Defence Council of the United Kingdom

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Defence Council of the United Kingdom
Agency overview
Formed1964
Preceding
  • Defence Board
JurisdictionUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
HeadquartersWhitehall, Westminster, London
Agency executive
A sign erected under the auspices of the Defence Council

The Defence Council of the United Kingdom is the supreme governing body of the British Armed Forces. It was established by the Defence (Transfer of Functions) Act 1964, which statutorily delegated the military authority of the Crown, as head of the Armed Forces, to the Defence Council. It has the power of "command and administration" over the military.

The Defence Council consists of the Defence Board, its principal committee, as well as the Admiralty Board, the Army Board and the Air Force Board. The Defence Board is chaired by the Secretary of State for Defence, the minister of the crown with "general responsibility for defence" of the United Kingdom.[2]

Functions[edit]

Prior to 1964, there were five government ministries responsible for the British 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,[3] 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 King and to Parliament for its business. The letters patent constituting the Defence Council vest it with the power of command over His 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 the Defence Board. In addition, the three service boards (the Admiralty Board, the Army Board and the Air Force Board), which are sub-committees of the Defence Council meet annually for each service chief to report to the Secretary of State on the health of their respective services.[4]

Membership[edit]

As of February 2024, membership of the Defence Council is as follows:[5][6]

Members Title Name
Political Secretary of State for Defence (Chair) Grant Shapps MP
Minister of State
(Minister for Defence Procurement)
James Cartlidge MP
Minister of State in the House of Lords The Baroness Goldie
Minister of State
(Minister for the Armed Forces)
James Heappey MP
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence People, Veterans and Service Families Andrew Murrison MP
His Majesty's Civil Service Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Defence David Williams
Second Permanent Under-Secretary of State of the Ministry of Defence Paul Lincoln
Director General Finance Kate Harrison
Military Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin
Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff General Gwyn Jenkins
First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Sir Ben Key
Chief of the General Staff General Sir Patrick Sanders
Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Knighton
Commander Strategic Command General Sir James Hockenhull


Defence Board[edit]

The Defence Board is described as the highest committee of the Ministry of Defence, responsible for the full range of defence business other than the conduct of operations.[7] It meets every month and provides strategic direction and oversight of defence matters.[8]

Members Title Name
Political Secretary of State for Defence (Chairperson) Grant Shapps MP
Minister of State The Baroness Goldie
His Majesty's Civil Service Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Defence David Williams
Second Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Defence Paul Lincoln
Director General Finance Charlie Pate
Military Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin
Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff General Gwyn Jenkins
Non-executive board members Lead Non-Executive Board Member Brian McBride
Chair of the Defence Audit Committee Simon Henry
Defence Board Manager Robin Marshall
Chair of the People Committee Danuta Grey

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ben Wallace Named New Defence Secretary". Forces Network. 25 July 2019. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Defence Council". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
  3. ^ "No. 43277". The London Gazette. 20 March 1964. p. 2545.
  4. ^ "How Defence Works" (PDF). assets.publishing.service.gov.uk. p. 18. Retrieved 14 September 2023.
  5. ^ MOD website
  6. ^ "No. 64139". The London Gazette. 10 August 2023. p. 15970.
  7. ^ "Our Governance". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  8. ^ "How Defence Works (December 2015)" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 16 June 2016.

External links[edit]