Secretary of State for Wales

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Secretary of State
for Wales
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Royal Arms as used by HM Government
Official portrait of Simon Hart.jpg
Simon Hart

since 16 December 2019
Office of the Secretary of State for Wales
StyleThe Right Honourable
(Formal prefix)
Wales Secretary
StatusSecretary of state
Minister of the Crown
AppointerMonarch on the advice of the Prime Minister
Formation18 October 1964
WebsiteOfficial website

The Secretary of State for Wales (Welsh: Ysgrifennydd Gwladol Cymru) also referred to as the Wales Secretary, is a secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom. The incumbent is a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom, 19th in the ministerial ranking.[1]

The incumbent is Simon Hart, following his appointment by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in December 2019.


In the first half of the 20th century, a number of politicians had supported the creation of the post of Secretary of State for Wales as a step towards home rule for Wales. A post of Minister of Welsh Affairs was created in 1951 under the Home Secretary and was upgraded to minister of state level in 1954.

The Labour Party proposed the creation of a Welsh Office run by a Secretary of State for Wales in their manifesto for the 1959 general election. When they came to power in 1964 this was soon put into effect.

The post of Secretary of State for Wales came into existence on 17 October 1964; the first incumbent was Jim Griffiths, MP for Llanelli. The position entailed responsibility for Wales, and expenditure on certain public services was delegated from Westminster. In April 1965 administration of Welsh affairs, which had previously been divided between a number of government departments, was united in a newly created Welsh Office with the Secretary of State for Wales at its head, and the Welsh Secretary became responsible for education and training, health, trade and industry, environment, transport and agriculture within Wales.


During the 1980s and 1990s, as the number of Conservative MPs for Welsh constituencies dwindled almost to zero, the office fell into disrepute. Nicholas Edwards, MP for Pembrokeshire, held the post for eight years. On his departure, the government ceased to look within Wales for the Secretary of State, and the post was increasingly used as a way of getting junior high-fliers into the Cabinet. John Redwood in particular caused embarrassment when he publicly demonstrated his inability to sing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, the Welsh national anthem, at a conference.

The introduction of the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government, after the devolution referendum of 1997, was the beginning of a new era. On 1 July 1999 the majority of the functions of the Welsh Office transferred to the new assembly. The Welsh Office was disbanded, but the post of Secretary of State for Wales was retained, as the head of the newly created Wales Office.

Since 1999 there have been calls for the office of Welsh Secretary to be scrapped or merged with the posts of Secretary of State for Scotland and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, to reflect the lesser powers of the role since devolution.[2][3] Those calling for a Secretary of State for the Union include Robert Hazell,[4] in a department into which Rodney Brazier has suggested adding a Minister of State for England with responsibility for English local government.[5]

Ministers and Secretaries of State[edit]

Colour key
  Conservative   National Liberal   Labour

Ministers of Welsh Affairs (1951–1964)[edit]

Name Term of office Length of term Political party Prime Minister
Sir David Maxwell Fyfe
(also Home Secretary)
David Maxwell Fyfe, Nuremberg, 1946 (Art. IWM ART LD 5863).jpg 28 October 1951 18 October 1954 2 years, 11 months and 20 days Conservative Sir Winston Churchill
Gwilym Lloyd George
(also Home Secretary)
Gwilym Lloyd George cropped.png 18 October 1954 13 January 1957 2 years, 2 months and 26 days Liberal & Conservative
Sir Anthony Eden
Henry Brooke
(also Min. of Housing & Local Govt.)
13 January 1957 9 October 1961 4 years, 8 months and 26 days Conservative Harold Macmillan
Charles Hill
(also Min. of Housing & Local Govt.)
9 October 1961 13 July 1962 9 months and 4 days National Liberal & Conservative
Sir Keith Joseph
(also Min. of Housing & Local Govt.)
13 July 1962 16 October 1964 2 years, 3 months and 3 days Conservative
Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Secretaries of State for Wales (1964–present)[edit]

Name Term of office Length of term Political party Prime Minister
Jim Griffiths 18 October 1964 5 April 1966 1 year, 5 months and 18 days Labour Harold Wilson
Cledwyn Hughes 5 April 1966 5 April 1968 2 years Labour
George Thomas 5 April 1968 20 June 1970 2 years, 2 months and 15 days Labour
Peter Thomas 20 June 1970 5 March 1974 3 years, 8 months and 13 days Conservative Edward Heath
John Morris Official portrait of Lord Morris of Aberavon crop 2.jpg 5 March 1974 4 May 1979 5 years, 1 month and 29 days Labour Harold Wilson
James Callaghan
Nicholas Edwards 4 May 1979 13 June 1987 8 years, 1 month and 9 days Conservative Margaret Thatcher
Peter Walker 13 June 1987 4 May 1990 2 years, 10 months and 21 days Conservative
David Hunt Official portrait of Lord Hunt of Wirral crop 2.jpg 4 May 1990 27 May 1993 3 years and 23 days Conservative John Major
John Redwood Official portrait of Rt Hon John Redwood MP crop 2.jpg 27 May 1993 26 June 1995[fn 1] 2 years and 30 days Conservative
David Hunt
Official portrait of Lord Hunt of Wirral crop 2.jpg 26 June 1995 5 July 1995 9 days Conservative
William Hague William Hague, Foreign Sec (crop).jpg 5 July 1995 2 May 1997 1 year, 9 months and 27 days Conservative
Ron Davies Rondavies1998.jpg 2 May 1997 27 October 1998[fn 2] 1 year, 5 months and 25 days Labour Tony Blair
Alun Michael AlunMichael crop.jpg 27 October 1998 28 July 1999[fn 3] 9 months and 1 day Labour
Paul Murphy Official portrait of Lord Murphy of Torfaen 2020 crop 2.jpg 28 July 1999 24 October 2002 3 years, 2 months and 26 days Labour
Peter Hain
(also Ldr. of the Commons 2003–05
Northern Ireland Sec. 2005–07
Work & Pensions Sec. 2007–08)
Official portrait of Lord Hain crop 2, 2019.jpg 24 October 2002 24 January 2008 5 years and 3 months Labour
Gordon Brown
Paul Murphy Official portrait of Lord Murphy of Torfaen 2020 crop 2.jpg 24 January 2008 5 June 2009 1 year, 4 months and 12 days Labour
Peter Hain Official portrait of Lord Hain crop 2, 2019.jpg 5 June 2009 11 May 2010 11 months and 6 days Labour
Cheryl Gillan Official portrait of Rt Hon Dame Cheryl Gillan MP crop 2.jpg 11 May 2010 4 September 2012 2 years, 3 months and 24 days Conservative David Cameron
David Jones Official portrait of Rt Hon David Jones MP crop 2.jpg 4 September 2012 14 July 2014 1 year, 10 months and 10 days Conservative
Stephen Crabb Official portrait of Rt Hon Stephen Crabb MP crop 2.jpg 15 July 2014 19 March 2016 1 year, 8 months and 4 days Conservative
Alun Cairns Official portrait of Rt Hon Alun Cairns MP crop 2.jpg 19 March 2016 6 November 2019 3 years, 7 months and 18 days Conservative
Theresa May
Boris Johnson
Simon Hart Official portrait of Simon Hart crop 2.jpg 16 December 2019[6] Incumbent 1 year, 7 months and 5 days* Conservative

* Incumbent's length of term last updated: 21 July 2021.

  1. ^ Redwood resigned to stand in the 1995 Conservative leadership election. During the election, Hunt acted as Secretary of State.
  2. ^ Resigned following a "moment of madness" on Clapham Common.
  3. ^ Following implementation of the Government of Wales Act 1998, and the 1999 Assembly election, Michael held office as inaugural First Secretary for Wales from 12 May 1999.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Her Majesty's Government: The Cabinet". Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  2. ^ "'Scrap Welsh secretary' demand". BBC News. 19 March 2001. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  3. ^ "Wales Office in melting pot". BBC News. 12 June 2003. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  4. ^ LETTERS@THETIMES.CO.UK, WRITE TO. "Times letters: Mark Sedwill's call for a cull of the cabinet". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  5. ^ UKCLA (7 September 2020). "Rodney Brazier: Why is Her Majesty's Government so big?". UK Constitutional Law Association. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  6. ^ "Cabinet reshuffle: Simon Hart appointed new Welsh secretary". BBC News. Retrieved 17 December 2019.

External links[edit]