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Defence Council of the United Kingdom

The Defence Council of the United Kingdom is the body legally entrusted with the defence of the United Kingdom and its overseas territories and with control over the British armed forces, and is part of the Ministry of Defence.[2]

Defence Council of the United Kingdom
Agency overview
  • Defence Board
JurisdictionUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
HeadquartersWhitehall, Westminster, London
Agency executive
Parent agencyMinistry of Defence
A sign erected under the auspices of the Defence Council


Prior to 1964, there were five bodies responsible for the armed forces: the Admiralty, the War Office, the Air Ministry, the Ministry of Aviation, and a smaller Ministry of Defence. By Orders-in-Council issued under the Defence (Transfer of Functions) Act 1964,[3] the functions of these bodies were transferred to the Defence Council and the Secretary of State for Defence, who heads a larger Ministry of Defence.

The Secretary of State for Defence, who is a member of the Cabinet, chairs the Defence Council, and is accountable to the Queen and to Parliament for its business. The letters patent constituting the Defence Council vest it with the power of command over Her Majesty's Forces and give it responsibility for their administration, or in the words of the letters patent:

…to administer such matters pertaining to Our Naval Military and Air Forces as We through Our Principal Secretary of State for Defence direct them to execute And to have command under Us of all Officers Ratings Soldiers and Airmen of Our Naval Military and Air Forces…

In practice, the Defence Council is a formal body, and almost all its work is conducted by the Defence Board. In addition, the three service boards (the Admiralty Board, the Army Board and the Air Force Board), which are sub-committees of the Defence Council meet annually for each service chief to report to the Secretary of State on the health of their respective services.[4]


Defence BoardEdit

The Defence Board is described as the highest committee of the Ministry of Defence, responsible for the full range of defence business other than the conduct of operations.[6] It meets every month and provides strategic direction and oversight of defence matters.[7]

Members Title Name
Political Secretary of State for Defence (Chairperson) The Rt Hon Ben Wallace
Minister of State Baroness Goldie
Her Majesty's Civil Service Permanent Secretary Sir Stephen Lovegrove
Director General Finance Cat Little
Military Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nicholas Carter
Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Timothy Fraser
Non-executive board members Lead Non-Executive Board Member Sir Gerry Grimstone
Chair of the Defence Audit Committee Simon Henry
Chair of the Defence Equipment and Support Board Paul Skinner
Chair of the People Committee Danuta Grey



  1. ^ at 7:21pm, 24th July 2019. "Ben Wallace Named New Defence Secretary". Forces Network. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  2. ^ "Defence Council". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
  3. ^ "No. 43277". The London Gazette. 20 March 1964. p. 2545.
  4. ^ "How Defence Works (December 2015)" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  5. ^ MOD website
  6. ^ "Our Governance". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  7. ^ "How Defence Works (December 2015)" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 16 June 2016.

External LinksEdit