Minister without portfolio

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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 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 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 future 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 had previously 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 1991.


The position of a Minister without portfolio was first created in 1918, with Emmanouil Repoulis being the first Minister without portfolio. Previously, the term had been used to describe Prime Ministers who had not undertaken any secondary Ministerial position (e.g. Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Prominent politicians like Georgios Papandreou, Panagiotis Kanellopoulos, Napoleon Zervas and Spyros Markezinis served as Ministers without portfolio during their career, while novelist Nikos Kazantzakis had a brief, 46-day-long tenure as Minister without portfolio in Sofoulis' 1945 cabinet.

In 1991, the position was renamed to Minister of State; the last person to be designated Minister without portfolio and simultaneously the first Minister of State, is Mikis Theodorakis.




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. Although not explicitly forbidden, Law No. 39/2008 on State Ministries mandated that a ministry must have specific function and responsibilities and also must have minimum number of directorates and other ministerial apparatuses, thus formation of minister without portfolio currently unlikely in post-Reformation Indonesia.

Below is the list of ministers without portfolio ever existed in Indonesian history.

Presidential Cabinet (19 August – 14 November 1945)

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

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]

TitleGovtMinisterAppt to govtDept createdDept
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] On 25 November 2022, Heather Humphreys was again appointed as Minister for Justice to facilitate a second period of six months' maternity leave from December. [27] [28]


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 Kenya, ministers without portfolio are not common. However three individuals have held the position in the country's history. They are:

North Macedonia

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



Ram Sharan Mahat. [32]


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).

The fourth Rutte cabinet has eight ministers without portfolio: Carola Schouten (Poverty, Participation and Pensions), Liesje Schreinemacher (Development Cooperation), Rob Jetten (Climate and Energy), Conny Helder (Long-Term Healthcare and Sport), Christianne van der Wal (Nature and Nitrogen reduction), Franc Weerwind (Legal Protection), Hugo de Jonge (Housing and Urban Development), and Dennis Wiersma (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. [33]


   Liberal    Reform    United    Labour    National
†: Died in office

NamePortraitTerm of OfficePrime Minister
James Carroll JamesCarroll1914.jpg 16 March 189220 February 1896 Ballance
Alfred Cadman Alfred Jerome Cadman (Cropped).jpg 21 December 18999 May 1901
William Montgomery William Montgomery 01.jpg 19 July 18937 November 1895
Mahuta Tāwhiao Mahuta Tawhiao Potatau Te Wherowhero (15015383640).jpg 22 May 19036 August 1906
Āpirana Ngata ApiranaNgata05.jpg 7 January 190928 March 1912 Ward
Peter Buck RangiHiroa1904.jpg 28 March 191210 July 1912 Mackenzie
Thomas Buxton Thomas Buxton.jpg 28 March 191210 July 1912
Māui Pōmare Maui Pomare.jpg 10 July 19123 May 1916 Massey
William Fraser William Fraser MP.jpg 27 July 192016 July 1923†
David Guthrie David Guthrie.jpg 25 June 192431 March 1927†
Heaton Rhodes Robert Heaton Rhodes Jr (1915).jpg 18 January 192610 December 1928
Francis Bell Sir Francis Henry Dillon Bell, ca 1924.jpg 24 May 192625 August 1928
Sir Joseph Ward Joseph Ward c. 1906.jpg 28 May 19308 July 1930† Forbes
Robert Masters Robert Masters, 1922.jpg 20 August 193022 September 1931
Mark Fagan Mark Fagan.jpg 6 December 193518 July 1939 Savage
David Wilson David Wilson MLC.jpg 18 November 193930 May 1940
Paraire Karaka Paikea Paraire Karaka Paikea.jpg 21 January 19416 May 1943†
Eruera Tirikatene Eruera Tirikatene.jpg 26 May 194313 December 1949
Adam Hamilton Adam Hamilton (1926).jpg 16 July 19405 October 1942
Gordon Coates Joseph Gordon Coates, 1931.jpg 16 July 19405 October 1942
William Polson William John Polson.jpg 15 March 195012 December 1950 Holland
Sidney Holland Sidney George Holland (1953) 2.png 20 September 195712 December 1957 Holyoake
David Seath David Seath.jpg 24 January 196220 December 1963
Hugh Watt Hugh Watt, 1951 (1).jpg 13 March 197512 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: [35]


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.

Cabinet-level officials are president-designated additional members of the Cabinet, which can vary under each president. Most of them head no department, and some of them are not officers of the United States. For example, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget is the head of the Office of Management and Budget, which is an office within a department, namely the Executive Office of the President of the United States headed by the White House Chief of Staff. Similar situations apply (or applied) for the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, the Trade Representative, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, National Security Advisor, Director of the Office of National Drug Control 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, [36] Arthur Burns, [37] and Ivanka Trump. [38]

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 and/or the President wouldn't or couldn't, such as with his administration of federal relief efforts in the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927.[ citation needed ]


In the first government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam founded by Hồ Chí Minh after the August Revolution in September 1945, Cù Huy Cận and Nguyễn Văn Xuân were assigned the "Minister without Porfolio" positions. [39] In January 1946, the "Provisional Coalition Government" was installed, and Nguyen Van Xuan retained the post of Minister without Portfolio while Cu Huy Can was elevated to the Ministry of Agriculture. [40] From November 1946 to early 1955, the Viet Minh (and later the Worker's Party)-led "New Government" fought against the return of France to Indochina and the post Ministers without Portfolio was held by Nguyễn Văn Tố, Đặng Văn Hướng and Bồ Xuân Luật. [41] Since the 1954 Geneva Convention, the position has been vacant, except briefly during the 1960-1964 cabinet elected by the 2nd National Assembly, where Lê Văn Hiến occupied the post "Minister without Porfolio and Deputy Chair of the State Planning Commission." [42]

In 2014, Prime Minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng tasked the Cabinet Office to examine the possibility of re-introducing the post "Minister without Porfolio." [43] There have been no further developments since.

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The president of Dáil Éireann, later also president of the Irish Republic, was the leader of the revolutionary Irish Republic of 1919–1922. The office was created in the Dáil Constitution adopted by Dáil Éireann, the parliament of the Republic, at its first meeting in January 1919. This provided that the president was elected by the Dáil as head of a cabinet called the Ministry of Dáil Éireann. During this period, Ireland was deemed part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in international law, but the Irish Republic had made a unilateral Declaration of Independence on 21 January 1919. On 6 December 1922, after the ratification of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the Irish Free State was recognised as a sovereign state, and the position of the President of Dáil Éireann was replaced by that of President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State but, as a Dominion of the British Empire, King George V was head of state.

The Constitution of Dáil Éireann, more commonly known as the Dáil Constitution, was the constitution of the 1919–22 Irish Republic. It was adopted by the First Dáil at its first meeting on 21 January 1919 and remained in operation until 6 December 1922. As adopted it consisted of five articles. Article 1 declared that the Dáil had "full powers to legislate" and would consist of representatives elected in elections conducted by the British government. For the exercise of executive power it created a cabinet, answerable to the Dáil, called the Ministry, headed by a prime minister called the "Príomh Aire". The constitution was limited to an outline of the functions of the legislature and the executive; the Dáil later established a system of Dáil Courts, but there was no provision in the constitution on a judiciary. The final article of the constitution declared that it was intended to be a provisional document, in the sense that it was subject to amendment. As adopted the constitution came to only around 370 words. In comparison, the modern Constitution of Ireland has approximately 16,000 words. Overall, the structure of the document was as follows:

There were two Governments of the 21st Dáil, which was elected at the 1977 general election on 16 June 1977. The 15th Government of Ireland was led by Jack Lynch as Taoiseach, while the 16th Government of Ireland was led by Charles Haughey. Both were single-party majority Fianna Fáil governments.

The Government of the 12th Dáil or the 4th Government of Ireland was the government of Ireland formed after the 1944 general election held on 30 May. It was a single-party Fianna Fáil government led by Éamon de Valera as Taoiseach. Fianna Fáil had been in office since the 1932 general election.

The Government of the 10th Dáil or the 2nd Government of Ireland was the government of Ireland formed after the 1938 general election held on 17 June. It was a single-party Fianna Fáil government led by Éamon de Valera as Taoiseach. Fianna Fáil had been in office since the 1932 general election.

The Government of the 3rd Dáil was first both concurrently the 2nd Provisional Government and the 5th Ministry of Dáil Éireann, formed after the 1922 general election held on 16 June 1922, and then the 1st Executive Council of the Irish Free State, formed after the establishment of the Irish Free State. They were led by W. T. Cosgrave, who had become the leader of the Pro-Treaty wing of Sinn Féin and on 27 April 1923 became the first leader of the Cumann na nGaedheal.

A Minister of State in Ireland is of non-cabinet rank attached to one or more Departments of State of the Government of Ireland and assists the Minister of the Government responsible for that Department.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Minister for Posts and Telegraphs</span> Former Irish government cabinet minister

The Minister for Posts and Telegraphs was the holder of a position in the Government of Ireland. From 1924 until 1984 – when it was abolished – the minister headed the Department of Posts and Telegraphs.

The Minister for Labour was originally a position in the Government of the Irish Republic, the self-declared state which was established in 1919 by Dáil Éireann, the parliamentary assembly made up of the majority of Irish MPs elected in the 1918 general election. Constance Markievicz was the first person to hold the post. The office did not continue into the Executive Council of the Irish Free State.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Government of Ireland</span> Ministerial cabinet exercising executive authority in the country of the Republic of Ireland

The Government of Ireland is the cabinet that exercises executive authority in Ireland.

The Executive Council was the cabinet and de facto executive branch of government of the 1922–1937 Irish Free State. Formally, executive power was vested in the Governor-General on behalf of the King. In practice, however, it was the Council that governed, since the Governor-General was bound to act on its advice. The Executive Council included a prime minister called the President of the Executive Council and a deputy prime minister called the Vice-President. A member of the Council was called an executive minister, as distinct from an extern minister who had charge of a department without being in the Council.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures</span> Former Irish government cabinet minister

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An Act to effect certain amendments of the Constitution in relation to the executive authority and power and in relation to the performance of certain executive functions.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ministers and Secretaries Acts</span>

The Ministers and Secretaries Acts 1924 to 2020 is the legislation which governs the appointment of ministers to the Government of Ireland and the allocation of functions between departments of state. It is subject in particular to the provisions of Article 28 of the Constitution of Ireland. The Acts allow for the appointment of between 7 and 15 Ministers of Government across 17 Departments, and for the appointment of up to 20 junior ministers, titled Ministers of State, to assist the Ministers of Government in their powers and duties.

A Department of State of Ireland is a department or ministry of the Government of Ireland. The head of such a department is a minister termed a Minister of the Government; prior to 1977 such ministers were called Ministers of State, a term now used for junior (non-cabinet) ministers. Most members of the government are Ministers of the Government, though there may occasionally be a minister without portfolio who does not head a department of state. The law regarding the departments of state and ministers of the government is based in the Constitution of Ireland, primarily in Article 28; legislative detail is given in the Ministers and Secretaries Acts 1924 to 2020.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Department of Finance (Ireland)</span> Irish government department

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