First Secretary of State

First Secretary of State is a title sometimes given to a cabinet minister in the Government of the United Kingdom. The title implies seniority over all other Secretaries of State,[2] but has no specific powers or authority attached to it, including no automatic sucession to the Prime Minister. The title is not always in use, so there have sometimes been extended gaps between successive holders of the title.

First Secretary of State
Dominic Raab

since 24 July 2019
Government of the United Kingdom
Office of the Prime Minister
StyleThe Right Honourable
First Secretary of State (informal)
Member of
Reports toThe Prime Minister
ResidenceNone, may use Grace and favour residences
SeatWestminster, London
NominatorThe Prime Minister
AppointerThe British Monarch
on the advice of the Prime Minister
Term lengthNo fixed term
Inaugural holderRab Butler
Formation13 July 1962
Salary£153,022 (annual, including £81,932 MP's salary)[1]
WebsiteOfficial website

The title temporarily enjoyed some greater constitutional footing between when it was incorporated as a corporate sole in 2002[3] and having all of its remaining functions transferred in 2008.[4] During most of this time, the title was held by John Prescott.

Boris Johnson appointed the incumbent Dominic Raab to the title on 24 July 2019.[5] When Johnson was moved to ICU on the 6 April 2020, Raab was asked to " deputise for him where necessary."[6]


The role has had varying responsibilities over time. The most recent responsibilities are:[7][better source needed]

Relationship with the title of Deputy Prime Minister

The title of Deputy Prime Minister indicates that the holder ranks de facto second in government, after the Prime Minister, but does not confer cabinet rank.[citation needed] As it is not mentioned in the UK's uncodified constitution, it also does not come with any executive powers or automatically pay a salary, while the title of Secretary of State does pay a salary.[8]

The title of First Secretary of State was created in 1962 for Deputy Prime Minister R. A. Butler, granting him a place in cabinet despite not holding a specific cabinet portfolio.[citation needed] Michael Heseltine and John Prescott were also relieved of their cabinet portfolios when serving as Deputy Prime Minister and were therefore additionally appointed First Secretary of State.[citation needed]

In 1964, Prime Minister Harold Wilson established the alternative usage, appointing a First Secretary of State among the cabinet without appointing a Deputy Prime Minister.

The two titles have only existed concurrently with different holders in David Cameron's coalition government, wherein Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg was appointed Deputy Prime Minister, while William Hague was appointed First Secretary of State.

List of First Secretaries of State

First Secretary of State
Portrait Name
Term of office Other ministerial offices Party Ministry Ref.
R. A. Butler[9]
MP for Saffron Walden
13 July
18 October
Conservative Macmillan II [10]
Title not in use 1963–1964
George Brown
MP for Belper
16 October
11 August
Labour Wilson
(I & II)
Michael Stewart
MP for Fulham
11 August
6 April
Labour [10]
Barbara Castle
MP for Blackburn
6 April
19 June
Labour [10]
Title not in use 1970–1995
Michael Heseltine
MP for Henley
(born 1933)
20 July
2 May
Conservative Major II [11]
Title not in use 1997–2001
John Prescott
MP for Kingston upon Hull East
(born 1938)
8 June
27 June
Labour Blair
(II & III)
Title not in use 2007–2009
Peter Mandelson
Baron Mandelson

(born 1953)
5 June
11 May
Labour Brown
William Hague
MP for Richmond (Yorks)
(born 1961)
12 May
8 May
Conservative Cameron–Clegg
George Osborne
MP for Tatton
(born 1971)
8 May
13 July
Conservative Cameron II [14]
Title not in use 2016–2017
Damian Green
MP for Ashford
(born 1956)
11 June
20 December
Conservative May II [15][16]
Title not in use 2017–2019
Dominic Raab
MP for Esher and Walton
(born 1974)
24 July
Incumbent Conservative Johnson
(I & II)


Dominic RaabDamian GreenGeorge OsborneWilliam HaguePeter MandelsonJohn PrescottMichael HeseltineBarbara CastleMichael StewartGeorge BrownRab Butler

See also


  1. Served as Secretary of State for Economic Affairs until August 1967
  2. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from March 1968
  3. Deputy Prime Minister from May 1997
  4. Served as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs until July 2014.
  5. Served as Leader of the House of Commons from July 2014


  2. Nicholas Watt (8 May 2015). "George Osborne made first secretary of state in cabinet reshuffle". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  3. The Transfer of Functions (Transport, Local Government and the Regions) Order 2002 Article 3(1).
  4. The Transfer of Functions (Miscellaneous) Order 2008 Article 7.
  5. "Dominic Raab appointed UK foreign secretary, first secretary of state: statement". Reuters. London. 25 July 2019. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  6. "Statement from Downing Street: 6 April 2020". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2020-08-12.
  7. "First Secretary of State - GOV.UK". Retrieved 2020-04-07.
  8. Ministerial and other Salaries Act 1975 Sch 1.
  9. Howard, Anthony (February 7, 2013). "RAB: The Life of R.A. Butler". A&C Black.
  10. David Butler and Gareth Butler, British Political Facts 1900–1994 (7th edn, Macmillan 1994) 62.
  11. "Lord Heseltine". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  12. "Lord Prescott". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  13. "Lord Hague of Richmond". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  14. "Rt Hon George Osborne". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  15. "Rt Hon Damian Green MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  16. Stewart, Heather. "Damian Green sacked as first secretary of state after porn allegations". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 December 2017.