Department for Transport

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Department for Transport
Department for Transport.svg
Department overview
Formed29 May 2002;20 years ago (2002-05-29)
Jurisdiction Government of the United Kingdom
HeadquartersGreat Minster House, Horseferry Road, London
Annual budget£2.9 billion; 2019–20 [1]
Minister responsible
Department executive
Child agencies
Website OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

The Department for Transport (DfT) is a department of His Majesty's Government responsible for the English transport network and a limited number of transport matters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that have not been devolved. The department is run by the Secretary of State for Transport, currently (since 25 October 2022) Mark Harper.


The expenditure, administration and policy of the Department for Transport are scrutinised by the Transport Committee. [2]


The Ministry of Transport was established by the Ministry of Transport Act 1919 which provided for the transfer to the new ministry of powers and duties of any government department in respect of railways, light railways, tramways, canals and inland waterways, roads, bridges and ferries, and vehicles and traffic thereon, harbours, docks and piers.

In September 1919, all the powers of the Road Board, the Ministry of Health, and the Board of Trade in respect of transport, were transferred to the new ministry. Initially, the department was organised to carry out supervisory, development and executive functions, but the end of railway and canal control by 1921, and the settlement of financial agreements relating to the wartime operations of the railways reduced its role. In 1923, the department was reorganised into three major sections: Secretarial, Finance and Roads.

The ministry's functions were exercised initially throughout the United Kingdom. An Irish Branch was established in 1920, but then was taken over by the government of the Irish Free State on the transfer of functions in 1922.

The department took over transport functions of Scottish departments in the same year, though certain functions relating to local government, loan sanction, byelaws and housing were excepted. In May 1937, power to make provisional orders for harbour, pier and ferry works was transferred to the Secretary of State for Scotland.

The growth of road transport increased the responsibilities of the Ministry, and in the 1930s, and especially with defence preparations preceding the outbreak of war, government responsibilities for all means of transport increased significantly.

Government control of transport and diverse associated matters has been reorganised a number of times in modern history, being the responsibility of:

The name "Ministry of Transport" lives on in the annual MOT test, a test of vehicle safety, roadworthiness, and exhaust emissions, which most vehicles used on public roads in the UK are required to pass annually once they reach three years old (four years for vehicles in Northern Ireland).

The Flag of the old Ministry of Transport. MoT-Flag.svg
The Flag of the old Ministry of Transport.


The Department for Transport has six strategic objectives: [3]

The department "creates the strategic framework" for transport services, which are delivered through a wide range of public and private sector bodies including its own executive agencies. [4]


The DfT Ministers are as follows: [5]

The Rt Hon. Mark Harper MP Secretary of State Overall responsibility for the department; oversight of all areas
The Rt Hon. Jesse Norman MP Minister of State for Decarbonisation and TechnologyTransport decarbonisation; air quality; technology, for example autonomous vehicles, drones, e-scooters; secondary legislation, including retained EU law; space; active travel (cycling and walking); skills, science and research; corporate, including public appointments; accessibility
Huw Merriman MP Minister of State for Rail and HS2Rail transformation and reform; rail infrastructure; High Speed 2 (HS2); Integrated Rail Plan; Northern Powerhouse Rail; international rail; rail passenger services and freight; accessibility
The Rt Hon. Baroness Vere of Norbiton Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Aviation, Maritime and SecurityAll Lords' business; aviation; maritime; security (including Ukraine); civil contingencies; Kent; international; women's safety; accessibility
Richard Holden MPParliamentary Under Secretary of State for Roads and Local TransportRoads and motoring, including DVLA, DVSA, VCA; regions and devolution; local transport, including buses, taxis, light rail; union connectivity; haulage; Future of Freight; London (including Crossrail, Transport for London); accessibility (cross-cutting responsibility)

The Permanent Secretary is Bernadette Kelly.

2017 judicial review

Following a series of strikes, poor performance, concerns over access for the disabled and commuter protests relating to Govia Thameslink Railway a group of commuters crowdfunded £26,000 to initiate a judicial review into the Department for Transport's management and failure to penalise Govia or remove the management contract. The oral hearing to determine if commuters have standing to bring a judicial review was listed for 29 June 2017 at the Royal Courts of Justice. [6] [7]

The attempted judicial review was not allowed to proceed, and the commuters who brought it had to pay £17,000 in costs to the Department for Transport. [8] [9]

Executive agencies

Non-departmental public bodies

The DfT sponsors the following public bodies:

Transport publications and data

DfT publications include the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges and Transport Analysis Guidance (TAG, formerly WebTAG). [10]

The DfT maintains datasets including the National Trip End Model and traffic counts on major roads.


The devolution of transport policy varies around the UK; most aspects in Great Britain are decided at Westminster. Key reserved transport matters (i.e., not devolved) are as follows:

Scotland Reserved matters: [11]

Scotland's comparability factor (the proportion of spending in this area devolved to the Scottish Government) was 91.7% for 2021/22. [12]

Northern Ireland Reserved matters: [13]

The department's devolved counterparts in Northern Ireland are:

Northern Ireland's comparability factor (the proportion of spending in this area devolved to the Northern Ireland Executive) was 95.4% for 2021/22. [12]

Wales Reserved matters: [16]

The department's devolved counterpart in Wales is the Minister for Climate Change. [17]

Wales' comparability factor (the proportion of spending in this area devolved to the Welsh Government) was 36.6% for 2021/22. [12] This represents a significant reduction (e.g. it was 80.9% in 2015) due to the controversial classification of HS2 as an 'England and Wales' project. [18]

See also

Related Research Articles

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  1. Budget 2018 (PDF). London: HM Treasury. 2018. p. 24. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  2. "Role - Transport Committee". Retrieved 5 March 2022. The Transport Committee is charged by the House of Commons with scrutiny of the Department for Transport. Its formal remit is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Department for Transport and its associated public bodies.
  3. "Department for Transport Outcome Delivery Plan". GOV.UK.
  4. "Department for Transport". GOV.UK.
  5. "Our ministers". GOV.UK. Retrieved 3 November 2022.
  6. "Commuter group to meet Department for Transport in court over Southern crisis". 19 June 2017. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  7. "Judicial Review of the Department for Transport over Southern Rail". CrowdJustice. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  8. "New Judicial Review case starts today  led by passenger group Bring Back British Rail" (Press release). 17 April 2018. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  9. "Exclusive: Full report of ABC's legal victory, which forces Chris Grayling to decide Southern Rail breaches" (Press release). 5 July 2017. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  10. TAG
  11. "Scotland Act 1998".
  12. 1 2 3 "The Barnett Formula, House of Commons Library brief" (PDF).
  13. "Northern Ireland Act 1998".
  14. DRD: About The Department
  15. DoE: About Us Archived 8 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  16. Government of Wales Act 2006, Schedule 7A, Part II
  17. "Welsh Government profile of Julie James MS, Minister for Climate Change". Retrieved 29 April 2022.
  18. "HS2: Wales should get £5bn from rail scheme spending, says minister". BBC News. 12 February 2020.

Coordinates: 51°29′41″N0°07′45″W / 51.4946°N 0.1293°W / 51.4946; -0.1293