First Secretary of State
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Incumbent
Vacant

since 15 September 2021
Government of the United Kingdom
Office of the Prime Minister
StyleMr/Madam Secretary
(informal)
The Right Honourable
(formal)
His/Her Excellency
(diplomatic)
StatusDeputy to the head of government (if a Deputy Prime Minister is not appointed)
Member of
Reports toPrime Minister
ResidenceNone, may use Grace and favour residences
SeatWestminster, London
NominatorPrime Minister
AppointerThe Crown
(on the advice of the Prime Minister)
Term lengthNo fixed term
Inaugural holderRab Butler
Formation13 July 1962; 59 years ago (1962-07-13)
Salary£153,022 per annum
(including £81,932 MP salary)[1]
WebsiteOfficial website
The office of First Secretary of State was created for Rab Butler.
The office of First Secretary of State was created for Rab Butler.

The 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,[2] including over all other Secretaries of State.[3] The office is not always in use, so there have sometimes been extended gaps between successive holders.

The office is currently vacant, having most recently been held by Dominic Raab between July 2019 and September 2021.

Constitutional position

Like the Deputy Prime Minister, the First Secretary enjoys no right of automatic succession to the office of Prime Minister.[4] 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."[5]

The office temporarily enjoyed some greater constitutional footing between when it was incorporated as a corporation sole in 2002[6] and having all of its remaining functions transferred in 2008.[7] During most of this time, John Prescott was the First Secretary.

History

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.[8] The office gave Butler ministerial superiority over the rest of the Cabinet[9] and indicated that he was second-in-command.[10] 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."[10]

Later, Michael Heseltine and John Prescott held the office alongside being Deputy Prime Minister.[11] 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 William Hague was First Secretary.[11]

Responsibilities

The office is currently listed on the gov.uk website as bringing no additional responsibilities.[12] 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.[13] 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",[14] but in certain circumstances the office "...can assume acute importance and real power" and it may yet become an office of substance.[15]

List of First Secretaries of State

First Secretary of State
Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of office Other ministerial offices Party Ministry Ref.
Rab Butler.jpg
R. A. Butler[16]
MP for Saffron Walden
(1902–1982)
13 July
1962
18 October
1963
Conservative Macmillan II [17]
GeorgeBrown1967.jpg
George Brown
MP for Belper
(1914–1985)
16 October
1964
11 August
1966
Labour Wilson
(I & II)
[17]
Michael Stewart (1966).jpg
Michael Stewart
MP for Fulham
(1906–1990)
11 August
1966
6 April
1968
Labour [17]
Mme Barbara Castle, Ministre britannique du développement outre-mer.jpg
Barbara Castle
MP for Blackburn
(1910–2002)
6 April
1968
19 June
1970
Labour [17]
Lord Heseltine (6969083278).jpg
Michael Heseltine
MP for Henley
(born 1933)
20 July
1995
2 May
1997
Conservative Major II [18]
John Prescott on his last day as Deputy Prime Minister, June 2007.jpg
John Prescott
MP for Kingston upon Hull East
(born 1938)
8 June
2001
27 June
2007
Labour Blair II [19]
Blair III
Peter Mandelson, September 2008.jpg
The Lord Mandelson
(born 1953)
5 June
2009
11 May
2010
Labour Brown
William Hague Foreign Secretary (2010).jpg
William Hague
MP for Richmond (Yorks)
(born 1961)
12 May
2010
8 May
2015
Conservative Cameron–Clegg
(Con.L.D.)
[20]
Osborne 2015.jpg
George Osborne
MP for Tatton
(born 1971)
8 May
2015
13 July
2016
Conservative Cameron II [21]
Official portrait of Rt Hon Damian Green MP crop 2.jpg
Damian Green
MP for Ashford
(born 1956)
11 June
2017
20 December
2017
Conservative May II [22]
Official portrait of Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP crop 2.jpg
Dominic Raab
MP for Esher and Walton
(born 1974)
24 July
2019
15 September
2021
Conservative Johnson
(I & II)
[23]

Timeline

Dominic RaabDamian GreenGeorge OsborneWilliam HaguePeter MandelsonJohn PrescottMichael HeseltineBarbara CastleMichael StewartGeorge BrownRab Butler

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Served as Secretary of State for Economic Affairs until August 1967
  2. ^ Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from March 1968
  3. ^ Deputy Prime Minister from May 1997
  4. ^ Served as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs until July 2014
  5. ^ Served as Leader of the House of Commons from July 2014
  6. ^ Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs until September 2020
  7. ^ Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs from September 2020

References

  1. ^ "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.
  2. ^ "The Cabinet Manual" (PDF). gov.uk. 2010. 3.12. Retrieved 3 June 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ Watt, Nicholas (8 May 2015). "George Osborne made first secretary of state in cabinet reshuffle". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  4. ^ Norton, Philip (2020). Governing Britain: Parliament, Ministers and Our Ambiguous Constitution. Manchester University Press. p. 152. ISBN 9-781526-145451.
  5. ^ "Statement from Downing Street: 6 April 2020". gov.uk. 6 April 2020. Retrieved 3 June 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ The Transfer of Functions (Transport, Local Government and the Regions) Order 2002, art 3(1).
  7. ^ The Transfer of Functions (Miscellaneous) Order 2008, art 7
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Brazier, Rodney (2020). Choosing a Prime Minister: The Transfer of Power in Britain. Oxford University Press. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-19-260307-4.
  10. ^ a b Seldon, Anthony; Meakin, Jonathan; Thoms, Illias (2021). The Impossible Office? The History of the British Prime Minister. Cambridge University Press. p. 171. ISBN 9781316515327.
  11. ^ a b Brazier, Rodney (2020). Choosing a Prime Minister: The Transfer of Power in Britain. Oxford University Press. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-19-260307-4.
  12. ^ "First Secretary of State". gov.uk. Retrieved 3 June 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ Norton, Philip (2020). Governing Britain: Parliament, Ministers and Our Ambiguous Constitution. Manchester University Press. pp. 149–50. ISBN 9-781526-145451.
  14. ^ Thornton, Stephen (14 June 2021). "From Rab to Raab: The Construction of the Office of First Secretary of State". Parliamentary Affairs. 2021:0: 19.
  15. ^ Thornton, Stephen; Kirkup, Jonathan (14 June 2021). "From Rab to Raab: The Construction of the Office of First Secretary of State". Parliamentary Affairs. 2021:0: 20.
  16. ^ Howard, Anthony (February 7, 2013). RAB: The Life of R.A. Butler. A&C Black. ISBN 9781448210824.
  17. ^ a b c d David Butler and Gareth Butler, British Political Facts 1900–1994 (7th edn, Macmillan 1994) 62.
  18. ^ "Lord Heseltine". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  19. ^ "Lord Prescott". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  20. ^ "Lord Hague of Richmond". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  21. ^ "Rt Hon George Osborne". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  22. ^ "Rt Hon Damian Green MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  23. ^ "Dominic Raab". Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 28 April 2022.