Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State

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A Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (also called a Parliamentary Secretary) is the lowest of three tiers of government minister in the UK government, immediately junior to a Minister of State, which is itself junior to a Secretary of State. [1] A similar position exists in New Zealand.


The Ministerial and Other Salaries Act 1975 provides that at any one time there can be no more than 83 paid ministers (not counting the Lord Chancellor, up to 3 law officers and up to 22 whips). Of these, no more than 50 ministers can be paid the salary of a minister senior to a Parliamentary Secretary. Thus if 50 senior ministers are appointed, the maximum number of paid Parliamentary Secretaries is 33. [2] [3]

The limit on the number of unpaid Parliamentary Secretaries is given by the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 ensuring that no more than 95 government ministers of any kind can sit in the House of Commons at any one time; there is no upper bound to the number of unpaid ministers sitting in the House of Lords. [3] [4] [5]

The position should neither be confused with the Permanent Secretary which is the most senior civil servant in a government department (also known as the Permanent Under-Secretary of State), nor with a Parliamentary Private Secretary (an MP serving as an assistant to a minister entitled to directly relevant expenses but no further pay). [1] [6]

Of his tenure as an under-secretary in Macmillan's 1957–1963 Conservative government from the Lords, the Duke of Devonshire noted: "No one who hasn't been a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State has any conception of how unimportant a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State is". [7]

Current Parliamentary Under Secretaries of State

The current Parliamentary Under Secretaries of State are: [8]

New Zealand Government

A similar position titled Parliamentary Under-Secretary is established by the Constitution Act 1986. [9] Unlike ministers in the New Zealand Government, parliamentary under-secretaries are not members of the Executive Council.

Former positions

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  1. 1 2 Cabinet Office (October 2011). "Cabinet Manual" (PDF) (1st ed.). HM Government . Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  2. "Ministerial and Other Salaries Act 1975, c.27" . Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  3. 1 2 Maer, Lucinda; Kelly, Richard (10 August 2017). "Limitations on the number of Ministers" (PDF). Briefing Paper (03378). House of Commons Library. Retrieved 19 January 2018.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. "House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975, c.24" . Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  5. Maer, Lucinda (4 September 2017). "Ministers in the House of Lords" (PDF). Briefing Paper (05226). House of Commons Library. Retrieved 19 January 2018.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. "Parliamentary Private Secretaries - Glossary page". UK Parliament website. Parliament of the United Kingdom . Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  7. Philip Ziegler, ‘Cavendish, Andrew Robert Buxton, eleventh duke of Devonshire (1920–2004)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Jan 2008
  8. "Ministers - GOV.UK". Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  9. Constitution Act 1986, 13 December 1986, pp. 6–7, retrieved 3 November 2020