|First Secretary of State|
|Government of the United Kingdom|
|Style||The Right Honourable (formal)|
His/Her Excellency (diplomatic)
|Reports to||Prime Minister|
|Residence||None, may use grace and favour residences|
|Nominator||Prime Minister of the United Kingdom|
|Appointer||The King (on the advice of the prime minister)|
|Term length||No fixed term|
|Inaugural holder||Rab Butler|
|Formation||13 July 1962|
|Salary||£153,022 per annum|
(including £81,932 MP salary) (2019)
|Political offices in the UK government|
|List of political offices|
|This article is part of a series on|
|Politics of the United Kingdom|
|United Kingdom portal|
First Secretary of State is an office that is sometimes held by a minister of the Crown in the Government of the United Kingdom. The office indicates seniority, including over all other secretaries of state. The office is not always in use, so there have sometimes been extended gaps between successive holders.
Dominic Raab most recently held the position between July 2019 and September 2021, making it vacant at the moment.
Like the deputy prime minister, the first secretary enjoys no right of automatic succession to the office of Prime Minister. However, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved to an intensive care unit on 6 April 2020, after contracting COVID-19, First Secretary Dominic Raab was asked "to deputise for him where necessary."
The office temporarily enjoyed some greater constitutional footing between when it was incorporated as a corporation sole in 2002 and having all of its remaining functions transferred in 2008. During most of this time, John Prescott was First Secretary.
In 1962, Rab Butler was the first person to be appointed to the office, in part to avoid earlier royal objections to the office of Deputy Prime Minister. The office gave Butler ministerial superiority over the rest of the Cabinet and indicated that he was second-in-command. Harold Wilson appointed three people to the office between 1964 and 1970, but it has been noted by Anthony Seldon et al. that the office may have caught on "more as an ego-massager than for functional reasons."
Later, Michael Heseltine and John Prescott held the office alongside being Deputy Prime Minister. The two offices have only existed concurrently with different holders in David Cameron's coalition government, wherein Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg was appointed Deputy Prime Minister while Conservative William Hague was First Secretary.
The office is currently listed on the gov.uk website as bringing no additional responsibilities. However, Lord Norton says that there are two benefits to a prime minister in appointing a first secretary: firstly, it leaves a senior minister free to perform correlation and co-ordination and to chair committees and, secondly, it enables the prime minister to send a signal as to the status of the holder. Stephen Thornton and Jonathan Kirkup have said that "the Office of First Secretary of State is only as important as the person holding that office is perceived to be important", but in certain circumstances the office "...can assume acute importance and real power" and it may yet become an office of substance.
List of first secretaries of state
|First Secretary of State||Term of office||Other ministerial offices||Party||Ministry|
|R. A. Butler
MP for Saffron Walden
MP for Belper
(I & II)
MP for Fulham
MP for Blackburn
MP for Henley
MP for Kingston upon Hull East
|The Lord Mandelson
MP for Richmond (Yorks)
MP for Tatton
MP for Ashford
MP for Esher and Walton
(I & II)
- Ministerial ranking - the "pecking order" or relative importance of senior ministers in the UK government.
- Served as Secretary of State for Economic Affairs until August 1967
- Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from March 1968
- Deputy Prime Minister from May 1997
- Served as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs until July 2014
- Served as Leader of the House of Commons from July 2014
- Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs until September 2020
- Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs from September 2020
- "Salaries of Members of Her Majesty's Government from 1st April 2019" (PDF). 1 April 2019. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 July 2021. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
- "The Cabinet Manual" (PDF). gov.uk. 2010. 3.12. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
- Watt, Nicholas (8 May 2015). "George Osborne made first secretary of state in cabinet reshuffle". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
- Norton, Philip (2020). Governing Britain: Parliament, Ministers and Our Ambiguous Constitution. Manchester University Press. p. 152. ISBN 9-781526-145451.
- "Statement from Downing Street: 6 April 2020". gov.uk. 6 April 2020. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
- The Transfer of Functions (Transport, Local Government and the Regions) Order 2002, art 3(1).
- The Transfer of Functions (Miscellaneous) Order 2008, art 7
- Brazier, Rodney (2020). Choosing a Prime Minister: The Transfer of Power in Britain. Oxford University Press. pp. 74–5. ISBN 978-0-19-260307-4.
- Brazier, Rodney (2020). Choosing a Prime Minister: The Transfer of Power in Britain. Oxford University Press. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-19-260307-4.
- Seldon, Anthony; Meakin, Jonathan; Thoms, Illias (2021). The Impossible Office? The History of the British Prime Minister. Cambridge University Press. p. 171. ISBN 9781316515327.
- Brazier, Rodney (2020). Choosing a Prime Minister: The Transfer of Power in Britain. Oxford University Press. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-19-260307-4.
- "First Secretary of State". gov.uk. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
- Norton, Philip (2020). Governing Britain: Parliament, Ministers and Our Ambiguous Constitution. Manchester University Press. pp. 149–50. ISBN 9-781526-145451.
- Thornton, Stephen (2023). "From Rab to Raab: The Construction of the Office of First Secretary of State". Parliamentary Affairs. 2021: 186–210. doi:10.1093/pa/gsab038.
- Thornton, Stephen; Kirkup, Jonathan (2023). "From Rab to Raab: The Construction of the Office of First Secretary of State". Parliamentary Affairs. 2021: 186–210. doi:10.1093/pa/gsab038.
- Howard, Anthony (February 7, 2013). RAB: The Life of R.A. Butler. A&C Black. ISBN 9781448210824.
- David Butler and Gareth Butler, British Political Facts 1900–1994 (7th edn, Macmillan 1994) 62.
- "Lord Heseltine". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
- "Lord Prescott". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
- "Lord Hague of Richmond". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
- "Rt Hon George Osborne". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
- "Rt Hon Damian Green MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
- "Dominic Raab". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 28 April 2022.