Secretary of State for Wales

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Secretary of State for Wales
Royal Badge of Wales (1953).svg
Royal Badge of Wales (Red Dragon version)
David Jones Official.jpg
Incumbent
David Jones, MP

since 4 September 2012
Wales Office
Style The Right Honourable
Appointer Elizabeth II
Formation 18 October 1964
Website www.walesoffice.gov.uk/
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the United Kingdom

Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Wales (Welsh: Ysgrifennydd Gwladol Cymru) is the principal minister of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom with responsibilities for Wales. They are a member the cabinet and the head of the Wales Office. They are responsible for ensuring Welsh interests are taken into account by Her Majesty's Government, representing the government within Wales and overseeing the passing of legislation which is only for Wales. The current Secretary of State for Wales is David Jones MP.

Creation[edit]

In the first half of the 20th century, a number of politicians had supported the creation of the post of Secretary of State for Wales as a step towards Home Rule for Wales. A post of Minister of Welsh Affairs was created in 1951 under the Home Secretary and was upgraded to Minister of State level in 1954.

The Labour Party proposed the creation of a Welsh Office run by a Secretary of State for Wales in their manifesto for the 1959 general election and once they came to power in 1964 this could be put into effect.

The post of Secretary of State for Wales came into existence on 17 October 1964, the first incumbent being Jim Griffiths, MP for Llanelli. The position entailed responsibility for Wales and expenditure on certain public services was delegated from Westminster. In April 1965 administration of Welsh affairs, which had previously been divided between a number of government departments were united in a newly created Welsh Office with the Secretary of State for Wales at its head. As a result the Welsh Secretary came to have responsibility for education and training, health, trade and industry, environment, transport and agriculture within Wales.

History[edit]

During the 1980s and 1990s, as the number of Conservative MPs for Welsh constituencies dwindled almost to nothing, the office fell into disrepute. Nicholas Edwards, MP for Pembrokeshire, held the post for some years, but was constantly mocked for his upper-class appearance and accent. On his departure, the government ceased to look within Wales for the Secretary of State, and the post was increasingly used as a way of getting junior high-fliers into the Cabinet. John Redwood in particular caused embarrassment to the government when he publicly demonstrated an inability to sing (or even successfully mime) "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau", the Welsh national anthem.

The introduction of the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government following the devolution referendum of 1997 was the beginning of a new era. On 1 July 1999 the majority of the functions of the Welsh Office transferred to the new assembly. The Welsh Office was disbanded but the post of Secretary of State for Wales was retained, as the head of the newly created Wales Office.

Since 1999 there have been calls for the office of Welsh Secretary to be scrapped or merged with the posts of Secretary of State for Scotland and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland due to the lesser powers of the role since devolution.[1][2]

Ministers and Secretaries of State[edit]

Colour key
      Conservative       National Liberal       Labour

Ministers of Welsh Affairs (1951–1964)[edit]

Name Term of office Political party Prime Minister Notes
Sir David Maxwell Fyfe David Maxwell Fyfe cropped.jpg 28 October 1951 18 October 1954 Conservative Sir Winston Churchill First Minister of Welsh Affairs, combined with Home Secretary
Gwilym Lloyd George Gwilym Lloyd George cropped.png 18 October 1954 13 January 1957 Liberal & Conservative Minister of Welsh Affairs, combined with Home Secretary
Sir Anthony Eden
Henry Brooke No image.svg 13 January 1957 9 October 1961 Conservative Harold Macmillan Minister of Welsh Affairs, combined with Minister of Housing and Local Government
Charles Hill No image.svg 9 October 1961 13 July 1962 National Liberal Minister of Welsh Affairs, combined with Minister of Housing and Local Government
Sir Keith Joseph No image.svg 13 July 1962 16 October 1964 Conservative Minister of Welsh Affairs, combined with Minister of Housing and Local Government
Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Secretaries of State for Wales (1964–present)[edit]

Name Term of office Political party Prime Minister Notes
Jim Griffiths No image.svg 18 October 1964 5 April 1966 Labour Harold Wilson First Secretary of State for Wales
Cledwyn Hughes No image.svg 5 April 1966 5 April 1968 Labour
George Thomas No image.svg 5 April 1968 20 June 1970 Labour
Peter Thomas No image.svg 20 June 1970 5 March 1974 Conservative Edward Heath First Secretary of State for Wales representing an English constituency
John Morris No image.svg 5 March 1974 5 May 1979 Labour Harold Wilson
James Callaghan
Nicholas Edwards No image.svg 5 May 1979 13 June 1987 Conservative Margaret Thatcher
Peter Walker No image.svg 13 June 1987 4 May 1990 Conservative Born in England, represented English constituency
David Hunt No image.svg 4 May 1990 27 May 1993 Conservative John Major Born in Glyn Ceiriog, North Wales. Represented English constituency
John Redwood No image.svg 27 May 1993 26 June 1995 Conservative Born in England, represented English constituency, resigned to stand for the leadership of the Conservative party.
David Hunt No image.svg 26 June 1995 5 July 1995 Conservative Acting Secretary of State during the 1995 Conservative leadership contest
William Hague William Hague 2010 cropped.jpg 5 July 1995 3 May 1997 Conservative Born in England, represented English constituency
Ron Davies Rondavies1998.jpg 3 May 1997 27 October 1998 Labour Tony Blair Resigned following a "moment of madness" on Clapham Common.
Alun Michael AlunMichael.JPG 27 October 1998 28 July 1999 Labour Government of Wales Act 1998; inaugural First Secretary for Wales from 12 May 1999.
Paul Murphy Paul Murphy cropped.jpg 28 July 1999 24 October 2002 Labour
Peter Hain Peter Hain.png 24 October 2002 24 January 2008 Labour Born in Kenya
Combined with:
Leader of the House of Commons, 2003–2005
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, 2005–2007
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 2007–2008
Gordon Brown
Paul Murphy Paul Murphy cropped.jpg 24 January 2008 5 June 2009 Labour
Peter Hain Peter Hain.png 5 June 2009 11 May 2010 Labour
Cheryl Gillan Cheryl Gllian Official.jpg 11 May 2010 4 September 2012 Conservative David Cameron
(Coalition)
First Female office holder.
David Jones David Jones Official.jpg 4 September 2012 Incumbent Conservative First Conservative Welsh Secretary to represent a Welsh constituency since Nicholas Edwards (1979–87).

References[edit]

  1. ^ "WALES | 'Scrap Welsh secretary' demand". BBC News. 19 March 2001. Retrieved 7 June 2010. 
  2. ^ "UK | Wales | Wales Office in melting pot". BBC News. 12 June 2003. Retrieved 7 June 2010. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]