Secretary of State for Economic Affairs

The Secretary of State for Economic Affairs was briefly an office of Her Majesty's government in the United Kingdom. It was established by Harold Wilson in October 1964. Wilson had been impressed by the six-week experiment of a Minister for Economic Affairs in 1947, an office occupied by Stafford Cripps before he was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. The office was revived for eight months in 1950 and held by Hugh Gaitskell. After a Conservative victory at the 1951 election, Churchill also appointed a Minister of Economic Affairs, Arthur Salter, in the period 1951–52.

United Kingdom
Secretary of State for
Economic Affairs
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Royal Arms as used by Her Majesty's Government
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
Department of Economic Affairs
StyleThe Right Honourable
(Formal prefix)
Economic Affairs Secretary
Member ofBritish Cabinet
Privy Council
Reports toThe Prime Minister
SeatWestminster, London
AppointerThe British Monarch
on advice of the Prime Minister
Term lengthNo fixed term
Inaugural holderGeorge Brown
Formation19 October 1964
Abolished6 October 1969
Functions reincorporated into HM Treasury

Wilson's advisers Patrick Blackett and Thomas Balogh advised him to create a new ministry, to be called the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), in order to drive through his economic plan. Wilson wanted to divide the functions of the Treasury in two, in part to reduce its power. The DEA, as it soon became known, would undertake long-term planning of the economy and industry, while the Treasury would determine short-term revenue raising and financial management. The DEA was therefore tasked with the preparation of a National Plan for the economy, which was published in September 1965.

Critics of Wilson's approach, including Douglas Jay, suspected the main reason for the Department was to appease George Brown, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. The story (which was true) that Brown finally accepted the job while riding in a taxi with Wilson tended to lend credence to this analysis.

Under Brown, the Department had a reasonable degree of influence. However, Brown was moved to the Foreign Office in August 1966, and the two succeeding secretaries of state were not of his rank. The Treasury was able to claw back its power and the Department had become moribund long before it was wound up in 1969.

The Department of Economic Affairs was the model for the fictional Department of Administrative Affairs in the television series Yes, Minister.[1]

Department of Economic Affairs (1947; 1950 and 1951-52)Edit

Minister for Economic AffairsEdit

Colour key (for political parties):

Name Term of office Political party P.M. Chancellor
Sir Stafford Cripps 29 September 1947 13 November 1947 Labour Attlee Dalton
Office not in use 1947–1950 Cripps
Hugh Gaitskell 28 February 1950 19 October 1950 Labour
Office not in use 1950–1951 Gaitskell
Sir Arthur Salter 26 October 1951 November 1952 Conservative Churchill Butler

Department of Economic Affairs (1964–1969)Edit

Secretaries of State for Economic AffairsEdit

Colour key (for political parties):

Name Term of office Political party P.M. Chancellor
George Brown 16 October 1964 11 August 1966 Labour Wilson Callaghan
Michael Stewart 11 August 1966 29 August 1967 Labour
Peter Shore 29 August 1967 6 October 1969 Labour Jenkins

Ministers of State for Economic AffairsEdit

Under-Secretaries of State for Economic AffairsEdit


Source: D. Butler and G. Butler, Twentieth Century British Political Facts 1900–2000

  1. ^ Lynn, Jonathan; Jay, Antony (1981). Yes Minister: Volume One. London: BBC Books. p. 7. ISBN 0-563-17934-1. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)