First Secretary of State

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United Kingdom
First Secretary of State
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Official portrait of Damian Green crop 2.jpg
Damian Green

since 11 June 2017
Government of the United Kingdom
Office of the Prime Minister
Cabinet Office
Style The Right Honourable
First Secretary of State
Member of
Reports to The Prime Minister
Residence None, may use Grace and favour residences
Seat Westminster, London
Nominator The Prime Minister
Appointer The British Monarch
on the advice of the Prime Minister
Term length No fixed term
Inaugural holder Rab Butler
Formation 13 July 1962
Salary £142,467 (annual, including £74,962 MP's salary) [1]
Website Official website
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First Secretary of State is an honorific title occasionally used within the Government of the United Kingdom. The title, which implies seniority over all other Secretaries of State,[2] has no specific powers or authority attached to it beyond that of any other Secretary of State. When no Deputy Prime Minister is in office, the post is de facto second in Government.

The title is not always in use, so there have sometimes been extended gaps between successive holders of the title, the most lengthy of which being the 25 years between 1970 and 1995. The current holder is Damian Green.

Current holder[edit]

The current First Secretary of State is Damian Green, who was nominated to the post by Prime Minister Theresa May immediately following the 2017 General Election.


The role has had varying responsibilities over time, the current responsibilities are:[3]

Relationship with Deputy Prime Minister[edit]

The post of Deputy Prime Minister had been created in 1942 for Clement Attlee, the leader of the Labour Party in Winston Churchill's wartime coalition ministry. The post indicated that the holder ranked second in government, after the Prime Minister, but did not confer cabinet rank and did not pay a salary. For this reason, the Deputy Prime Minister concurrently held other offices, entitling him to a place in cabinet.

The title First Secretary of State indicated the holder's rank as a Secretary of State, with a place in cabinet. The title was created in 1962 for Deputy Prime Minister R. A. Butler, granting him a place in cabinet despite not holding a specific cabinet portfolio. 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. 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 one government: in David Cameron's coalition ministry of 2010–15, Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, was appointed Deputy Prime Minister, while former Conservative leader William Hague was appointed First Secretary of State.

List of First Secretaries of State[edit]

  Conservative       Labour
Portrait Name
Term of office Other ministerial offices Party Ministry Monarch


Rab Butler.png The Right Honourable
R. A. Butler
MP for Saffron Walden
13 July
18 October
Conservative Macmillan II Elizabeth II

Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.svg


Office not in use 1963 1964
George Brown, 1967.jpg The Right Honourable
George Brown

MP for Belper
16 October
11 August
Labour Wilson
(I & II)
Michael Stewart (1966).jpg The Right Honourable
Michael Stewart

MP for Fulham
11 August
6 April
Mme Barbara Castle, Ministre britannique du développement outre-mer.jpg The Right Honourable
Barbara Castle

MP for Blackburn
6 April
19 June
Office not in use 1970 1995
Lord Heseltine, Deputy Prime Minister, UK (1995-97) (10559130986).jpg The Right Honourable
Michael Heseltine

MP for Henley
(born 1933)
20 July
2 May
Conservative Major II
Office not in use 1997 2001
John Prescott on his last day as Deputy Prime Minister, June 2007.jpg The Right Honourable
John Prescott

MP for Hull East
(born 1938)
8 June
27 June
Labour Blair
(II & III)
Office not in use 2007 2009
Peter Mandelson at Politics of Climate Change 3.jpg The Right Honourable
Peter Mandelson
Baron Mandelson

(born 1953)
5 June
11 May
Labour Brown
William Hague, Foreign Sec (crop).jpg The Right Honourable
William Hague

MP for Richmond (Yorks)
(born 1961)
12 May
8 May
Conservative Cameron–Clegg
George osborne hi.jpg The Right Honourable
George Osborne

MP for Tatton
(born 1971)
8 May
13 July
Conservative Cameron II
Office not in use 2016 2017
Official portrait of Damian Green crop 2.jpg The Right Honourable
Damian Green

MP for Ashford
(born 1956)
11 June
Incumbent Conservative May II

See also[edit]