which the Cabinet wishes to consider or which should go to the Cabinet, a committee of the Cabinet may be formed to ensure that all aspects of the problem are thoroughly examined before the Cabinet is called upon to take a decision. A Committee is of particular value if the implications of a problem concern several Ministers. It is also useful when it is desirable to avoid taking up the time of the Cabinet over the consideration of a large number of minor matters.

2.         Committees may consist of members of the Cabinet only, or of members of the Cabinet and officials, or of officials only. In particular circumstances representatives of the Provincial Executives may be members of a Committee. Where Cabinet committees consist of officials and members of Cabinet, any decision made by the committee must go back to full Cabinet for approval.

3.         A Committee can shorten discussion in Cabinet by a preliminary examination of a problem which narrows the points outstanding for Cabinet’s decision. The system enables the Chairman of Committee to put to the Cabinet in a single memorandum matters which might otherwise come before it in the form of papers submitted by several members. There is the added advantage that persons who are not members of the Cabinet but who have special knowledge of a subject can be members of a Committee.

4.         Clarity that any discussion on a subject by a Committee should be on the basis of a memorandum. There may be times, however, when a Committee is authorized to investigate a certain subject that a preliminary meeting may be necessary at which decisions may be made regarding the preparation of papers for subsequent proper discussion. If a Chairman of a Committee is a member of the Cabinet he will submit the report of the Committee to the Cabinet. If he is not, then the Chairman’s report will be submitted by the member of the Cabinet primarily responsible for the subject.

5.         When the formation of a Committee has been approved by the Cabinet, the Secretary to Cabinet should verify that the composition and terms of reference are complete and in accordance with the Conclusions of the Cabinet authorizing the committee. If no precise terms of reference have been laid down these should be prepared by him, or her, self. If there is legitimate doubt about the terms of reference they should be drafted by him or her and put to the Cabinet for approval.

6.         The Secretary to Cabinet appoints Secretaries to a Committee. One secretary should normally be himself or the Deputy Secretary to Cabinet, and an officer in the Cabinet Office or Ministry primarily concerned with the subject to be examined by the Committee will generally act as a joint secretary.

7.         The first paper in a Committee memoranda series will be issued by the Secretary to Cabinet and will set out the authority for appointment, the membership and the terms of reference.

8.         Memoranda for a Committee may be submitted by any member of the Committee, including official members. The proceedings of a Committee are conducted in the same manner as a Cabinet meeting, but the record of a meeting of a Committee is referred to as “Minutes” and not as “Conclusions”.

9.         The method adopted by members of Cabinet for discussion among themselves on questions of policy is essentially a domestic matter and is of no concern to the Legislature or the public. The doctrine of collective responsibility of the Cabinet depends in practice upon there being every opportunity for full and frank discussion between them, and such discussion might be hampered if the public could always expect to know by what process it is carried on. For these reasons it is not usually the practice to disclose particulars of the composition and terms of reference of Committees of the Cabinet, nor even their existence unless there be good reason to the contrary.



The Drafter’s Guide

1.         The purpose of the Drafter’s Guide is to assist ministers’ senior political advisers, departmental policy advisers and Cabinet Office staff in the preparation of Cabinet submissions and memoranda.

2.       In addition to the Guide, the Cabinet Secretariat issues circulars to ministers’ and senior political advisers and to Permanent Secretaries or those officers appointed by them to handle Cabinet documents.  From time to time which advise of changes to the preparation or handling of submissions and memoranda.

3.       The contents of the Guide are as follows:

(a)       Overview - How to Write a Good Cabinet Memorandum

(b)       Preparation of Cabinet Memorandum Checklist Sheet

(c)        Attachments:

(i)         Sample of a Memorandum;

(ii)        Sample of a Gazette Notice

(a)       Overview - How to Write a Good Cabinet Document

Any cabinet document is required to meet the intent of the Cabinet Handbook.  It should be easily understood and grounded in fact. It should:

·         State in concise and precise terms the purpose for which the document it is intended. Ensure that the document is accompanied by relevant statistics and facts. Simple unsupported statements and assertions should not be included.

·         Identify any financial impact, either immediate or ongoing. It should also indicate whether it is a new initiative or whether it is within your current budget allocation.

·         Acknowledge any prior cabinet decisions and relevant departures from previously agreed policy.

·         Make clear reference to current and existing policy. For example, the Programme of Action 2002-2005; the NERDP 2003-2005; Prime Minister’s and Minister’s speeches: legislation and tabling speeches; parliamentary statements etc.

·         Give an assessment of the likely impact on relevant stakeholders and an indication of their degree of support.

·         Provide evidence of appropriate consultation with relevant agencies and other bodies, particularly, the Ministry of Finance, the Attorney General and Caucus.

·         Identify the degree of priority, that is, whether it is urgent, important or whether it is required to meet a particular timeframe.

·         Specify whether it is necessary for insertion in the current, or future, legislative programmes, that is, whether a Bill is necessary and the degree of urgency.

·         Give some options for how and when the decision is to be announced to the civil society.

·         Provide a list of actions necessary for completion prior to the announcement, for example, advice to unions, important stakeholders, civil society groupings etc.

(b)       Preparation of a Cabinet Memorandum Checklist Sheet

The checklist sheet should include the following information: 


(Full Title of Minister)



(Minister’s name and title of the portfolio from which this memorandum is submitted)


Date of Memorandum

(Date of Minister’s approval to be inserted)


Main purpose

(If not obvious from the title, brief statement of the main purpose)


Resources required for implementation

(Financial Impact Statement to be attached including expenditure and revenue)


Previous Cabinet Decisions


(Show dates of related Decisions)

(Conforms with Decisions)


Departure from previous Cabinet Decision

(Bill departs from Decision in one or a number of respects - see paragraphs x or y)


Relation to existing policy


(Reference to Programme of Action, NERRDP etc.)

Consultations undertaken




(Priority for consideration by Cabinet or reasons, if any, for urgency)


Legislative Programming

(Whether the Bill needs to go to the next Parliamentary session etc.)


Announcement of Decision

(Proposal as to the timing of the announcement, or if an announcement is not necessary)


Action required before the Announcement


(Advice to relevant parliamentary, party, stakeholders or civil society groups or action necessary)



(c)       Attachments 

(i)         Sample of Memorandum

Submissions and Memorandum are written in the same format. The only difference is that the Cabinet Office will provide the appropriate number if the document is a memorandum. The following serves as an example.





This Document is the Property of the





21st January 2004                                                                                        Copy:………


Memorandum by the Minister for Home Affairs



Honorable Colleagues, there has been an administrative oversight in the 2004 Budget to cater for the Santa City Council Elections.  This paper is brought before Cabinet for immediate approval for expenditure to meet the cost of registration, revision and elections for the Santa City Council. 

Although registration has already started on December 15th 2003, those involved may not be remunerated if funds are not available.  Most are either using their own resources or are sacrificing their time without being paid.  Such an experience should not be allowed to hinder progress on these very important requirements especially when my Ministry is desirous of having the elections quickly.  Any further delay would only slow down progress in the work of the Assistant Registration Officers.  Already, the deadline for close of registration has had to be extended for another week for full completion of the registration partly due to lack of funds to meet the cost of allowances for the field officers doing registration. 

Election date is set for March 30th 2004.  Regarding the relevant issues, my Ministry is continuing to ensure that progress on registration are completed in time and revision of the voters list is accomplished quickly to clear the way for nominations of intending candidates.  At the same time, within the short period of time remaining, there must be enough publicity to give the voters of Santa the opportunity to vote wisely and support councilors who would be more committed and accountable for their actions at the City Council.  It is important therefore that funds are made available for this purpose quickly so that publicity can be arranged with the media. 

In order to address the apparent lack of financial provision, Cabinet is requested to sanction allocation of funds as provided for in the attached estimates for expenditure provided by the City Council.  Cabinet is also asked to take note that for the elections, the bulk of expenditure is tied down to remuneration and other logistical support costs as outlined in the attached estimated cost break-down. 

CABINET is hereby requested to: 



the budget oversight



the sum of $658,038 as special allocation to meet the cost of the Santa City Council Elections



a submission to Republic of China for funding of the elections if it is not possible within the Government Budget support System



the Town Clerk of the Santa City Council to improve the Registry Process







(ii)        Sample of a Gazette Notice






PO Box G1,





REF: CAB: 1/7/35                                                                       16 January 2004


General Manager

Solomon Islands Printers Ltd

P O Box 1363



Dear Sir,




Please see attached Legal Instruments for Publication on today’s date, Friday 16th January 2004.




Gazettal Notice

1.    THE OATHS ACT [Cap. 23]


·         Commissioners:

            JOHN SMITH
            JOSES NITE


Legal Notice

2.   THE FISHERIES ACT 1998 [No. 6 of 1998]



Thank you

Yours faithfully



Ruth Toke [Mrs.]

for:  Secretary to the Prime Minister

Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet


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