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Secretary of State for Wales
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Official portrait of Rt Hon Robert Buckland MP.jpg
Sir Robert Buckland

since 7 July 2022
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
Term lengthAt His Majesty's pleasure
Formation18 October 1964
First holderJim Griffiths
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, with responsibility for the Wales Office. The incumbent is a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom, 19th in the ministerial ranking.[1]

The officeholder works alongside the other Wales Office ministers. The corresponding shadow minister is the shadow secretary of state for Wales. The position is held by Robert Buckland, following Simon Hart's resignation on 6 July 2022.[2]


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.[3][4] Those calling for a Secretary of State for the Union include Robert Hazell,[5] in a department into which Rodney Brazier has suggested adding a Minister of State for England with responsibility for English local government.[6]

Ministers and secretaries of state

Colour key
  Conservative   National Liberal   Labour

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

Name Term of office Length of term Political party Cabinet Prime Minister
Sir David Maxwell Fyfe
MP for Liverpool West Derby
(also Home Secretary)
David Maxwell Fyfe, Nuremberg, 1946 (Art. IWM ART LD 5863).jpg
28 October 1951 18 October 1954 2 years, 355 days Conservative Churchill III Sir Winston Churchill
Gwilym Lloyd George
MP for Newcastle North
(also Home Secretary)
Gwilym Lloyd George cropped.png
18 October 1954 13 January 1957 2 years, 87 days Liberal & Conservative Churchill III
Eden Sir Anthony Eden
Henry Brooke
MP for Hampstead
(also Min. of Housing & Local Govt.)
13 January 1957 9 October 1961 4 years, 269 days Conservative Macmillan I Harold Macmillan
Macmillan II
Charles Hill
MP for Luton
(also Min. of Housing & Local Govt.)
9 October 1961 13 July 1962 9 months and 4 days National Liberal & Conservative Macmillan II
Sir Keith Joseph
MP for Leeds North East
(also Min. of Housing & Local Govt.)
13 July 1962 16 October 1964 2 years, 95 days Conservative Macmillan II
Douglas-Home Sir Alec Douglas-Home

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

Name Term of office Length of term Political party Cabinet Prime Minister
Jim Griffiths
MP for Llanelli
18 October 1964 5 April 1966 1 year, 169 days Labour Wilson I Harold Wilson
Cledwyn Hughes
MP for Anglesey
5 April 1966 5 April 1968 2 years Labour Wilson II
George Thomas
MP for Cardiff West
5 April 1968 20 June 1970 2 years, 76 days Labour Wilson II
Peter Thomas
MP for Hendon South
20 June 1970 5 March 1974 3 years, 258 days Conservative Heath Edward Heath
John Morris
MP for Aberavon
Official portrait of Lord Morris of Aberavon crop 2.jpg
5 March 1974 4 May 1979 5 years, 60 days Labour Wilson III Harold Wilson
Callaghan James Callaghan
Nicholas Edwards
MP for Pembrokeshire
4 May 1979 13 June 1987 8 years, 40 days Conservative Thatcher I Margaret Thatcher
Thatcher II
Peter Walker
MP for Worcester
13 June 1987 4 May 1990 2 years, 325 days Conservative Thatcher III
David Hunt
MP for Wirral West
Official portrait of Lord Hunt of Wirral crop 2.jpg
4 May 1990 27 May 1993 3 years, 23 days Conservative Major I John Major
Major II
John Redwood
MP for Wokingham
Official portrait of Rt Hon John Redwood MP crop 2.jpg
27 May 1993 26 June 1995[fn 1] 2 years, 30 days Conservative Major II
David Hunt
MP for Wirral West
Official portrait of Lord Hunt of Wirral crop 2.jpg
26 June 1995 5 July 1995 9 days Conservative Major II
William Hague
MP for Richmond (Yorks)
William Hague, Foreign Sec (crop).jpg
5 July 1995 2 May 1997 1 year, 301 days Conservative Major II
Ron Davies
MP for Caerphilly
2 May 1997 27 October 1998[fn 2] 1 year, 178 days Labour Blair I Tony Blair
Alun Michael
MP for Cardiff South and Penarth
AlunMichael crop.jpg
27 October 1998 28 July 1999[fn 3] 9 months and 1 day Labour Blair I
Paul Murphy
MP for Torfaen
Official portrait of Lord Murphy of Torfaen 2020 crop 2.jpg
28 July 1999 24 October 2002 3 years, 88 days Labour Blair I
Blair II
Peter Hain
MP for Neath
(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, 92 days Labour Blair II
Blair III
Brown Gordon Brown
Paul Murphy
MP for Torfaen
Official portrait of Lord Murphy of Torfaen 2020 crop 2.jpg
24 January 2008 5 June 2009 1 year, 132 days Labour Brown
Peter Hain
MP for Neath
Official portrait of Lord Hain crop 2, 2019.jpg
5 June 2009 11 May 2010 11 months and 6 days Labour Brown
Cheryl Gillan
MP for Chesham and Amersham
Official portrait of Rt Hon Dame Cheryl Gillan MP crop 2.jpg
11 May 2010 4 September 2012 2 years, 116 days Conservative Coalition David Cameron
David Jones
MP for Clwyd West
Official portrait of Rt Hon David Jones MP crop 2.jpg
4 September 2012 14 July 2014 1 year, 313 days Conservative Coalition
Stephen Crabb
MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire
Official portrait of Rt Hon Stephen Crabb MP crop 2.jpg
15 July 2014 19 March 2016 1 year, 248 days Conservative Coalition
Cameron II
Alun Cairns
MP for Vale of Glamorgan
Official portrait of Rt Hon Alun Cairns MP crop 2.jpg
19 March 2016 6 November 2019 3 years, 232 days Conservative Cameron II
May I Theresa May
May II
Johnson I Boris Johnson
Simon Hart
MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire
Official portrait of Simon Hart crop 2.jpg
16 December 2019[7] 6 July 2022 2 years, 202 days Conservative Johnson I
Johnson II
Sir Robert Buckland
MP for South Swindon
Official portrait of Rt Hon Robert Buckland MP crop 2.jpg
7 July 2022 Incumbent 2 months and 2 days* Conservative Johnson II
Truss Liz Truss

* Incumbent's length of term last updated: 9 September 2022.

  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


  1. ^ "Her Majesty's Government: The Cabinet". Retrieved 30 June 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ "Welsh Secretary Simon Hart resigns from UK Government - 'no other option left'". Nation.Cymru. 6 July 2022. Retrieved 6 July 2022.
  3. ^ "'Scrap Welsh secretary' demand". BBC News. 19 March 2001. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  4. ^ "Wales Office in melting pot". BBC News. 12 June 2003. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  5. ^ LETTERS@THETIMES.CO.UK, WRITE TO (30 July 2020). "Times letters: Mark Sedwill's call for a cull of the cabinet". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460.
  6. ^ UKCLA (7 September 2020). "Rodney Brazier: Why is Her Majesty's Government so big?". UK Constitutional Law Association. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  7. ^ "Cabinet reshuffle: Simon Hart appointed new Welsh secretary". BBC News. 16 December 2019. Retrieved 17 December 2019.