House of Commons Library

Ministerial Directions

Published Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Ministerial directions are a potential part of the process of approving expenditure of public money. Use of ministerial directions is rare, but preparations for Brexit have included an instruction to Accounting Officers to include them in planning for approval of spending in advance of Royal Assent to relevant legislation.

Jump to full report >>

Ministerial directions are a potential part of the process of approving expenditure of public money.  If a UK Governmenet Minister decides to instruct a Departmental Accounting Officer (a senior civil servant) to proceed with spending, contrary to the advice which has been given by the Accounting Officer, the written instruction is called a ministerial direction.

Use of ministerial directions is rare, but preparations for Brexit have included an instruction to Accounting Officers to include them in planning for approval of spending in advance of Royal Assent to relevant legislation. This has raised the profile of ministerial directions.

This short guide to ministerial directions sets out the steps to be followed by a Minister, the Civil Servants and the Comptroller and Auditor General. Signposts are provided to analysis of instances of ministerial directions since 1990 and the instructions for their use issued in October 2017, as part of Brexit planning.  

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8412

Author: Hazel Armstrong

Topics: Central government, Public administration

Share this page

Stay up to date

  • Subscribe to RSS feed Subscribe to Email alerts Commons Briefing papers

House of Commons Library

The House of Commons Library provides research, analysis and information services for MPs and their staff.