First Secretary of State

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United Kingdom
First Secretary of State
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Incumbent
Vacant
Government of the United Kingdom
Office of the Prime Minister
Cabinet Office
StyleThe Right Honourable
First Secretary of State
Member of
Reports toThe Prime Minister
ResidenceNone, may use Grace and favour residences
SeatWestminster, London
NominatorThe Prime Minister
AppointerThe British Monarch
on the advice of the Prime Minister
Term lengthNo fixed term
Inaugural holderRab Butler
Formation13 July 1962
Salary£142,467 (annual, including £74,962 MP's salary)[1]
WebsiteOfficial website
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First Secretary of State is an honorary title occasionally used in the Government of the United Kingdom. It implies seniority over all other Secretaries of State in terms of Cabinet rank,[2] but has no specific powers or authority attached to it beyond that of any other Secretary of State. When no Deputy Prime Minister is in office, the post is de facto second in Government. If there is no First Secretary of State, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is typically de facto second in Government, although David Lidington as Minister for the Cabinet Office currently has a higher Cabinet rank than Chancellor Philip Hammond.

The title is not always in use, so there have sometimes been extended gaps between successive holders of the title. It was unused the longest in the 25 years between 1970 and 1995. After Damian Green resigned over sexual harassment allegations on 20 December 2017, no Secretary of State was appointed to fill the post.[3][4]

Responsibilities[edit]

The role has had varying responsibilities over time. The most recent responsibilities are:[5]

  • Supporting the Prime Minister in the running of the Government of the United Kingdom.
  • Deputising for the Prime Minister.
  • Advising the Prime Minister on developing and implementing Government policy.
  • Driving forward government business and implementation including through chairing and deputy chairing cabinet committees and taskforces.
  • Overseeing constitutional affairs and maintaining the integrity of the Union.
  • Oversight of all Cabinet Office policies.

Relationship with Deputy Prime Minister[edit]

The post of Deputy Prime Minister had been created in 1942 for Clement Attlee, the leader of the Labour Party in Winston Churchill's wartime coalition ministry. The post indicated that the holder ranked second in government, after the Prime Minister, but did not confer cabinet rank and did not pay a salary. For this reason, the Deputy Prime Minister concurrently held other offices, entitling him to a place in cabinet.

The title First Secretary of State indicated the holder's rank as a Secretary of State, with a place in cabinet. The title was created in 1962 for Deputy Prime Minister R. A. Butler, granting him a place in cabinet despite not holding a specific cabinet portfolio. Michael Heseltine and John Prescott were also relieved of their cabinet portfolios when serving as Deputy Prime Minister, and were therefore additionally appointed First Secretary of State. In 1964, Prime Minister Harold Wilson established the alternative usage, appointing a First Secretary of State among the cabinet without appointing a Deputy Prime Minister.

The two titles have only existed concurrently with different holders in one government: in David Cameron's coalition ministry of 2010–15, Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, was appointed Deputy Prime Minister, while former Conservative leader William Hague was appointed First Secretary of State.

List of First Secretaries of State[edit]

First Secretary of State
Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of office Other ministerial offices Party Ministry Ref.
Rab Butler.png R. A. Butler[6]
MP for Saffron Walden
(1902–1982)
13 July
1962
18 October
1963
Conservative Macmillan II [7]
Title not in use 1963–1964
George Brown, 1967.jpg George Brown
MP for Belper
(1914–1985)
16 October
1964
11 August
1966
Labour Wilson
(I & II)
[7]
Michael Stewart (1966).jpg Michael Stewart
MP for Fulham
(1906–1990)
11 August
1966
6 April
1968
Labour [7]
Mme Barbara Castle, Ministre britannique du développement outre-mer.jpg Barbara Castle
MP for Blackburn
(1910–2002)
6 April
1968
19 June
1970
Labour [7]
Title not in use 1970–1995
Lord Heseltine, Deputy Prime Minister, UK (1995-97) (10559130986).jpg Michael Heseltine
MP for Henley
(born 1933)
20 July
1995
2 May
1997
Conservative Major II [8]
Title not in use 1997–2001
John Prescott on his last day as Deputy Prime Minister, June 2007.jpg John Prescott
MP for Hull East
(born 1938)
8 June
2001
27 June
2007
Labour Blair
(II & III)
[9]
Title not in use 2007–2009
Peter Mandelson at Politics of Climate Change 3.jpg Peter Mandelson
Lord Mandelson
(born 1953)
5 June
2009
11 May
2010
Labour Brown
William Hague, Foreign Sec (crop).jpg William Hague
MP for Richmond (Yorks)
(born 1961)
12 May
2010
8 May
2015
Conservative Cameron–Clegg
(Con.L.D.)
[10]
George osborne hi.jpg George Osborne
MP for Tatton
(born 1971)
8 May
2015
13 July
2016
Conservative Cameron II [11]
Title not in use 2016–2017
Official portrait of Damian Green crop 2.jpg Damian Green
MP for Ashford
(born 1956)
11 June
2017
20 December
2017
Conservative May II [12][13]
Title not in use 2017–present

Timeline[edit]

Damian GreenGeorge OsborneWilliam HaguePeter MandelsonJohn PrescottMichael HeseltineBarbara CastleMichael StewartGeorge BrownRab Butler

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Served as Secretary of State for Economic Affairs until August 1967
  2. ^ Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from March 1968
  3. ^ Deputy Prime Minister from May 1997
  4. ^ Served as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs until July 2014.
  5. ^ Served as Leader of the House of Commons from July 2014

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/561941/ministerial_salaries_july_2016_updated_17_10_16.pdf
  2. ^ Nicholas Watt (8 May 2015). "George Osborne made first secretary of state in cabinet reshuffle". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  3. ^ "Damian Green sacked after 'misleading statements' on porn claims". BBC News.
  4. ^ "Damian Green sacked over porn cover-up as Theresa May suffers third Cabinet departure in two months". The Telegraph.
  5. ^ "First Secretary of State - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 2017-07-25.
  6. ^ Howard, Anthony (February 7, 2013). "RAB: The Life of R.A. Butler". A&C Black.
  7. ^ a b c d David Butler and Gareth Butler, British Political Facts 1900–1994 (7th edn, Macmillan 1994) 62.
  8. ^ "Lord Heseltine". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  9. ^ "Lord Prescott". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  10. ^ "Lord Hague of Richmond". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  11. ^ "Rt Hon George Osborne". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  12. ^ "Rt Hon Damian Green MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  13. ^ Stewart, Heather. "Damian Green sacked as first secretary of state after porn allegations". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 December 2017.