First Secretary of State
|First Secretary of State|
Arms of Her Majesty's Government
|Style||The Right Honourable|
|Nominator||Prime Minister of the United Kingdom|
|Term length||No fixed term|
|Inaugural holder||Rab Butler|
|Formation||13 July 1962|
|Final holder||George Osborne|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the United Kingdom
|United Kingdom portal|
First Secretary of State is an honorific title occasionally used within the Government of the United Kingdom. The title, which implies seniority over all other Secretaries of State, has no specific powers or authority attached to it beyond that of any other Secretary of State.
The title is not always in use, so there have sometimes been extended gaps between successive holders of the title, the most lengthy of which being the 25 years between 1970 and 1995. The last holder was George Osborne, having held the post from May 2015 until July 2016.
Relationship with Deputy Prime Minister
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, and William Hague was appointed First Secretary of State.
Most recent holder
The most recent First Secretary of State was George Osborne, who first received the title from Prime Minister David Cameron in addition to his reappointment as Chancellor of the Exchequer immediately following the 2015 General Election, and held it until he left cabinet in July 2016.
List of First Secretaries of State
(for political parties)
|Name||Portrait||Term of office||Concurrent office(s)||Political party
|R. A. Butler||13 July 1962||18 October 1963||Deputy Prime Minister||Conservative||Harold Macmillan|
|Office not in use||1963–1964||Alec Douglas-Home|
|George Brown||16 October 1964||11 August 1966||Economic Secretary||Labour
|Michael Stewart||11 August 1966||6 April 1968||Economic Secretary (until August 1967)
Foreign Secretary (from March 1968)
|Barbara Castle||6 April 1968||19 June 1970||Employment and Productivity Secretary||Labour|
|Office not in use||1970–1995||Edward Heath|
|Michael Heseltine||20 July 1995||2 May 1997||Deputy Prime Minister||Conservative|
|Office not in use||1997–2001||Tony Blair|
|John Prescott||8 June 2001||27 June 2007||Deputy Prime Minister (from May 1997)||Labour
|Office not in use||2007–2009||Gordon Brown|
|The Lord Mandelson||5 June 2009||11 May 2010||Business Secretary
Lord President of the Council
|William Hague||12 May 2010||8 May 2015||Foreign Secretary (until July 2014)
Leader of the House of Commons (from July 2014)
|George Osborne||8 May 2015||13 July 2016||Chancellor of the Exchequer||Conservative||David Cameron
|Office not in use||2016–present||Theresa May|
- Nicholas Watt (8 May 2015). "George Osborne made first secretary of state in cabinet reshuffle". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
- "First Secretary of State". www.gov.uk.
- Howard, Anthony (February 7, 2013). "RAB: The Life of R.A. Butler". A&C Black.