Minister without portfolio


A minister without portfolio is either a government minister with no specific responsibilities or a minister who does not head a particular ministry. The sinecure is particularly common in countries ruled by coalition governments and a cabinet with decision-making authority wherein a minister without portfolio, while they may not head any particular office or ministry, may still receive a ministerial salary and has the right to cast a vote in cabinet decisions. In some countries where the executive branch is not composed of a coalition of parties and, more often, in countries with purely presidential systems of government, such as the United States, the position of minister without portfolio (or an equivalent position) is uncommon.[citation needed]


In Albania, "Minister without portfolio" are considered members of the government who generally are not in charge of a special department, do not have headquarters or offices and usually do not have administration or staff. This post of was first introduced in 1918, during the Përmeti II government, otherwise known as the Government of Durrës. The members of this cabinet were referred to as Delegatë pa portofol (delegate without portfolio). The name "minister" was used two years later, during the government of Sulejman Delvina.[1] In the 1990s it was common the usage of the name Sekretar Shteti (Secretary of State) to refer to such a position. Mostly these roles were given to smaller allies by the leading parties. Nowadays the name Ministër i Shtetit (State Minister or Minister of State) is used.


Willie Kelly was given the title in the Cook Ministry from June 1913 to September 1914.

Stanley Bruce was given the title of minister without portfolio when he took up his position in 1932 as the Commonwealth Minister in London. He was given the title by Lyons' Cabinet so that he could better represent the PM and his colleagues free from the limitations of a portfolio. In this case the title was a promotion and carried considerable responsibilities.[2]


Bangladesh appoints ministers without portfolio during cabinet reshuffles or fresh appointments. Ministers are not usually appointed without portfolio as a coalition negotiation – all long run ministers end up with a portfolio. Suranjit Sengupta was a minister without portfolio in Sheikh Hasina's second government.[3]



While the minister without portfolio is seen by some as a mere sinecure appointment, it has been a role that numerous political notables have played over time, including former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, who filled the role in a Pearson cabinet in the 1960s; John Turner also "kept a seat warm" in a Pearson cabinet. Notable Conservatives who filled the role include R. B. Bennett, and Arthur Meighen; however, Meighen served this role after he had been prime minister.

The title of minister without portfolio has been used off and on; in recent times, though, the title has fallen out of favour, and the penultimate minister without portfolio, Gilles Lamontagne, was promoted to postmaster general in 1978. The practice has continued primarily under the guise of ministers of state without responsibilities in the ministers' titles.

The position has also been filled on the federal or provincial level by experienced politicians near the end of their careers as a way of allowing them to counsel the government and take on projects without the burdens associated with administering a government department.

In January 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Jim Carr as a minister without portfolio, in addition to his role as special representative to the Prairies. Carr served as a cabinet minister until November 2019, leaving as a consequence of his diagnosis with multiple myeloma. [4]



Three "control ministers" served as ministers without portfolio during World War I.

After the Liberation of Denmark in May 1945, the first Danish cabinet included four ministers without portfolio. Among these were Danish ambassador to the U.S. Henrik Kauffmann, who had conducted his own foreign policy throughout the war and refused to follow orders from Copenhagen as long as Denmark remained occupied by a foreign power. Kauffmann served in this capacity from 12 May to 7 November 1945. The three other holders of this title had joined the cabinet a few days before – Aksel Larsen (Communist Party of Denmark), Kr. Juul Christensen (Danish Unity) and Frode Jakobsen (Social Democrats).

Lise Østergaard held a position as minister without portfolio with special attention to foreign policy issues in Anker Jørgensen's cabinet from 26 February 1977 to 28 February 1980.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen appointed Bertel Haarder as minister without portfolio, but effectively Minister for European Affairs. Haarder served in this capacity from 27 November 2001 to 18 February 2005. The reason for appointing a minister without a ministry was the Danish European Union Presidency of 2002. Haarder was considered the most experienced Danish politician on European affairs.



Minister without portfolio is not a common type of cabinet position, and the last minister without portfolio served in 1949. The most famous one was Juho Kusti Paasikivi, who was a part of the "Triumvirate" of Prime Minister Risto Ryti, Minister of Foreign Affairs Väinö Tanner and Paasikivi during the Winter War and the year 1940.[5]

Mikko Luopajärvi (Agrarian Union) 17.4.1919 – 15.8.1919(Kaarlo Castren Cabinet), 15.8.1919 – 5.1.1920 (Vennola I Cabinet)[6]

Kalle Aukusti Lohi (Agrarian Union) 31.3.1925 – 31.12.1925 (Tulenheimo Cabinet)[6]

Matti Paasivuori (Social Democratic Party) 13.12.1926 – 15.11.1927 (Tanner Cabinet)[6]

Kalle Jutila (Agrarian Union) 17.12.1927 – 16.10.1928 (Sunila I Cabinet)[6]

Juhani Leppälä (Agrarian Union) 16.8.1929 – 27.8.1929 (Kallio III Cabinet)[6]

Eljas Erkko (Progressive Party) 20.10.1932 – 25.11.1932 (Sunila II Cabinet)[6]

Ernst von Born (Swedish People's Party) 13.10.1939 – 1.12.1939 (Cajander III Cabinet)[6]

Juho Kusti Paasikivi (Unaffiliated/No party) 1.12.1939 – 27.3.1940 (Ryti I Cabinet)[6]

Mauno Pekkala (Social Democratic Party) 17.11.1944 – 24.11.1944 (Paasikivi II Cabinet)[6]

Hertta Kuusinen (Finnish People's Democratic Party) 26.5.1948 – 4.6.1948 (Pekkala Cabinet)[6]

Aleksi Aaltonen (Social Democratic Party) 29.7.1948 – 30.7.1948 (Fagerholm I Cabinet)[6]

Unto Varjonen (Social Democratic Party) 29.7.1949 – 19.8.1949 (Fagerholm I Cabinet)[6]


Since 1949, a Federal Minister for Special Affairs (Bundesminister für besondere Aufgaben) is a member of the Federal Government that does not have charge of a Federal Ministry, although the ministry is now commonly assigned to the Heads of the German Chancellery to give this important government functionary cabinet-rank. The ministry was first created in October 1953 to give a ministry level position to Franz Josef Strauss, but has been used almost exclusively for the Head of the Federal Chancellery since the 1960s. A notable exception occurred in the course of German reunification when four members of East Germany's last government were made "Minister for Special Affairs" from October 3, 1990 to January of 1991.




Since the inception of the state, Indonesia had ministers without portfolio, usually given the title Menteri Negara ('State Minister'). The number was not fixed, entirely depended on the behest of the President. Below is the list of ministers without portfolio in each Cabinet.

Presidential Cabinet (19 August – 14 November 1945)

First Sjahrir Cabinet (11 November 1945 – 28 February 1946)

  • Rasjidi (on religious affairs)

Third Sjahrir Cabinet (5 October 1946 – 27 July 1947)

Sixth Development Cabinet (6 June – 1 October 1997)

The cabinet was unique, with President Suharto moved the Minister of Information Harmoko to the office of State Minister of Special Affairs (Indonesian: Menteri Negara Urusan Khusus) on 6 June 1997. The Ministry of Special Affairs was dissolved on 1 October 1997, following the inauguration of next-term's parliament and the appointment of Harmoko as its speaker.


The Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 1939 allows a Minister to be a member of the Government of Ireland who does not have charge of a Department of State, such a person to be known as a "Minister without portfolio".[10] Such a minister may be given a specific style or title. The only substantive minister without portfolio has been Frank Aiken, the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures during World War II.[11] By the Emergency Powers Act 1939 then in force, the Minister for Defence was able to delegate some competences to him.[12][13]

On a number of occasions a minister has been appointed to an incoming government with the title of a new Department of State. Between the date of appointment and the date of creation of the department, such a minister is formally a minister without portfolio.[14]

Title Govt Minister Appt to govt Dept created Dept
Minister for Economic Planning and Development 15th Martin O'Donoghue 8 July 1977[15] 13 December 1977[16][17] Department of Economic Planning and Development
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform 29th Brendan Howlin 9 March 2011[18] 6 July 2011[19][20] Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
Minister for Rural and Community Development 31st Michael Ring 14 June 2017[21] 19 July 2017[22] Department of Rural and Community Development
Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science 32nd Simon Harris 27 June 2020[23] 2 August 2020[24] Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science

When Helen McEntee took six months' maternity leave on 28 April 2021, her portfolio as Minister for Justice was reassigned to Heather Humphreys, in addition to Humphreys's existing portfolio as Minister for Social Protection and Minister for Rural and Community Development. McEntee remained a member of the coalition government as minister without portfolio,[25] and was reassigned to the Department of Justice on 1 November 2021.[26]


It is common practice in Israel to appoint ministers without portfolio as part of the coalition negotiations, as it allows small coalition partners a seat at the cabinet table. All cabinets in recent years have had at least some such appointment. The Governance Law passed in 2013 forbade ministers without portfolio effectively ending the practice, however in spite of some objections, after the 2015 elections this issue was revisited in the Knesset and it was allowed for the practice to resume. The full alphabetical list of ministers without portfolio since 1949 is:


In the Italian government, ministers without portfolio are nominated by the President of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister) and formally appointed by the President of the Republic to lead particular departments directly under the Presidency (or Presidium) of the Council of Ministers. Unlike the office of State Undersecretary to the Presidency, who fulfils duties in the Prime Minister's remit, ministers without portfolio enjoy the full status of ministers but do not lead an independent ministry. Departments on equalities, European affairs and relations with regions, for example, are usually led by ministers without portfolio.

The Monti Cabinet had six ministers without portfolio:

The Letta Cabinet had eight ministers without portfolio:

The Renzi Cabinet had three ministers without portfolio:

North Macedonia

As of 2017, ministers without portfolio (министер без ресор) are:

  • Ramiz Merko
  • Edmond Ademi
  • Robert Popovski
  • Zoran Sapurik
  • Zorica Apostolovska
  • Adnan Kahil
  • Samka Ibraimovski


  • Carmelo Abela (2020–)[28]
  • Joe Mizzi (1996–1998)
  • Konrad Mizzi (2016–2017) On April 28, 2016, following the appearance of his name in the Panama Papers leaks, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced in a press conference at the Auberge de Castille that Konrad Mizzi was to be removed from the position of Health and Energy Minister. Mizzi would however retain the title of minister without portfolio, working within the Office of the Prime Minister.[29][30]


Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat.[31]


A minister without portfolio in the Netherlands is a minister that does not head a specific ministry, but assumes the same power and responsibilities as a minister that does. The minister is responsible for a specific part of another minister's policy field. In that sense, a minister without portfolio is comparable to a staatssecretaris (state secretary or junior minister) in Dutch politics, who also falls under another ministry and is responsible for a specific part of that minister's policy field. However, one distinct difference is that a minister without portfolio is a member of the council of ministers and can vote in it, whereas a state secretary is not. The minister for development cooperation has always been a minister without portfolio.

In the second Balkenende cabinet there were three ministers without portfolio: Agnes van Ardenne (Development Cooperation), Rita Verdonk (Integration and Immigration) and Alexander Pechtold (Government Reform and Kingdom Relations).

In the fourth Balkenende cabinet there were three ministers without portfolio: Eberhard van der Laan (Housing, Neighbourhoods and Integration), Bert Koenders (Development Cooperation) and André Rouvoet, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Youth and Family.

The second Rutte cabinet had two ministers without portfolio: Stef Blok (Housing and the Central Government Sector) and Lilianne Ploumen (Development Cooperation).

The third Rutte cabinet has four ministers without portfolio: Sigrid Kaag (Development Cooperation), Sander Dekker (Legal Protection), Martin van Rijn (Medical Care), and Arie Slob (Primary and Secondary Education and Media).

New Zealand

In the First Labour Government from 1935 Mark Fagan was a "minister without portfolio" from 1935 to 1939, as was David Wilson from 1939 to 1949. They were appointed to the upper house and made a "minister without portfolio" to add them to the cabinet although neither were elected to a seat in Parliament.

In the Third National Government, Keith Holyoake was made a Minister of State 1975–77 after he had retired as party leader, and in the Fourth National Government Robin Gray was made a Minister of State 1993–96 after he was replaced as Speaker (though he was also Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs). Both appointments were considered sinecures to avoid their return as 'backbenchers'.

The following were appointed to the Executive Council as ministers without portfolio.[32]


  Liberal   Reform   United   Labour   National
†: Died in office

Name Portrait Term of Office Prime Minister
James Carroll JamesCarroll1914.jpg 16 March 1892 20 February 1896 Ballance
Alfred Cadman Alfred Jerome Cadman (Cropped).jpg 21 December 1899 9 May 1901
William Montgomery William Montgomery 01.jpg 19 July 1893 7 November 1895
Mahuta Tāwhiao Mahuta Tawhiao Potatau Te Wherowhero (15015383640).jpg 22 May 1903 6 August 1906
Āpirana Ngata ApiranaNgata05.jpg 7 January 1909 28 March 1912 Ward
Peter Buck RangiHiroa1904.jpg 28 March 1912 10 July 1912 Mackenzie
Thomas Buxton Thomas Buxton.jpg 28 March 1912 10 July 1912
Māui Pōmare Maui Pomare.jpg 10 July 1912 3 May 1916 Massey
William Fraser William Fraser MP.jpg 27 July 1920 16 July 1923†
David Guthrie David Guthrie.jpg 25 June 1924 31 March 1927†
Heaton Rhodes Robert Heaton Rhodes Jr (1915).jpg 18 January 1926 10 December 1928
Francis Bell Sir Francis Henry Dillon Bell, ca 1924.jpg 24 May 1926 25 August 1928
Sir Joseph Ward Joseph Ward c. 1906.jpg 28 May 1930 8 July 1930† Forbes
Robert Masters Robert Masters, 1922.jpg 20 August 1930 22 September 1931
Mark Fagan Mark Fagan.jpg 6 December 1935 18 July 1939 Savage
David Wilson David Wilson MLC.jpg 18 November 1939 30 May 1940
Paraire Karaka Paikea Paraire Karaka Paikea.jpg 21 January 1941 6 May 1943†
Eruera Tirikatene Eruera Tirikatene.jpg 26 May 1943 13 December 1949
Adam Hamilton Adam Hamilton (1926).jpg 16 July 1940 5 October 1942
Gordon Coates Joseph Gordon Coates, 1931.jpg 16 July 1940 5 October 1942
William Polson William John Polson.jpg 15 March 1950 12 December 1950 Holland
Sidney Holland Sidney George Holland (1953) 2.png 20 September 1957 12 December 1957 Holyoake
David Seath David Seath.jpg 24 January 1962 20 December 1963
Hugh Watt Hugh Watt, 1951 (1).jpg 13 March 1975 12 December 1975 Rowling


From 2009 to 2013 Karl Eirik Schjøtt-Pedersen (Labour) was a Minister without Portfolio and Chief of Staff in the Prime Ministers Office, where his job was to co-ordinate within government.


During the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines, then-Senate President Manuel Roxas was appointed minister without portfolio by the Japanese Government.[citation needed]


Following the Carnation Revolution, several politicians were made ministers without portfolio:

After the 1st Constitutional Government (1976–1978), there haven't been any appointments of ministers without portfolio.

A similar but not sinecural cabinet position, that of Minister Adjunct (ministro adjunto), who does not head a particular ministry but is instead tasked with the general interministerial measures found in the government programme, has been created in some Portuguese governments.


From 2007 to 2008, Dragan Đilas was a "minister without portfolio" in charge of the National Investment Plan.


In Singapore, the appointment holder is known as a 'Minister in the Prime Minister's Office'.



In the Executive Yuan of the Republic of China, there are several ministers without portfolio at once. Currently, they are:[34]


President Jakaya Kikwete appointed Professor Mark Mwandosya as a minister without portfolio in 2012.


Since 2015, the cabinet list has included a minister without portfolio:

United Kingdom

United States

The Vice President of the United States is a member of the Cabinet but heads no department. As such, the Vice President may be assigned to policy areas of the President's choosing such as foreign diplomacy (Richard Nixon), space programs (Lyndon B. Johnson) or public health (Mike Pence). Prior to the mid-19th century, the Vice President's position as President of the Senate caused the office to be seen as primarily legislative in nature, and as such they were not assigned to deal with public policy.

An individual who has great influence on government affairs without holding formal office might be described as a "minister without portfolio". Such an appellation is completely unofficial (possibly intended jokingly or disparagingly) and merely serves to underscore the extent of the individual's already-existing influence; it does not grant any new influence or power. Examples include Bernard Baruch,[35] Arthur Burns,[36] and Ivanka Trump.[37]

During his tenure as Secretary of Commerce of the United States the later President Herbert Hoover was sometimes referred to as "Secretary of Commerce and Under-Secretary of all other departments" due to his propensity to get involved in federal government policy outside his department and taking charge when other ministers or the President wouldn't or couldn't, such as his administration of federal relief efforts in the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927.


  1. ^ Dervishi, Kastriot (2006). Historia e Shtetit Shqiptar 1912–2005. Shtëpia Botuese "55". p. 955. ISBN 99943-799-3-3.
  2. ^ "Mr Bruce to be Minister without Portfolio". Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  3. ^ "Bangladesh's PM Sheikh Hasina keeps Home, Foreign Affairs, Defence portfolios". PTI. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  4. ^ Curry, Bill; Walsh, Marieke (12 January 2021). "Trudeau shuffles senior ministers, puts Champagne in Innovation and Garneau at Global Affairs". The Globe and Mail.
  5. ^ "Etusivu". Retrieved 5 October 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Ministerit nimikkeittäin". Valtioneuvosto (in Finnish). Retrieved 5 October 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Just what is a minister without portfolio?". Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  8. ^ "Vajpayee reinducts Mamata Banerjee as cabinet minister without portfolio". India Today. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  9. ^ "Congress: 'Minister without portfolio' is giving 'gyan': Congress hits back at Jaitley's blog". The Times of India.
  10. ^ Section 4 (Minister without portfolio) of the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 1939 (No. 36). 21 December 1939. Act of the Oireachtas. Retrieved 18 July 2020, Irish Statute Book.
  11. ^ Chubb, Basil (1982). Government & Politics of Ireland (2nd ed.). Stanford University Press. p. 170. ISBN 0-8047-1115-1.
  12. ^ Section 6 (Delegation of statutory powers and duties) of the Emergency Powers Act 1939 (No. 28). 3 September 1939. Act of the Oireachtas. Retrieved 18 July 2020, Irish Statute Book.
  13. ^ "Air-Raid Precautions (Approval of Expenditure by Essential Undertakers) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 1944". 30 September 1943. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  14. ^ "Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Bill 1977: Fifth Stage". Dáil debates. Oireachtas. 10 November 1977. Retrieved 8 May 2012. The Minister for Economic Planning and Development is a member of the Government not having charge of a Department of State, who is therefore, under section 4 (2) of the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 1939 a Minister without portfolio. His title is not derived from the title of a Department of which he is head, because it does not exist, but it is a title that has been assigned to him by the Government pursuant to section 4 (3) of the 1939 Act.
  15. ^ "Appointment of Taoiseach and Nomination of Members of Government – Dáil Éireann (21st Dáil) – Tuesday, 5 July 1977". Houses of the Oireachtas. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  16. ^ Section 2 of the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 1977 (No. 27). 6 December 1977. Act of the Oireachtas. Retrieved 8 May 2012, Irish Statute Book.
  17. ^ Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 1977 (Appointed Day) Order 1977 (S.I. No. 377). 9 December 1977. Statutory Instrument of the Government of Ireland. Retrieved 3 August 2020, Irish Statute Book.
  18. ^ "Appointment of Ministers and Ministers of State – Dáil Éireann (31st Dáil) – Tuesday, 15 March 2011". Houses of the Oireachtas. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  19. ^ Section 7 of the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 2011 (No. 10). 4 July 2011. Act of the Oireachtas. Retrieved 2 August 2020, Irish Statute Book.
  20. ^ Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 2011 (Appointed Day) Order 2011 (S.I. No. 401). Statutory Instrument of the Government of Ireland. Retrieved 8 May 2012, Irish Statute Book.
  21. ^ "Appointment of Members of Government and Ministers of State – Dáil Éireann (32nd Dáil) – Tuesday, 20 June 2017". Houses of the Oireachtas. Retrieved 14 January 2020.
  22. ^ Section 1 (Department of Rural and Community Development) of the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 2017 (No. 18). 19 July 2017. Act of the Oireachtas. Retrieved 4 August 2020, Irish Statute Book.
  23. ^ "Appointment of Ministers and Ministers of State – Dáil Éireann (33rd Dáil) – Tuesday, 7 July 2020". Houses of the Oireachtas. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  24. ^ Ministers and Secretaries and Ministerial, Parliamentary, Judicial and Court Offices (Amendment) Act 2020 (No. 10). 2 August 2020. Act of the Oireachtas. Retrieved 21 August 2020, Irish Statute Book.
  25. ^ "Ministerial Responsibilities – Dáil Éireann (33rd Dáil) – Wednesday, 28 Apr 2021". Oireachtas. Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  26. ^ Hurley, Sandra (1 November 2021). "Minister for Justice Helen McEntee returns from maternity leave". RTÉ News and Current Affairs. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  27. ^ "Decreto del Presidente della Repubblica 30 gennaio 2015 – Accettazione delle dimissioni della dott.ssa Maria Carmela LANZETTA dalla carica di Ministro senza portafoglio. (15A00810) (GU Serie Generale n.27 del 3-2-2015)". The official website of the Gazzetta Ufficiale.
  28. ^ "Official: New Cabinet appointed – huge overhaul as only five ministers keep places - The Malta Independent". Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  29. ^ "Updated (3): Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri to remain at Castille; Mallia returns to Cabinet - The Malta Independent". Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  30. ^ "Parlament Ta' Malta". Archived from the original on 26 March 2017. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  31. ^ "Congress leader Mahat to join cabinet". 11 February 2014. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  32. ^ Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First published in 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103.
  33. ^ "Olof Palme". Government Offices of Sweden. 27 February 2016. he was a minister without portfolio from 1963 to 1965
  34. ^ "Premier-designate finalizes his Cabinet lineup". 28 April 2016. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  35. ^ Bauman, Michael (27 June 1984). "Mysterious Baruch". Milwaukee Journal. p. 18. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  36. ^ "The Administration: Minister Without Portfolio". Time. 7 February 1969. Archived from the original on 11 November 2007. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  37. ^ Mahnken, Kevin (6 July 2020). "The Veepstakes Is Taking Over, But the Education World Wants to Know: Who Will Replace DeVos?". The 74. Retrieved 9 July 2020.

External links

  • List of Canadian Ministers Without Portfolio and Ministers of State (Parliament of Canada Website)
  • Taiwanese Ministers Without Portfolio