Leader of the House of Commons

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For the historic position in Northern Ireland, see Minister and Leader of the House of Commons.
United Kingdom
Leader of the
House of Commons
House of Commons of the United Kingdom.svg
Chris Grayling Official.jpg
Incumbent
Chris Grayling

since 9 May 2015
Office of the Leader of the House
Style The Right Honourable
Appointer Elizabeth II
Inaugural holder Robert Walpole
Formation 4 April 1721
Website www.commonsleader.gov.uk

The Leader of the House of Commons is a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom who is responsible for arranging government business in the House of Commons. Because this office does not attract a ministerial salary,[1] it is usually held jointly with another ministerial position (often a sinecure). Although at one time the position was usually held by the Prime Minister, in recent years, the post has usually been combined with that of Lord President of the Council (i.e., of the Privy Council); from 2003 to 2015 it had been combined with the office of Lord Privy Seal.

The House of Commons devotes approximately three quarters of its time to Government business, such as bills introduced by the government and ministerial statements. The Leader of the House, with the parties' chief whips ("the usual channels"), is responsible for organising the government business and providing time for non-government business to be put before the House, and announces the next week's schedule in the Business Statement each Thursday.

When there is no Deputy Prime Minister, or the Deputy Prime Minister is unavailable, the Leader of the House may stand in for an absent Prime Minister at Prime Minister's Questions.

Jointly administered by the Office of the Leader of the House of Commons and the Cabinet Office are the Osmotherly Rules, which set out guidance on how civil servants should respond to parliamentary select committees.[2]

Leaders of the House of Commons since 1721[edit]

At times the nominal leadership was held by the Prime Minister but the day-to-day work was done by a Deputy. At other times a Deputy was appointed merely to enhance an individual politician's standing within the government.

18th century[edit]

Name Portrait Concurrent office(s) Tenure Political Party Prime Minister
Robert Walpole Robertwalpole cropped cropped.jpg Prime Minister
Chancellor of the Exchequer
4 April 1721 – 6 February 1742 Whig Himself
Samuel Sandys 1stLordSandys.jpg Chancellor of the Exchequer 12 February 1742 – 27 August 1743 Spencer Compton, 1st Earl of Wilmington
Henry Pelham Henry Pelham.jpg Prime Minister
Chancellor of the Exchequer
27 August 1743 – 6 March 1754 Himself
Thomas Robinson Thomas Robinson, 1st Baron Grantham.jpg Southern Secretary 23 March 1754 – October 1755 Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle
Henry Fox Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland by John Giles Eccardt.jpg 14 November 1755 – 13 November 1756
William Pitt the Elder Elderpitt.jpg 4 December 1756 – 6 April 1757 William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire
vacant April – June 1757 William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire
(Caretaker)
William Pitt the Elder Elderpitt.jpg Southern Secretary 27 June 1757 – 6 October 1761 Whig Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle
George Grenville George Grenville cropped.jpg Treasurer of the Navy October 1761 – May 1762 Grenvillite Whig
Henry Fox Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland by John Giles Eccardt.jpg Paymaster of the Forces May 1762 – April 1763 Whig John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute
George Grenville George Grenville cropped.jpg Prime Minister
Chancellor of the Exchequer
16 April 1763 – 13 July 1765 Grenvillite Whig Himself
Henry Seymour Conway Field Marshal Conway.jpg Southern Secretary (until May 1766)
Northern Secretary (from May 1766)
July 1765 – 20 October 1768 Rockinghamite Whig Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham (until July 1766)
William Pitt the Elder, 1st Earl of Chatham (from July 1766)
Frederick Lord North Nathaniel Dance Lord North.jpg Chancellor of the Exchequer
Prime Minister (from 28 January 1770)
October 1768 – 22 March 1782 Tory Augustus FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton
Himself
Charles James Fox Charles James Fox00.jpg Foreign Secretary 27 March 1782 – July 1782 Whig Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham
Thomas Townshend 1stViscountSydney.jpg Home Secretary 10 July 1782 – 6 March 1783 William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne
Charles James Fox Charles James Fox by Karl Anton Hickel.jpg Foreign Secretary jointly:
2 April 1783 – 19 December 1783
Fox-North Coalition William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland (figurehead)
Frederick Lord North Nathaniel Dance Lord North.jpg Home Secretary
William Pitt the Younger William Pitt the Younger 2 cropped.jpg Prime Minister
Chancellor of the Exchequer
19 December 1783 – 14 March 1801 Pittite Tory Himself

19th century[edit]

Name Portrait Concurrent office(s) Tenure Political Party Prime Minister
Henry Addington Henry Addington by Beechey.jpg Prime Minister
Chancellor of the Exchequer
17 March 1801 – 10 May 1804 Pittite Tory Himself
William Pitt the Younger William Pitt the Younger 2 cropped.jpg Prime Minister
Chancellor of the Exchequer
10 May 1804 – 23 January 1806 (died) Himself
Charles James Fox Charles James Fox00.jpg Foreign Secretary February – 13 September 1806 (died) Whig
(Ministry of All the Talents)
William Grenville
Charles Grey, Viscount Howick Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey by Sir Thomas Lawrence.jpg Foreign Secretary September 1806 – 31 March 1807
Spencer Perceval Spencerperceval.jpg Chancellor of the Exchequer
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Prime Minister (from October 1809)
April 1807 – 11 May 1812 (died) Tory William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland
Himself
Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh (inherited as 2nd Marquess of Londonderry in 1821) Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh.PNG Foreign Secretary June 1812 – 12 August 1822 (died) Robert Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool
George Canning George Canning by Richard Evans - detail.jpg Foreign Secretary (until April 1827) 16 September 1822 – 8 August 1827 (died) Canningite Tory
Prime Minister
Chancellor of the Exchequer (both from April 1827)
Himself
William Huskisson William Huskisson by Richard Rothwell.jpg War & Colonial Secretary 3 September 1827 – 21 January 1828 F. J. Robinson, 1st Viscount Goderich
Robert Peel Sir Robert Peel 1844.jpg Home Secretary 26 January 1828 – 16 November 1830 Tory Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
John Spencer, Viscount Althorp JC Spencer, Viscount Althorp by HP Bone cropped.jpg Chancellor of the Exchequer 22 November 1830 – 14 November 1834 Whig Charles Grey
William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne
Robert Peel Sir Robert Peel 1844.jpg Prime Minister
Chancellor of the Exchequer
10 December 1834 – 8 April 1835 Conservative Himself
John Russell Lord john russell.jpg Home Secretary (until August 1839)
War & Colonial Secretary (from 30 August 1839)
18 April 1835 – 30 August 1841 Whig William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne
Robert Peel Sir Robert Peel 1844.jpg Prime Minister 30 August 1841 – 29 June 1846 Conservative Himself
John Russell Lord john russell.jpg Prime Minister 30 June 1846 – 21 February 1852 Whig Himself
Benjamin Disraeli Disraeli.jpg Chancellor of the Exchequer 27 February – 17 December 1852 Conservative Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby
John Russell Lord john russell.jpg Foreign Secretary (until February 1853)
Minister without Portfolio (February 1853–June 1854)
Lord President of the Council (from June 1854)
28 December 1852 – 30 January 1855 Whig
(Coalition)
George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen
Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston Palmerston.jpg Prime Minister 6 February 1855 – 19 February 1858 Whig Himself
Benjamin Disraeli Disraeli.jpg Chancellor of the Exchequer 26 February 1858 – 11 June 1859 Conservative Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby
Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston Palmerston.jpg Prime Minister 12 June 1859 – 18 October 1865 (died) Liberal Himself
William Ewart Gladstone Gladstone.jpg Chancellor of the Exchequer October 1865 – 26 June 1866 John Russell
Benjamin Disraeli Disraeli.jpg Chancellor of the Exchequer (until February 1868) 6 July 1866 – 1 December 1868 Conservative Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby
Prime Minister (from February 1868) Himself
William Ewart Gladstone Gladstone.jpg Prime Minister
Chancellor of the Exchequer (from August 1873)
3 December 1868 – 17 February 1874 Liberal Himself
Benjamin Disraeli Disraeli.jpg Prime Minister 20 February 1874 – 21 August 1876 Conservative Himself
Stafford Northcote Стаффорд Генри Норткот.jpg Chancellor of the Exchequer 21 August 1876 – 21 April 1880 Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield
William Ewart Gladstone Gladstone.jpg Prime Minister
Chancellor of the Exchequer (until December 1882)
23 April 1880 – 9 June 1885 Liberal Himself
Michael Hicks-Beach St Aldwyn Michael Edward Hicks-Beach (1st Earl).jpg Chancellor of the Exchequer 24 June 1885 – 28 January 1886 Conservative Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury
William Ewart Gladstone Gladstone.jpg Prime Minister
Lord Privy Seal
1 February – 2 July 1886 Liberal Himself
Randolph Churchill Randolph Churchill.jpg Chancellor of the Exchequer 3 August 1886 – 14 January 1887 Conservative Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury
W. H. Smith William Henry Smith (1825–1891).jpg First Lord of the Treasury 17 January 1887 – October 1891
Arthur Balfour Arthur Balfour, photo portrait facing left.jpg First Lord of the Treasury October 1891 – 11 August 1892
William Ewart Gladstone Gladstone.jpg Prime Minister
Lord Privy Seal
15 August 1892 – 2 March 1894 Liberal Himself
William Vernon Harcourt Sir William Harcourt.jpg Chancellor of the Exchequer 2 March 1894 – 21 June 1895 Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery
Arthur Balfour Arthur Balfour, photo portrait facing left.jpg First Lord of the Treasury
Prime Minister (from 12 July 1902)
Lord Privy Seal (14 July 1902–17 October 1903)
29 June 1895 – 4 December 1905 Conservative Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury
Himself

Edwardian and wartime[edit]

Name Portrait Concurrent office(s) Tenure Political Party Prime Minister
Henry Campbell-Bannerman Henry Campbell-Bannerman photo.jpg Prime Minister 5 December 1905 – 5 April 1908 Liberal Himself
H. H. Asquith H H Asquith 1908.jpg Prime Minister
War Secretary (30 March – 5 August 1914)
5 April 1908 – 5 December 1916 Liberal
(Wartime coalition 1915–1916)
Himself
Bonar Law Andrew Bonar Law 02.jpg Chancellor of the Exchequer (until 10 January 1919)
Lord Privy Seal (from 10 January 1919)
10 December 1916 – 23 March 1921 Conservative
(Coalition)
David Lloyd George
Austen Chamberlain Austen Chamberlain nobel.jpg Lord Privy Seal 23 March 1921 – 19 October 1922
Bonar Law Andrew Bonar Law 02.jpg Prime Minister 23 October 1922 – 20 May 1923 Conservative Himself
Stanley Baldwin Stanley Baldwin ggbain.35233.jpg Prime Minister
Chancellor of the Exchequer (until August 1923)
22 May 1923 – 22 January 1924 Himself
Ramsay MacDonald Ramsay MacDonald ggbain.29588.jpg Prime Minister
Foreign Secretary
22 January – 3 November 1924 Labour Himself
Stanley Baldwin Stanley Baldwin ggbain.35233.jpg Prime Minister 4 November 1924 – 4 June 1929 Conservative Himself
Ramsay MacDonald Ramsay MacDonald ggbain.29588.jpg 5 June 1929 – 7 June 1935 Labour Himself
National Labour
(National Govt 1931–1935)
Stanley Baldwin Stanley Baldwin ggbain.35233.jpg 7 June 1935 – 28 May 1937 Conservative
(National Govt 1935–1937)
Himself
Neville Chamberlain Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R99302 Chamberlain.jpg 28 May 1937 – 10 May 1940 Conservative
(National Govt 1937–1939;
War Govt 1939–1940)
Himself
Winston Churchill Churchill portrait NYP 45063.jpg Prime Minister
Minister of Defence
10 May 1940 – 19 February 1942 Conservative
(Wartime coalition)
Winston Churchill
Stafford Cripps Stafford cripps.jpg Lord Privy Seal 19 February – 22 November 1942 Independent
(Wartime coalition)
Anthony Eden British Political Personalities 1936-1945 HU49409.jpg Foreign Secretary 22 February 1942 – 26 July 1945 Conservative
(Wartime coalition)
Conservative
(Caretaker coalition)

Post-War[edit]

Name Portrait Concurrent office(s) Tenure Political Party Prime Minister
Herbert Morrison HerbertMorrison2.jpg Lord President of the Council 27 July 1945 – 9 March 1951 Labour Clement Attlee
James Chuter Ede Chuter Ede 1941.jpg Home Secretary 9 March 1951 – 26 October 1951
Harry Crookshank Crookshank1932.png Minister of Health (until May 1952)
Lord Privy Seal (from 7 May 1952)
28 October 1951 – 20 December 1955 Conservative Winston Churchill
Anthony Eden
Rab Butler RA Butler 1937.jpg Lord Privy Seal (until October 1959)
Home Secretary (from 14 January 1957)
20 December 1955 – 9 October 1961
Home Secretary Harold Macmillan
Iain Macleod Iain Macleod crop.jpg Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 9 October 1961 – 20 October 1963
Selwyn Lloyd Selwyn Lloyd cropped.jpg Lord Privy Seal 20 October 1963 – 16 October 1964 Alec Douglas-Home
Herbert Bowden Lord President of the Council 16 October 1964 – 11 August 1966 Labour Harold Wilson
Richard Crossman 11 August 1966 – 18 October 1968
Fred Peart 18 October 1968 – 19 June 1970
Willie Whitelaw William Whitelaw.jpg 20 June 1970 – 7 April 1972 Conservative Edward Heath
Robert Carr Robert Carr2.jpg 7 April 1972 – 5 November 1972
Jim Prior 5 November 1972 – 4 March 1974
Edward Short 5 March 1974 – 8 April 1976 Labour Harold Wilson
Michael Foot 8 April 1976 – 4 May 1979 James Callaghan
Norman St John-Stevas Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Minister for the Arts
5 May 1979 – 5 January 1981 Conservative Margaret Thatcher
Francis Pym Zconcam61.jpg Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (until September 1981)
Lord President of the Council (from 14 September 1981)
5 January 1981 – 5 April 1982
John Biffen Lord President of the Council (until June 1983)
Lord Privy Seal (from 11 June 1983)
5 April 1982 – 13 June 1987
John Wakeham Lord Privy Seal (until January 1988)
Lord President of the Council (from 10 January 1988)
13 June 1987 – 24 July 1989
Geoffrey Howe Geoffrey Howe.jpg Lord President of the Council
Deputy Prime Minister
24 July 1989 – 2 November 1990
John MacGregor Lord President of the Council 2 November 1990 – 10 April 1992
John Major
Tony Newton 10 April 1992 – 1 May 1997
Ann Taylor 2 May 1997 – 27 July 1998 Labour Tony Blair
Margaret Beckett Margaret Beckett May 2007.jpg 27 July 1998 – 8 June 2001

21st century[edit]

Name Portrait Concurrent office(s) Tenure Political party Prime Minister
Robin Cook Robin Cook-close crop.jpg Lord President of the Council 8 June 2001 – 17 March 2003 Labour Tony Blair
John Reid John Reid on his last day as Home Secretary, June 2007.jpg 4 April 2003 – 13 June 2003
Peter Hain Peter Hain.png Lord Privy Seal 11 June 2003 – 6 May 2005
Geoff Hoon Geoff Hoon Headshot.jpg 6 May 2005 – 5 May 2006
Jack Straw Jack Straw 2.jpg 5 May 2006 – 27 June 2007
Harriet Harman Harriet Harman 2009 color.jpg Lord Privy Seal
Minister for Women and Equality
28 June 2007 – 11 May 2010 Gordon Brown
George Young George Young Minister.jpg Lord Privy Seal 12 May 2010 – 3 September 2012 Conservative
(Coalition)
David Cameron
Andrew Lansley Andrew Lansley Official.jpg 4 September 2012 – 14 July 2014
William Hague William Hague 2010 cropped.jpg First Secretary of State 14 July 2014 – 8 May 2015
Chris Grayling Chris Grayling Official.jpg Lord President of the Council 9 May 2015 – present Conservative

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]