Someone asked me this question on Twitter, and I wasn’t sure so I asked the Cabinet Office if there were any guidelines about why some titles are “Minister of Health” and others “Ministers for Arts, Culture and Heritage”.
The short answer is that the PM decides, so it is up to him.
The longer answer is that the following factors are taken into account:
- usually, when new appointments are made to established portfolios, the portfolio titles remain the same (whether “of” or “for”, especially if the title is used in legislation)
- “of” is often used where the portfolio relates directly to an actual Ministry or Department (eg Minister of Health, Minister of Justice, Minister of Corrections)
- “for” is often used where the portfolio description is more “generic”, eg where the Minister is responsible for a particular topic or area (eg Minister for Regulatory Reform, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage);
- sometimes, for reasons of sense or style, it just makes sense to use “of” or “for” (eg the former “Minister of Women’s Affairs has been changed to “Minister for Women”).
That makes a lot of sense. The last point especially resonates. Being the “Minister of Youth” or “Minister of Women” would sound very weird. Would be a cool business card though that said “Minister of Youth”
For those interested these are the different titles:
Commerce and Consumer Affairs
Energy and Resources
Pacific Island Affairs
Science and Innovation
Arts, Culture and Heritage
Building and Housing
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery
Climate Change Issues
National Security and Intelligence
Sport and Recreation
State Owned Enterprises
Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment
Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
Workplace Relations and Safety
(the) Community and Voluntary Sector
My thanks to the Cabinet Office for their prompt and helpful response.