Secretary of State for Defence

The secretary of state for defence, also referred to as the defence secretary, is a secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom, with overall responsibility for the business of the Ministry of Defence.[1] The incumbent is a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom, sixth in the ministerial ranking.[2]

Secretary of State for Defence
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Flag of the British Secretary of State for Defence.svg
Official portrait of Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP.jpg
Incumbent
Ben Wallace

since 24 July 2019
Ministry of Defence
Style
TypeSecretary of state
Minister of the Crown
Member of
Reports toThe Prime Minister
SeatWestminster
AppointerThe Crown
on advice of the Prime Minister
Term lengthAt Her Majesty's pleasure
Constituting instrumentDefence (Transfer of Functions) Act 1964 section 1(1)(a)
PrecursorMinister of Defence
Formation1 April 1964
First holderPeter Thorneycroft
DeputyMinister for Defence Procurement (since 2020)
Minister of State for the Armed Forces (before 2020)
Websitewww.gov.uk

The post of Secretary of State for Defence was created on 1 April 1964 replacing the positions of Minister of Defence, First Lord of the Admiralty, Secretary of State for War and Secretary of State for Air, while the individual offices of the British Armed Forces were abolished and their functions transferred to the Ministry of Defence. In 1997, Michael Portillo was filling this post at the time of the Portillo moment.[3] In 2019, Penny Mordaunt became the UK's first female defence secretary.[4]

The postholder is supported by the other ministers in the Defence Ministerial team. The corresponding shadow minister is the shadow secretary of state for defence.

The current secretary of state for defence is Ben Wallace MP, since his appointment by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in July 2019.[5]

ResponsibilitiesEdit

Corresponding to what is generally known as a defence minister in many other countries, the Defence Secretary's remit includes:

HistoryEdit

Minister for Co-ordination of Defence (1936–1940)Edit

The position of Minister for Co-ordination of Defence was a British Cabinet-level position established in 1936 to oversee and co-ordinate the rearmament of Britain's defences. It was established by the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin in response to criticism that Britain's armed forces were understrength compared to those of Nazi Germany. When the Second World War broke out, the new Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain formed a small War Cabinet and it was expected that the Minister would serve as a spokesperson for the three service ministers, the Secretary of State for War, the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Secretary of State for Air; however, political considerations resulted in all three posts being included in the Cabinet, and this role proved increasingly redundant. In April 1940 the position was formally wound up and the functions transferred to other Ministers.

Minister of Defence (1940–1964)Edit

The post of Minister of Defence was responsible for co-ordination of defence and security from its creation in 1940 until its abolition in 1964. The post was a Cabinet level post and generally ranked above the three service ministers, some of whom, however, continued to also serve in Cabinet.

On his appointment as Prime Minister in May 1940, Winston Churchill created for himself the new post of Minister of Defence. The post was created in response to previous criticism that there had been no clear single minister in charge of the prosecution of World War II. In 1946, the post became the only cabinet-level post representing the military, with the three service ministers – the Secretary of State for War, the First Lord of the Admiralty, and the Secretary of State for Air, now formally subordinated to the Minister of Defence.

Secretary of State for Defence (1964–present)Edit

The post was created in 1964 as successor to the posts of Minister for Coordination of Defence and Minister of Defence. It replaced the positions of First Lord of the Admiralty, Secretary of State for War and Secretary of State for Air, as the Admiralty, War Office and Air Ministry were merged into the Ministry of Defence (the Secretary of State for War had already ceased to be a cabinet position in 1946, with the creation of the cabinet-level Minister of Defence).

Principal political leaders of the English/British Armed Forces:
The Royal Navy The Army The RAF Co-ordination
1628 First Lord of the Admiralty (1628–1964)
1794 Secretary of State for War (1794–1801)
1801 Secretary of State for War and the Colonies (1801–1854)
1854 Secretary of State for War (1854–1964)
1919 Secretary of State for Air (1919–1964)
1936 Minister for Co-ordination of Defence (1936–1940)
1940 Minister of Defence (1940–1964)
1964 Secretary of State for Defence (1964–present)

Secretaries of State for Defence (1964–present)Edit

Secretary of State for Defence
Portrait Name
(birth–death)
Term of office Length of term Party Ministry
  The Right Honourable
Peter Thorneycroft
MP for Monmouth
(1909–1994)
[7]
1 April 1964 16 October 1964 6 months and 15 days
(was Minister of Defence immediately before)
Conservative Douglas-Home
  The Right Honourable
Denis Healey
MBE
MP for Leeds East
(1917–2015)
[8]
16 October 1964 19 June 1970 5 years, 8 months and 3 days Labour Wilson
(I & II)
  The Right Honourable
Peter Carrington
6th Baron Carrington

KCMG MC PC DL
(1919–2018)
20 June 1970 8 January 1974 3 years, 6 months and 19 days Conservative Heath
The Right Honourable
Ian Gilmour
MP for Central Norfolk
(1926–2007)
[9]
8 January 1974 4 March 1974 1 month and 24 days Conservative
The Right Honourable
Roy Mason
MP for Barnsley
(1924–2015)
[10]
5 March 1974 9 September 1976 2 years, 6 months and 4 days Labour Wilson
(III & IV)
  The Right Honourable
Fred Mulley
MP for Sheffield Park
(1918–1995)
[11]
10 September 1976 4 May 1979 2 years, 7 months and 24 days Labour Callaghan
  The Right Honourable
Francis Pym
MC
MP for Cambridgeshire
(1922–2008)
[12]
5 May 1979 4 January 1981 1 year, 7 months and 30 days Conservative Thatcher I
  The Right Honourable
John Nott

MP for St Ives
(born 1932)
[13]
5 January 1981 5 January 1983 2 years Conservative
  The Right Honourable
Michael Heseltine

MP for Henley
(born 1933)
[14]
6 January 1983 8 January 1986 3 years and 2 days Conservative Thatcher II
  The Right Honourable
George Younger
TD

MP for Ayr
(1931–2003)
[15][16]
9 January 1986 23 July 1989 3 years, 6 months and 14 days Conservative
Thatcher III
  The Right Honourable
Tom King

MP for Bridgwater
(born 1933)
[17]
28 July 1989 9 April 1992 2 years, 8 months and 12 days Conservative
Major I
  The Right Honourable
Malcolm Rifkind
QC

MP for Edinburgh Pentlands
(born 1946)
[18]
10 April 1992 4 July 1995 3 years, 2 months and 24 days Conservative Major II
  The Right Honourable
Michael Portillo

MP for Enfield Southgate
(born 1953)
[19]
5 July 1995 2 May 1997 1 year, 9 months and 27 days Conservative
  The Right Honourable
George Robertson

MP for Hamilton South
(born 1946)
[20]
3 May 1997 11 October 1999 2 years, 5 months and 8 days Labour Blair I
  The Right Honourable
Geoff Hoon

MP for Ashfield
(born 1953)
[21]
11 October 1999 6 May 2005 5 years, 6 months and 25 days Labour
Blair II
  The Right Honourable
John Reid

MP for Airdrie and Shotts
(born 1947)
[22]
6 May 2005 5 May 2006 11 months and 29 days Labour Blair III
  The Right Honourable
Des Browne

MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun
(born 1952)
[23]
5 May 2006 3 October 2008 2 years, 4 months and 28 days Labour
Brown
  The Right Honourable
John Hutton

MP for Barrow and Furness
(born 1955)
[24]
3 October 2008 5 June 2009 8 months and 2 days Labour
  The Right Honourable
Bob Ainsworth

MP for Coventry North East
(born 1952)
[25]
5 June 2009 11 May 2010 11 months and 6 days Labour
  The Right Honourable
Liam Fox

MP for North Somerset
(born 1961)
[26][27]
12 May 2010 14 October 2011 1 year, 5 months and 3 days Conservative Cameron–Clegg
(Con.L.D.)
  The Right Honourable
Philip Hammond

MP for Runnymede and Weybridge
(born 1955)
[28][29]
14 October 2011 15 July 2014 2 years, 9 months and 1 day Conservative
  The Right Honourable
Sir Michael Fallon
KCB

MP for Sevenoaks
(born 1952)
[30][31]
15 July 2014 1 November 2017 3 years, 3 months and 17 days Conservative
Cameron II
May I
May II
  The Right Honourable
Gavin Williamson
CBE

MP for South Staffordshire
(born 1976)
[32][33]
2 November 2017 1 May 2019 1 year, 5 months and 29 days Conservative
  The Right Honourable
Penny Mordaunt

MP for Portsmouth North
(born 1973)
[34][35]
1 May 2019 24 July 2019 2 months and 23 days Conservative
  The Right Honourable
Ben Wallace

MP for Wyre and Preston North
(born 1970)
[36][5]
24 July 2019 Incumbent 2 years, 4 months and 6 days* Conservative Johnson I
Johnson II

* Incumbent's length of term last updated: 30 November 2021.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Secretary of State for Defence". gov.uk. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  2. ^ "Her Majesty's Government: The Cabinet". parliament.uk. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  3. ^ "BBC Rewind: Michael Portillo loses Enfield Southgate". BBC News. 17 November 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2021. One of the most high-profile victims of the Labour party landslide in the 1997 general election was John Major's Defence Secretary, Michael Portillo.
  4. ^ "Penny Mordaunt - the UK's first female defence secretary". BBC News. 2 May 2019. Retrieved 10 June 2021. Penny Mordaunt has become the UK's first female defence secretary after Gavin Williamson was sacked.
  5. ^ a b "Ben Wallace Named New Defence Secretary". Forces Network. 24 July 2019. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  6. ^ "Secretary of State for Defence - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk.
  7. ^ "Mr Peter Thorneycroft". Hansard 1803–2005. UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  8. ^ "Lord Healey". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  9. ^ "Lord Gilmour of Craigmillar". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Lord Mason of Barnsley". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Lord Mulley". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  12. ^ "Lord Pym". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  13. ^ "Rt Hon Sir John Nott". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  14. ^ "Lord Heseltine". UK Parliament. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  15. ^ "Rt Hon Sir George Younger". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  16. ^ George Jones (27 January 2003). "Thatcher's ally George Younger dies at 71". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  17. ^ "Lord King of Bridgwater". UK Parliament. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  18. ^ "Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Rifkind QC". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  19. ^ "Rt Hon Michael Portillo". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  20. ^ "Lord Robertson of Port Ellen". UK Parliament. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  21. ^ "Mr Geoffrey Hoon". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  22. ^ "Lord Reid of Cardowan". UK Parliament. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  23. ^ "Lord Browne of Ladyton". UK Parliament. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  24. ^ "Lord Hutton of Furness". UK Parliament. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  25. ^ "Rt Hon Bob Ainsworth". UK Parliament. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  26. ^ "Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  27. ^ "Who's who in the coalition cabinet". The Guardian. 13 May 2010. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  28. ^ "Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  29. ^ "Liam Fox quits as defence secretary". BBC News. 14 October 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  30. ^ "Rt Hon Sir Michael Fallon MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  31. ^ "Reshuffle at-a-glance: In, out and moved about". BBC News. 15 July 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  32. ^ "Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  33. ^ "Gavin Williamson replaces Michael Fallon as defence secretary". BBC News. 2 November 2017. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  34. ^ "Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  35. ^ "Gavin Williamson sacked over Huawei leak". 1 May 2019. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  36. ^ "Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 25 July 2021.

External linksEdit