Secretary of State for Wales

The secretary of state for Wales (Welsh: ysgrifennydd gwladol Cymru), also referred to as the Welsh 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.

United Kingdom
Secretary of State for Wales
Jo Stevens
since 5 July 2024
Office of the Secretary of State for Wales
StyleWelsh Secretary
The Right Honourable
(within the UK and Commonwealth)
TypeMinister of the Crown
StatusSecretary of State
Member of
Reports toThe Prime Minister
NominatorThe Prime Minister
AppointerThe Monarch
(on the advice of the Prime Minister)
Term lengthAt His Majesty's pleasure
  • 28 October 1951
    (as Minister of Welsh Affairs)
  • 18 October 1964:
    (as Secretary of State for Wales)
First holderDavid Maxwell Fyfe
(as Minister of Welsh Affairs)
Salary£159,038 per annum (2022)[1]
(including £86,584 MP salary)[2]
WebsiteOfficial website

The officeholder works alongside the other Wales Office ministers. The corresponding shadow minister is the shadow secretary of state for Wales. The position is currently held by Jo Stevens having been appointed by Keir Starmer in July 2024.



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]

In June 2024, Plaid Cymru, the Welsh nationalist party, called for the position's abolishment describing it as "outdated", that it "entrench[es]" a power imbalance, and its powers should be devolved. The party's representatives accused the shadow Labour holder, Jo Stevens, of having a "contemptuous attitude towards devolution" based on Stevens' comments relating to High Speed 2 and justice and policing. The Conservative incumbent David TC Davies expressed his surprise, stating that the "so-called 'party of Wales' is now wanting to silence Wales' voice [in the cabinet]".[7] In Plaid Cymru's motion on 26 June, calling for the post's abolishment, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, supported the motion after being confused it was a Tory amendment being voted on.[8]

Ministers and secretaries of state


Colour key
  Conservative   National Liberal   Labour

Ministers of Welsh Affairs (1951–1964)

Secretary of State Term of office Political party Cabinet Prime Minister
  David Maxwell Fyfe
MP for Liverpool West Derby
(also Home Secretary)
28 October 1951 18 October 1954 Conservative Churchill III Winston Churchill
  Gwilym Lloyd George
MP for Newcastle North
(also Home Secretary)
18 October 1954 13 January 1957 Liberal & Conservative Churchill III
Eden Anthony Eden
  Henry Brooke
MP for Hampstead
(also Min. of Housing & Local Govt.)
13 January 1957 9 October 1961 Conservative Macmillan I Harold Macmillan
Macmillan II
  Charles Hill
MP for Luton
(also Min. of Housing & Local Govt.)
9 October 1961 13 July 1962 National Liberal & Conservative Macmillan II
  Keith Joseph
MP for Leeds North East
(also Min. of Housing & Local Govt.)
13 July 1962 16 October 1964 Conservative Macmillan II
Douglas-Home Alec Douglas-Home

Secretaries of State for Wales (1964–present)

Secretary of State Term of office Political party Cabinet Prime Minister
  Jim Griffiths
MP for Llanelli
18 October 1964 5 April 1966 Labour Wilson I Harold Wilson
  Cledwyn Hughes
MP for Anglesey
5 April 1966 5 April 1968 Labour Wilson II
  George Thomas
MP for Cardiff West
5 April 1968 20 June 1970 Labour Wilson II
  Peter Thomas
MP for Hendon South
20 June 1970 5 March 1974 Conservative Heath Edward Heath
  John Morris
MP for Aberavon
5 March 1974 4 May 1979 Labour Wilson III Harold Wilson
Callaghan James Callaghan
  Nicholas Edwards
MP for Pembrokeshire
4 May 1979 13 June 1987 Conservative Thatcher I Margaret Thatcher
Thatcher II
  Peter Walker
MP for Worcester
13 June 1987 4 May 1990 Conservative Thatcher III
  David Hunt
MP for Wirral West
4 May 1990 27 May 1993 Conservative Major I John Major
Major II
  John Redwood
MP for Wokingham
27 May 1993 26 June 1995[fn 1] Conservative Major II
  David Hunt
MP for Wirral West
26 June 1995 5 July 1995 Conservative Major II
  William Hague
MP for Richmond (Yorks)
5 July 1995 2 May 1997 Conservative Major II
  Ron Davies
MP for Caerphilly
2 May 1997 27 October 1998[fn 2] Labour Blair I Tony Blair
  Alun Michael
MP for Cardiff South and Penarth
27 October 1998 28 July 1999[fn 3] Labour Blair I
  Paul Murphy
MP for Torfaen
28 July 1999 24 October 2002 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)
24 October 2002 24 January 2008 Labour Blair II
Blair III
Brown Gordon Brown
  Paul Murphy
MP for Torfaen
24 January 2008 5 June 2009 Labour Brown
  Peter Hain
MP for Neath
5 June 2009 11 May 2010 Labour Brown
  Cheryl Gillan
MP for Chesham and Amersham
11 May 2010 4 September 2012 Conservative Coalition David Cameron
  David Jones
MP for Clwyd West
4 September 2012 14 July 2014 Conservative Coalition
  Stephen Crabb
MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire
15 July 2014 19 March 2016 Conservative Coalition
Cameron II
  Alun Cairns
MP for Vale of Glamorgan
19 March 2016 6 November 2019 Conservative Cameron II
May I Theresa May
May II
Johnson I Boris Johnson
  Simon Hart
MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire
16 December 2019[9] 6 July 2022 Conservative Johnson I
Johnson II
  Robert Buckland
MP for South Swindon
7 July 2022 25 October 2022 Conservative Johnson II
Truss Liz Truss
  David TC Davies
MP for Monmouth
25 October 2022 5 July 2024 Conservative Sunak Rishi Sunak
  Jo Stevens
MP for Cardiff East
5 July 2024 Incumbent Labour Starmer Keir Starmer


Jo StevensDavid TC DaviesRobert BucklandSimon HartAlun CairnsStephen CrabbDavid Jones (Clwyd West MP)Cheryl GillanPeter HainPaul Murphy, Baron Murphy of TorfaenAlun MichaelRon Davies (Welsh politician)William HagueJohn RedwoodDavid Hunt, Baron Hunt of WirralPeter Walker, Baron Walker of WorcesterNicholas EdwardsJohn Morris, Baron Morris of AberavonPeter Thomas, Baron Thomas of GwydirGeorge Thomas, 1st Viscount TonypandyCledwyn HughesJim GriffithsKeith JosephCharles Hill, Baron Hill of LutonHenry Brooke, Baron Brooke of CumnorGwilym Lloyd GeorgeDavid Maxwell Fyfe


  1. ^ Redwood resigned to stand in the 1995 Conservative leadership election. During the election, Hunt acted as Secretary of State.
  2. ^ Resigned following what he described as 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. ^ "Salaries of Members of His Majesty's Government – Financial Year 2022–23" (PDF). 15 December 2022.
  2. ^ "Pay and expenses for MPs". Retrieved 15 December 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. ^ "Times letters: Mark Sedwill's call for a cull of the cabinet". The Times. 30 July 2020. ISSN 0140-0460.
  6. ^ "Rodney Brazier: Why is Her Majesty's Government so big?". UK Constitutional Law Association. 7 September 2020. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  7. ^ Price, Emily (25 June 2024). "Plaid Cymru calls for next UK Govt to axe Secretary of State for Wales role". Nation.Cymru. Retrieved 28 June 2024.
  8. ^ Price, Emily (27 June 2024). "Andrew RT Davies votes to abolish Secretary of State role". Nation.Cymru. Retrieved 28 June 2024.
  9. ^ "Cabinet reshuffle: Simon Hart appointed new Welsh secretary". BBC News. 16 December 2019. Retrieved 17 December 2019.