Defence Council of the United Kingdom
The Defence Council of the United Kingdom is the body legally entrusted with the defence of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories and with control over the British armed forces, and is part of the Ministry of Defence.
Prior to 1964, there were five bodies responsible for the armed forces: the Admiralty, the War Office, the Air Ministry, the Ministry of Aviation, and a smaller Ministry of Defence. By Orders-in-Council issued under the Defence (Transfer of Functions) Act 1964, the functions of these bodies were transferred to the Defence Council and the Secretary of State for Defence, who heads a larger Ministry of Defence.
The Secretary of State for Defence, who is a member of the Cabinet, chairs the Defence Council, and is accountable to the Queen and to Parliament for its business. The letters patent constituting the Defence Council vest it with the power of command over Her Majesty's Forces and give it responsibility for their administration, or in the words of the letters patent:
- "...to administer such matters pertaining to Our Naval Military and Air Forces as We through Our Principal Secretary of State for Defence direct them to execute And to have command under Us of all Officers Ratings Soldiers and Airmen of Our Naval Military and Air Forces...".
In practice, the Defence Council is a formal body, and almost all its work is conducted by or on behalf of the three service boards chaired by the Secretary of State which report to the Defence Council, namely the Admiralty Board, the Army Board and the Air Force Board.
As of July 2014, membership of the Defence Council is as follows:
- Secretary of State for Defence
- Minister of State for the Armed Forces
- Minister of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans
- Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and Minister for Reserves
- Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology
- Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and House of Lords spokesman on defence
- Chief of Defence Materiel
- Chief Scientific Adviser
- Permanent Under-Secretary
- Director General Finance
- The Chief of the Defence Staff
- The First Sea Lord & Chief of the Naval Staff
- The Chief of the General Staff
- The Chief of the Air Staff
- The Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff
- The Commander, Joint Forces Command
- "Defence Council". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
- London Gazette (Her Majesty’s Stationery Office) (43277): 2545. 20 March 1964 http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/43277/pages/2545. Retrieved 10 June 2011. Missing or empty
- MOD website