The role of Executive Council

A General Election will be held on Wednesday, 13 October 2021. The closing date for candidate nominations is 12 noon on Wednesday, 29 September 2021. This year’s Election will be historic – the first under a ministerial system of Government.

Leading up to the General Election we continue to provide regular information articles on how a Ministerial Government will work.

This week’s focus is on the role of Executive Council (ExCo).  

If you have any questions you would like to have answered in any of these articles please send them to the SHG Press Office via: or on tel: 22368.

Who will form the Executive Council (ExCo)?

The Chief Minister, the four Ministers and the Attorney General form ExCo .

The Governor presides at meetings of ExCo.

The Governor in his own discretion, or following a request from the Chief Minister, can invite Officers of the St Helena Public Service to meetings of ExCo.

What happens at meetings of ExCo?

Meetings of ExCo are the highest decision making body of the St Helena Government.  At meetings the most significant policies, primary legislation to be presented at Legislative Council and secondary legislation to be enacted are considered and approved.  Also at meetings national strategy is decided, the government’s legislative programme is agreed and often final decisions are made on many of the Island’s most difficult issues.  

What role does the Governor have at meetings of ExCo?

Pursuant to the Constitution the Governor presides at meetings of ExCo.  At meetings the Governor will as happens now ask ExCo Members to lead on many matters on the ExCo agenda.  It is likely that the Chief Minister will lead most discussions or nominate a Minister to do so.

The Governor will follow the advice of ExCo on most matters. However, on matters which in the Constitution are special responsibilities of the Governor, he normally only has to consult ExCo and can choose not to follow their advice.  There are also certain matters that legally the Governor does not have to consult with ExCo.

Will any Government officials sit on ExCo?

Previously the Chief Secretary and Financial Secretary were ex-officio non-voting members of ExCo.  Under the new system they will no longer be members.  Many of their previous roles in ExCo meetings will now be taken over by the Chief Minister and relevant other Ministers. 

The Attorney General remains an ex-officio and non-voting member.

The Governor on his own, or following a request from the Chief Minister, can invite officers of the St Helena Public Service to attend meetings where their presence is considered desirable for specific business.  It is likely that the Chief Secretary and Financial Secretary will be regularly requested to attend.  Other Officers will also be requested to attend when needed.

Under the new Ministerial System will ExCo decisions be based on the principle of ‘collective responsibility’?

Yes they will.  Under the Constitution ExCo is collectively responsible to the Legislative Council for both advice given to the Governor and actions taken by Ministers in the execution of their duty. 

How often will ExCo meet?

ExCo will meet as often as is required.  ExCo can be summonsed either at the discretion of the Governor, or following a request to the Governor from the Chief Minister.  At present, ExCo meets every fortnight but does so more frequently when important business needs to be undertaken.

Must all Members attend meetings of ExCo?

For business to be transacted at a meeting of ExCo there must be at least three Ministers in attendance, one of which must be the Chief Minister.  However, it is expected that given the importance of meetings of ExCo all Members will be in attendance unless there are exceptional circumstances. 

The Constitution allows ExCo to make provisions for the remote attendance of Members by electronic means.

Will ExCo Members chair Council Committees?

No, under the new system there will no longer be Council Committees.  As discussed last week Ministers will instead be responsible for the general direction and policy control of departments in their allocated portfolios.

In our next issue we will look at the role of Legislative Council and Legislators. Please send in any questions you may have by 12noon on Monday, 13 September 2021, via the contact details above.

These Information Releases are also available online at:


9 September 2021

St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470