Secretary of State (United Kingdom)
|Political offices in the UK government|
|List of political offices|
Her Majesty's principal secretaries of state, better known as secretaries of state, are senior ministers of the Crown in the Government of the United Kingdom. Secretaries of state head most major government departments and make up the majority of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom. There are currently 16 different secretaries of state. They are all also currently members of Parliament.
Legislation also generally only refers to "the secretary of state" without specifying which one, but, by virtue of the Interpretation Act 1978, this phrase means "one of Her Majesty’s Principal Secretaries of State". Despite there only being one secretary of state in law, in practice, each secretary of state will perforce stay within their own portfolio.
Kingdom of England
In 1539 or 1540, Henry VIII appointed two people to the office.: p.29 After the Stuart Restoration, the practice of appointing two secretaries of state resumed. A formal division, in the form of the offices of the secretary of state for the Northern Department and the secretary of state for the Southern Department, was made in 1689, though the office was first divided into the Northern and Southern Department purviews in 1660.: p.30
After the Union
In 1782, the arrangement of these offices orally changed, so that one would be responsible for foreign affairs and one for domestic affairs, thus establishing the embryonic offices of foreign secretary and home secretary. Over time, the number of secretaries of states grew, so that there were five in 1900 and 14 by 1996. There are currently 16 different secretaries of state.
Secretaries of state currently in use
Secretaries of state no longer in use
Health, education, work, business, energy, environment, transport and the regions
The secretaries of state that have been used for the matters of health, education, work, business, energy, environment, transport and the regions are shown in the graphic below. It shows how portfolios of responsibilities have been broadly passed down from one secretary of state position to the position(s) directly below it. However, it is impossible for such a graphic to be completely accurate; it cannot show smaller changes, or gains or losses of responsibilities within a position due to changes of responsibilities for the UK Government (for example, due to devolution or Brexit). It is not to scale. In the gaps, and before the first of these secretaries of state, relevant responsibilities were taken on by ministers not titled 'Secretary of State'.
|Secterary of state primarily relating to health|
|Secterary of state primarily relating to work and benefits|
|Secterary of state primarily relating to education|
|Secterary of state primarily relating to business|
|Secterary of state primarily relating to energy|
|Secterary of state primarily relating to the regions|
|Secterary of state primarily relating to transport|
|Secterary of state covering more than one of these areas|
|Secterary of state currently in use|
The Secteraries of state that have been used for culture, heritage and sport are as follows:
- "Government ministers". Institute for Government. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
What are the different types of minister? The most senior government ministers, except the prime minister, are secretaries of state.
- Brazier, Rodney (1997). Ministers of the Crown. Oxford: Clarendon. pp. 9–10. ISBN 0-19-825988-3. OCLC 37301571.
- "Ministers". gov.uk. Retrieved 31 March 2021.
- "Ministerial and other Salaries Act 1975, Schedule 1, Part V, Paragraph 2". legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
In the case of the following offices a salary may be paid to more than one holder of the office at the same time, subject to the limitations expressed below, that is to say— (a) Secretary of State, so long as not more than 21 salaries are paid at the same time in accordance with Part I above;
- "Draft Cabinet Manual" (PDF). Cabinet Office. 14 December 2010. p. 42. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 April 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2011.
- Ministry of Justice (October 2009). "The Governance of Britain: Review of the Executive Royal Prerogative Powers: Final Report" (PDF). p. 33. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
- Pickrill, DA (1981). Ministers of the Crown. Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 0-7100-0916-X.
- Sainty, J. C. (1973). "Introduction". Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 2 - Officials of the Secretaries of State 1660-1782. British History Online. University of London. pp. 1–21.
At the Restoration [in 1660] the practice of appointing two Secretaries of State, which was well established before the Civil War, was resumed. Apart from the modifications which were made necessary by the occasional existence of a third secretaryship, the organisation of the secretariat underwent no fundamental change from that time until the reforms of 1782 which resulted in the emergence of the Home and Foreign departments. ... English domestic affairs remained the responsibility of both Secretaries throughout the period. In the field of foreign affairs there was a division into a Northern and a Southern Department, each of which was the responsibility of one Secretary. The distinction between the two departments emerged only gradually. It was not until after 1689 that their names passed into general currency. Nevertheless the division of foreign business itself can, in its broad outlines, be detected in the early years of the reign of Charles II.
- Torrance, David (19 June 2019). "Introduction to devolution in the UK". House of Commons Library. p. 12. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
- Defence (Transfer of Functions) Act 1964.
- Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act 1972.
- The Secretary of State for Transport Order 1976.
- The Transfer of Functions (Transport, Local Government and the Regions) Order 2002.
- The Secretaries of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions and for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Order 2001.
- The Secretary of State for Education Order 2010.
- The Secretaries of State for Education and Skills and for Work and Pensions Order 2002.
- Brazier, Rodney (2020). Choosing a Prime Minister : The Transfer of Power in Britain. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-19-260307-4. OCLC 1182632161.
- The Secretary of State for Justice Order 2007.
- The Secretaries of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, for International Trade and for Exiting the European Union and the Transfer of Functions (Education and Skills) Order 2016.
- The Transfer of Functions (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) Order 2017.
- The Secretaries of State for Health and Social Care and for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Transfer of Functions (Commonhold Land) Order 2018.
- The Transfer of Functions (Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs) Order 2020.
- The Transfer of Functions (Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) Order 2021.
- Duffy, Nick (1 February 2020). "Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay exits cabinet as Boris Johnson shutters department". inews.co.uk. Retrieved 31 March 2021.