A second power that the Prime Minister has is with Cabinet Direction. He can choose to have meetings whenever he wishes, which nowadays is often less than an hour a week. Clearly, due to this it is necessary for him to also determine agenda, and run the meetings, summing up the 'mood' of the meeting at the end. Evidently, he is also the key link between the executive and the legislative, and indeed the executive and the outside world. Another interesting power concerned with this is that of having an 'inner Cabinet' of intimate advisers who are able to help him directly with decision making. Parliament also gives the Prime Minister power, as he generally commands a majority in the House. He is the spokesman for the government, and weekly Question Time provides a platform upon which he can usually excel, firstly because he has all the answers prepared by relevant departments, and also because the party whips pick on people to ask questions which 'show-off' the Prime Minister to the country.
Next, his administration powers are important. He appoints permanent secretaries, vital in some cases to the smooth workings of the departments. Cabinet office acts for the Prime Minister to some extent as he does not actually have his own. At his disposal is a high-powered policy unit at 10 Downing Street, and also traditionally loyalty of civil servants to political masters. His role, therefore, is not constrained by departmental responsibilities: the Chancellor has the treasury, the Foreign Minister has the Foreign Office, but the Prime Minister is relatively independent in his workings, as a lot of his job involves Public Relations. His role within the country gives him an added power. He is the most prestigious and publicly visible politician in the country, and has access to instant media coverage for whatever purpose. Furthermore, he has access to top decision makers in all walks of public life, and the ability to mount high-prestige meetings with foreign leaders, trips abroad etc.
Finally of course, are the prerogative powers, presented to him by the Monarch as the leader of the House of Commons. These powers, among other things entitle him to declare war, sign treaties, cede territory and offer the monarch advice on Parliament's dissolution, at a time within five years.
2b) The most important powers of the Prime Minister are the Royal Prerogative and the Power of Patronage. Currently, the two main features elevating the importance of the prerogative are the ability to declare war and the dissolution of Parliament. The current Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has exercised these rights in the past two years. Declaring War on Iraq two weeks ago, albeit with a majority of the Commons behind him, showed that his power was incredibly strong and the possibility that he may have gone to War using the prerogative, even with the support of Parliament confirmed this strength. Two years ago, during the Foot and Mouth crisis, Tony Blair was able to move the date of the general election to ensure that the two events did not coincide. Due to Convention, the Prime Minister must call an Election within or up to five years of his term in office. John Major exercised this by going 'full term' between 1992 and 1997, one of the only twentieth century Prime Ministers to do so. Margaret Thatcher called her first General Election as Prime Minister in 1983 due to the success of the Falklands Conflict. The other prerogatives that have often proven useful tools to the Prime Minister are the entitlement to sign treaties implemented by Major in 1992 with the Maastricht treaty, however again with the support of Parliament, even though he threatened to go it alone. The right to relinquish land is also a valuable device as it can be often be used in negotiating over issues with other countries.
The power of patronage has also proven useful and important over the years. The fact that he has the power to hire and fire, promote and demote Ministerial Colleagues means that people have respect for him, and his ministers are generally loyal. Blair has not fired any Cabinet members in his seven years so far in office, which is a tribute to the common loyalty that has been shown. Promotions have gone to people like David Blunkett, who moved from the Education office to the Home Office, Jack Straw who became Foreign minister after Home minister, and David Miliband who was promoted to the top of the Education department after only one spell as an MP. Margaret Thatcher on the other hand, was known for firing a lot of Ministers during her time as Prime Minister. As the Prime Minister can also appoint the chairmen of Cabinet committees, it means that he can appoint unelected Lords in the Cabinet or Ministries. This is important as some Lords have effective qualities but cannot fulfil some roles due to them not being in the House of Commons. Lord Falconer, who works as head of some Home Office committees is an unelected Lord, but Blair, who values his opinions and qualities using the power of patronage can put him in this position. Also, of added importance, is the appointment of Royal Commissions, Taskforces, Senior Civil Servants, Senior Judges, Archbishops, Governor of the Bank of England, as well as many other positions. However, the Archbishop of Cantebury, head of the Protestant Church, being chosen by a Catholic Prime Minister, asks some questions about whether this power is suited to the role.
Overall, the Prime Ministers powers are of differing value, however the most important as patronage and the royal prerogative. These give him the greatest scope to make change, however in many situations question his role as a first among equals.