Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs
|Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office|
The Right Honourable
(within the UK and Commonwealth)
|Type||Minister of the Crown|
|Status||Secretary of State|
Great Office of State
|Reports to||The Prime Minister|
|Seat||King Charles Street|
|Nominator||The Prime Minister|
(on the advice of the Prime Minister)
|Term length||At His Majesty's pleasure|
|First holder||Charles James Fox|
(as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs)
|Salary||£154,089 per annum (2022)|
(including £86,584 MP salary)
|This article is part of a series on|
|Politics of the United Kingdom|
|United Kingdom portal|
The secretary of state for foreign, Commonwealth and development affairs, also known as the foreign secretary, is a secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom, with responsibility for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. The role is seen as one of the most senior ministers in the UK Government and is a Great Office of State. The incumbent is a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom and National Security Council, and reports directly to the prime minister.
The officeholder works alongside the other Foreign Office ministers. The corresponding shadow minister is the shadow foreign secretary. The Foreign Affairs Select Committee also evaluates the secretary of state's performance.
The current foreign secretary is Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton, who served as prime minister from 2010 until 2016. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appointed Cameron to the post in the November 2023 cabinet reshuffle.
In contrast to what is generally known as a foreign minister in many other countries, the secretary of states' remit includes:
- British relations with foreign countries and governments
- Promotion of British interests abroad
- Matters pertaining to the Commonwealth of Nations and the Overseas Territories
- Oversight for the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)
The official residence of the foreign secretary is 1 Carlton Gardens, in London. The foreign secretary also has the use of Chevening House, a country house in Kent, South East England, and works from the Foreign Office in Whitehall.
The title secretary of state in the government of England dates back to the early 17th century. The position of secretary of state for foreign affairs was created in the British governmental reorganisation of 1782, in which the Northern and Southern Departments became the Foreign Office and Home Office respectively. The India Office which, like the Colonial Office and the Dominions Office, had been a constituent predecessor department of the Foreign Office, was closed down in 1947.
Eventually, the position of secretary of state for foreign and Commonwealth affairs came into existence in 1968 with the merger of the functions of secretary of the state for foreign affairs and the secretary of state for Commonwealth affairs into a single department of state. Margaret Beckett, appointed in 2006 by Tony Blair, was the first woman to have held the post.
The post of secretary of state for foreign, Commonwealth and development affairs was created in 2020 when position holder Dominic Raab absorbed the responsibilities of the secretary of state for international development.
List of foreign secretaries
Secretaries of state for foreign affairs (1782–1968)
- ^† Died in office.
- The Prince of Wales served as prince regent from 5 February 1811.
- Elevated to the Peerage of the United Kingdom in November 1803.
- Elected to a new constituency in the 1807 general election.
- Elected to a new constituency in the 1950 general election.
- Walker was the MP for Smethwick and Labour's shadow Foreign Secretary, prior to the 1964 general election. He lost his seat in the election but was appointed to the post anyway. He resigned after fighting and losing a 1965 by-election in Leyton.
Secretaries of state for foreign and Commonwealth affairs (1968–2020)
Secretaries of state for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs (2020–present)
|Term of office||Party||Ministry||Sovereign|
MP for Esher and Walton
|2 September 2020||15 September 2021||Conservative||Johnson II||Elizabeth II|
MP for South West Norfolk
|15 September 2021||6 September 2022||Conservative|
MP for Braintree
|6 September 2022||13 November 2023||Conservative||Truss|
Baron Cameron of Chipping Norton
|13 November 2023||Incumbent||Conservative|
- Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
- Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
- Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs
- Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations
- Secretary of State for the Colonies
- Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs
- Foreign minister
- Great Offices of State
- "Salaries of Members of His Majesty's Government – Financial Year 2022–23" (PDF). 15 December 2022.
- "Pay and expenses for MPs". parliament.uk. Retrieved 15 December 2022.
- "Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs". gov.uk. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
- "Afghanistan: The questions facing Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab". BBC News. 1 September 2021. Retrieved 4 September 2021.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will be grilled by the Foreign Affairs Committee over his handling of the UK's withdrawal from Afghanistan.
- Archives, The National. "Senior Cabinet posts". www.nationalarchives.gov.uk.
- "Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 4 September 2014.
- "Ministerial responsibility". GCHQ. 23 March 2016. Archived from the original on 7 July 2018. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
Day-to-day ministerial responsibility for GCHQ lies with the Foreign Secretary.
- "Written Answers to Questions: Foreign and Commonwealth Office: 1 Carlton Gardens". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 6 May 2009. col. 165W.
- "Dominic Raab and Liz Truss agree to share 115-room mansion". BBC News. 13 October 2021.
- Hughes, Laura (25 December 2021). "Britain's Foreign Office has badly lost its way, say critics". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 10 December 2022. Retrieved 4 February 2022.
- Sainty, J. C. (1973). "Introduction". Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 2 – Officials of the Secretaries of State 1660–1782. University of London. pp. 1–21 – via British History Online.
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.
- "India Office". British Museum. Retrieved 4 February 2022.
- "Margaret Beckett". European Leadership Network. Retrieved 4 February 2022.
- "Merging success: Bringing together the FCO and DFID : Government Response to Committee's Second Report". UK Parliament. Retrieved 4 February 2022.
- "Past Foreign Secretaries". gov.uk. Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
- Including honorifics and constituencies for elected MPs.
- Including honorifics and constituencies for elected MPs.
- "Boris Johnson quits to add to pressure on May over Brexit". BBC News. 9 July 2018.
- "Jeremy Hunt replaces Boris Johnson as foreign secretary". BBC News. 9 July 2018.
- Andrew Sparrow (24 July 2019). "Raab appointed foreign secretary and first secretary of state". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
- Walker, Peter (13 November 2023). "Explainer: He's not an MP, so how can David Cameron return to the cabinet?". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 November 2023.
- Cecil, Algernon. British foreign secretaries, 1807–1916: studies in personality and policy (1927). pp. 89–130. online
- Goodman, Sam. The Imperial Premiership: The Role of the Modern Prime Minister in Foreign Policy Making, 1964–2015 (Oxford UP, 2016).
- Hughes, Michael. British Foreign Secretaries in an Uncertain World, 1919–1939. (Routledge, 2004).
- Johnson, Gaynor. "Introduction: The Foreign Office and British Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century", Contemporary British History, (2004) 18:3, 1–12, doi:10.1080/1361946042000259279
- Neilson, Keith, and Thomas G. Otte. The permanent under-secretary for foreign affairs, 1854–1946 (Routledge, 2008).
- Otte, Thomas G. The Foreign Office Mind: The Making of British Foreign Policy, 1865–1914 (Cambridge UP, 2011).
- Seldon, Anthony. The Impossible Office? The History of the British Prime Minister (2021) excerpt major scholarly history. Covers the relations with Prime Minister in Chapter 8.
- Steiner, Zara. The Foreign Office and Foreign Policy, 1898–1914 (1986).
- Temperley, Harold. "British Secret Diplomacy from Canning to Grey." Cambridge Historical Journal 6.1 (1938): 1–32.
- Theakston, Kevin, ed. British foreign secretaries since 1974 (Routledge, 2004).
- Wilson, Keith M., ed. British foreign secretaries and foreign policy: from Crimean War to First World War (1987).