Sinecure

Sinecure

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A sinecure means an office that requires or involves little or no responsibility, labour, or active service. The term originated in the medieval church, where it signified a post without any responsibility for the "cure of souls", the regular liturgical and pastoral functions of a cleric, but came to be applied to any post, secular or ecclesiastical, that involved little or no actual work. Sinecures have historically provided a potent tool for governments or monarchs to distribute patronage
Patronage
Patronage is the support, encouragement, privilege, or financial aid that an organization or individual bestows to another. In the history of art, arts patronage refers to the support that kings or popes have provided to musicians, painters, and sculptors...

, while recipients are able to store up titles and easy salaries.

A sinecure is not necessarily a figurehead, which generally requires active participation in government, albeit with a lack of power. A sinecure, by contrast, has no real day-to-day responsibilities, but may have de jure
De jure
De jure is an expression that means "concerning law", as contrasted with de facto, which means "concerning fact".De jure = 'Legally', De facto = 'In fact'....

 power.

A sinecure can also be given to an individual whose primary job is in another office, but requires a sinecure title to perform that job. For example, the Government House Leader
Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (Canada)
The Leader of the government in the House of Commons , more commonly known as the Government House Leader, is the Cabinet minister responsible for planning and managing the government's legislative program in the Canadian House of Commons...

 in Canada is often given a sinecure ministry position so that he may become a member of the Cabinet
Cabinet of Canada
The Cabinet of Canada is a body of ministers of the Crown that, along with the Canadian monarch, and within the tenets of the Westminster system, forms the government of Canada...

. Similar examples are the Lord Privy Seal
Lord Privy Seal
The Lord Privy Seal is the fifth of the Great Officers of State in the United Kingdom, ranking beneath the Lord President of the Council and above the Lord Great Chamberlain. The office is one of the traditional sinecure offices of state...

 and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is, in modern times, a ministerial office in the government of the United Kingdom that includes as part of its duties, the administration of the estates and rents of the Duchy of Lancaster...

 in the British cabinet. Other sinecures operate as legal fiction
Legal fiction
A legal fiction is a fact assumed or created by courts which is then used in order to apply a legal rule which was not necessarily designed to be used in that way...

s, such as the British office of Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds, used as a legal excuse for resigning from Parliament
Resignation from the British House of Commons
Members of Parliament sitting in the House of Commons in the United Kingdom are technically forbidden to resign. To circumvent this prohibition, a legal fiction is used...

.

Positions associated with the Cabinet
Cabinet of the United Kingdom
The Cabinet of the United Kingdom is the collective decision-making body of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, composed of the Prime Minister and some 22 Cabinet Ministers, the most senior of the government ministers....

 

  • Lord President of the Council
    Lord President of the Council
    The Lord President of the Council is the fourth of the Great Officers of State of the United Kingdom, ranking beneath the Lord High Treasurer and above the Lord Privy Seal. The Lord President usually attends each meeting of the Privy Council, presenting business for the monarch's approval...

  • Lord Privy Seal
    Lord Privy Seal
    The Lord Privy Seal is the fifth of the Great Officers of State in the United Kingdom, ranking beneath the Lord President of the Council and above the Lord Great Chamberlain. The office is one of the traditional sinecure offices of state...

  • First Secretary of State
    First Secretary of State
    First Secretary of State is an occasionally used title within the Government of the United Kingdom, principally regarded as purely honorific. The title, which implies seniority over all other Secretaries of State, has no specific powers or authority attached to it beyond that of any other Secretary...

  • Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
    Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
    The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is, in modern times, a ministerial office in the government of the United Kingdom that includes as part of its duties, the administration of the estates and rents of the Duchy of Lancaster...

  • Minister without portfolio
    Minister without Portfolio
    A minister without portfolio is either a government minister with no specific responsibilities or a minister that does not head a particular ministry...


Positions associated with Resignation from the House of Commons
Resignation from the British House of Commons
Members of Parliament sitting in the House of Commons in the United Kingdom are technically forbidden to resign. To circumvent this prohibition, a legal fiction is used...

 

  • Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds
    Chiltern Hundreds
    Appointment to the office of Crown Steward and Bailiff of the three Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham is a sinecure appointment which is used as a device allowing a Member of the United Kingdom Parliament to resign his or her seat...

  • Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead
    Manor of Northstead
    The Manor of Northstead was once a collection of fields and farms in the parish of Scalby in the North Riding of Yorkshire in England. By 1600, the manor house had fallen into disrepair and was occupied only by a shepherd. At present the Manor is part of the Barrowcliff area of the town of...


Positions associated with the Whips' Office
Whip (politics)
A whip is an official in a political party whose primary purpose is to ensure party discipline in a legislature. Whips are a party's "enforcers", who typically offer inducements and threaten punishments for party members to ensure that they vote according to the official party policy...

 

  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury
    Secretary to the Treasury
    In the United Kingdom, there are several Secretaries to the Treasury, who are junior Treasury ministers nominally acting as secretaries to HM Treasury. The origins of the office are unclear, although it probably originated during Lord Burghley's tenure as Lord Treasurer in the 16th century. The...

     - held by the Chief Whip
    Chief Whip
    The Chief Whip is a political office in some legislatures assigned to an elected member whose task is to administer the whipping system that ensures that members of the party attend and vote as the party leadership desires.-The Whips Office:...

     in the House of Commons
  • Treasurer of the Household
    Treasurer of the Household
    The position of Treasurer of the Household is theoretically held by a household official of the British monarch, under control of the Lord Steward's Department, but is, in fact, a political office held by one of the government's Deputy Chief Whips in the House of Commons...

     - held by the Deputy Chief Whip in the Commons
  • Comptroller of the Household
    Comptroller of the Household
    The Comptroller of the Household is an ancient position in the English royal household, currently the second-ranking member of the Lord Steward's department, and often a cabinet member. He was an ex officio member of the Board of Green Cloth, until that body was abolished in the reform of the local...

     - held by a senior Commons Whip
  • Vice-Chamberlain of the Household
    Vice-Chamberlain of the Household
    The Vice-Chamberlain of the Household is usually a junior government whip in the British House of Commons and is an officer of the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. He or she is the Deputy to the Lord Chamberlain of the Household. The Vice-Chamberlain's main role is to compile...

     - held by a senior Commons Whip
  • Lords of the Treasury
    Lord High Treasurer
    The post of Lord High Treasurer or Lord Treasurer was an English government position and has been a British government position since the Act of Union of 1707. A holder of the post would be the third highest ranked Great Officer of State, below the Lord High Chancellor and above the Lord President...

     - held by the several junior Commons Whips
  • Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms - held by the Chief Whip
    Chief Whip
    The Chief Whip is a political office in some legislatures assigned to an elected member whose task is to administer the whipping system that ensures that members of the party attend and vote as the party leadership desires.-The Whips Office:...

     in the House of Lords
    House of Lords
    The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

  • Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard
    Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard
    The Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard is a UK government post usually held by the Government Deputy Chief Whip in the House of Lords...

     - held by the Deputy Chief Whip in the Lords
  • Lords in Waiting
    Lord-in-Waiting
    Most Lords in Waiting are Government whips in the House of Lords who are members of the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. As members of the Royal Household their duties are nominal, though they are occasionally required to meet visiting political and state leaders on visits...

     - held by the several junior Lords Whips

Ceremonial and honorary positions

  • Lord Clerk Register
    Lord Clerk Register
    The office of Lord Clerk Register is the oldest surviving Great Officer of State in Scotland, with origins in the 13th century.The Clerk-Register was from ancient times the principal Clerk in the kingdom, from whom all other clerks, whatever their government positions, and who were essentially his...

  • Lord Steward of the Household
    Lord Steward
    The Lord Steward or Lord Steward of the Household, in England, is an important official of the Royal Household. He is always a peer. Until 1924, he was always a member of the Government...

  • Master of the Horse
    Master of the Horse
    The Master of the Horse was a position of varying importance in several European nations.-Magister Equitum :...

  • Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
    Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
    The Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports is a ceremonial official in the United Kingdom. The post dates from at least the 12th century but may be older. The Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports was originally in charge of the Cinque Ports, a group of five port towns on the southeast coast of England...

  • Constable of the Tower of London
    Constable of the Tower
    The Constable of the Tower is the most senior appointment at the Tower of London. In the middle ages a constable was the person in charge of a castle when the owner - the king or a nobleman - was not in residence...

  • Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle
    Constables and Governors of Windsor Castle
    The Constables and Governors of Windsor Castle are in charge of Windsor Castle on behalf of the sovereign. The day-to-day operations are under the Superintendent, who is an officer of the Master of the Household's Department of the Royal Household....


Canada

  • Deputy Prime Minister of Canada
    Deputy Prime Minister of Canada
    The Deputy Prime Minister of Canada is an honorary position in the cabinet, conferred at the discretion of the prime minister. There is currently, , no deputy prime minister....

  • President of the Privy Council (given to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs)
  • Registrar-General (given to the Minister of Industry)
  • Receiver-General (given to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services)
  • Attorney-General (given to the Minister of Justice)