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History of the Council of Ministers

The Council of Ministers functions as the government's collegiate body and is comprised of the president of the government, the cabinet ministers and, as the case may be, the vice-presidents of the government.

The origins of the Council of Ministers date back to 19 November 1823, the date on which King Ferdinand VII enacted a decree aimed at the then First Secretary of State, Víctor Damián Sáez, whereby the Council of Ministers was created, from which the following paragraph is worth singling out:

"All matters of general use will be tackled thereat; each minister will take stock of the affairs corresponding to the secretariat under his charge; it will receive my resolutions and ensure that they are carried out. The Council agreements will be set out in a ledger including the reasons behind them. When I am not in attendance, you will preside over the meeting as my First Secretary of State, and the head of the Ministry for Justice will set out the minutes in the ledger established to this end".

The Council of Ministers met meet once or twice per week, it was comprised of the five ministerial heads -six once the Ministry of Home Affairs was added -plus a secretary. On those occasions when the secretary was not present, this function was carried out by the Minister for Justice or his replacement.

Originally there was no fixed place to hold the meetings, although reference is made to the "habitual place" which was the Secretariat of the Navy.

The government currently meets once a week, normally on Friday mornings at Moncloa Palace.

Bibliography: "1812-1992. EL ARTE DE GOBERNAR. Historia del Consejo de Ministros y de la Presidencia del Gobierno" [THE ART OF GOVERNING. A history of the Council of Ministers and of the Presidency of the Government]