Secretary of State for Defence

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Secretary of State for Defence
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Flag of the British Secretary of State for Defence.svg
Official portrait of Penny Mordaunt.jpg
Incumbent
Penny Mordaunt

since 1 May 2019
Ministry of Defence
Style Defence Secretary
(informal)
The Right Honourable
(within the UK and the Commonwealth)
Member of
Reports to Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Seat Westminster, London
AppointerThe Monarch
on advice of the Prime Minister
Term length No fixed term
Formation1 April 1964
First holder Peter Thorneycroft
Deputy Minister of State for the Armed Forces
Website www.gov.uk
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
This article is part of a series on the
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Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Defence (Defence Secretary) is a senior official within Her Majesty's Government and head of the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Government of the United Kingdom central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The Government of the United Kingdom, formally referred to as Her Majesty's Government, is the central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is also commonly referred to as simply the UK Government or the British Government.

Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom) United Kingdom government department responsible for implementing the defence policy

The Ministry of Defence is the British government department responsible for implementing the defence policy set by Her Majesty's Government and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces.

Contents

The office is a British Cabinet–level position, and is currently held by Penny Mordaunt since May 2019, following the dismissal of Gavin Williamson by Prime Minister Theresa May.

Cabinet of the United Kingdom Decision-making body of the UK government

The Cabinet of the United Kingdom is the collective decision-making body of Her Majesty's Government of the United Kingdom, composed of the Prime Minister and 21 cabinet ministers, the most senior of the government ministers.

Penny Mordaunt British politician

Penelope Mary Mordaunt is a British Conservative politician serving as Secretary of State for Defence since 2019, and has served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Portsmouth North since 2010. Mordaunt served as Secretary of State for International Development from 2017 to 2019. A member of the House of Commons, Mordaunt previously worked in the business and communications industry.

Gavin Williamson British Conservative politician

Gavin Alexander Williamson is a British Conservative politician who served as Secretary of State for Defence from 2017 to 2019, and has served as Member of Parliament (MP) for South Staffordshire since 2010.

The post was created in 1964 as successor to the posts of Minister for Coordination of Defence (1936–1940) and Minister of Defence (1940–1964). It replaced the positions of First Lord of the Admiralty, Secretary of State for War, and Secretary of State for Air, as the Admiralty, War Office and Air Ministry were merged into the Ministry of Defence (the Secretary of State for War had already ceased to be a cabinet position in 1946, with the creation of the cabinet-level Minister of Defence).

Ministry of Defence (1947–64) 1947–1964 United Kingdom government ministry responsible for coordinating national defence

The Ministry of Defence was a department of the British Government responsible for defence and the British Armed Forces.

First Lord of the Admiralty political head of the Royal Navy

The First Lord of the Admiralty, or formally the Office of the First Lord of the Admiralty, was the political head of the Royal Navy who was the government's senior adviser on all naval affairs and responsible for the direction and control of Admiralty Department as well as general administration of the Naval Service of the United Kingdom, that encompassed the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines and other services. It was one of the earliest known permanent government posts. Apart from being the political head of the Royal Navy the post holder simultaneously held the title of the President of the Board of Commissioners for Exercising the Office of Lord High Admiral. The office of First Lord of the Admiralty existed from 1628 until it was abolished when the Admiralty, Air Ministry, Ministry of Defence and War Office were all merged to form the new Ministry of Defence in 1964.

Secretary of State for War British cabinet-level position

The position of Secretary of State for War, commonly called War Secretary, was a British cabinet-level position which existed from 1794 to 1801 and from 1854 to 1964. The Secretary of State for War headed the War Office and was assisted by a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for War, a Parliamentary Private Secretary who was also a Member of Parliament, and a Military Secretary, who was a general.

List of office holders

Ministers for Co-ordination of Defence (1936–1940)

The position of Minister for Co-ordination of Defence was a British Cabinet-level position established in 1936 to oversee and co-ordinate the rearmament of Britain's defences.

Minister for Co-ordination of Defence

The position of Minister for Coordination of Defence was a British Cabinet-level position established in 1936 to oversee and co-ordinate the rearmament of Britain's defences.

The position was established by the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin in response to criticism that Britain's armed forces were understrength compared to those of Nazi Germany. This campaign had been led by Winston Churchill and many expected him to be appointed as the new minister, though nearly every other senior figure in the National Government was also speculated upon by politicians and commentators. Despite this, Baldwin's choice of the Attorney General Sir Thomas Inskip provoked widespread astonishment. A famous comment made in response to Inskip's appointment was "This is the most cynical appointment since Caligula made his horse a consul". [1] The appointment is now regarded as a sign of caution by Baldwin who did not wish to appoint someone like Churchill who would have been interpreted by foreign powers as a sign of the United Kingdom preparing for war, as well as a desire to avoid taking on board a controversial and radical minister.

Stanley Baldwin Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, was a British Conservative Party statesman who dominated the government of the United Kingdom between the world wars, serving as Prime Minister on three occasions.

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

Winston Churchill 20th-century Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was a British politician, army officer, and writer. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, when he led Britain to victory in the Second World War, and again from 1951 to 1955. Churchill represented five constituencies during his career as a Member of Parliament (MP). Ideologically an economic liberal and imperialist, for most of his career he was a member of the Conservative Party, which he led from 1940 to 1955, but from 1904 to 1924 was instead a member of the Liberal Party.

In 1939 Inskip was succeeded by First Sea Lord Lord Chatfield. When the Second World War broke out, the new Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain formed a small War Cabinet and it was expected that Chatfield would serve as a spokesperson for the three service ministers, the Secretary of State for War, the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Secretary of State for Air; however, political considerations resulted in all three posts being included in the Cabinet, and Chatfield's role proved increasingly redundant. In April 1940 the position was formally wound up and the functions transferred to other Ministers.

First Sea Lord professional head of the United Kingdoms Royal Navy and the whole Naval Service

The First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff (1SL/CNS) is the professional head of the United Kingdom's Royal Navy and the whole Naval Service. Originally the title was the Senior Naval Lord to the Board of Admiralty when the post was created in 1689. The office holder was then re-styled First Naval Lord from 1771. The concept of a professional "First Naval Lord" was introduced in 1805 and the title of the First Naval Lord was changed to "First Sea Lord" on the appointment of Sir Jackie Fisher in 1904. From 1923 onward, the First Sea Lord was a member of the Chiefs of Staff Committee; he now sits on the Defence Council and the Admiralty Board.

Ernle Chatfield, 1st Baron Chatfield Royal Navy admiral of the fleet

Admiral of the Fleet Alfred Ernle Montacute Chatfield, 1st Baron Chatfield, was a Royal Navy officer. During the First World War he was present as Sir David Beatty's Flag-Captain at the Battle of Heligoland Bight in August 1914, at the Battle of Dogger Bank in January 1915 and at the Battle of Jutland in May 1916. After the war he became Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet and then Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet before serving as First Sea Lord in the mid-1930s in which role he won arguments that the Royal Navy should have 70 cruisers rather than the 50 cruisers that had been agreed at the Naval Conference of 1930, that the battleship was still had an important role to play despite the development of the bomber and that the Fleet Air Arm should be part of the Royal Navy rather than the Royal Air Force. He subsequently served as Minister for Coordination of Defence in the early years of the Second World War.

Neville Chamberlain Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Arthur Neville Chamberlain was a British Conservative Party statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his foreign policy of appeasement, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the German-speaking Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany. When Adolf Hitler invaded Poland, the UK declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939, and Chamberlain led Britain through the first eight months of the Second World War.

Minister for Co-ordination of Defence
PortraitName
(Birth–Death)
Term of officePartyMinistry
Thomas Inskip.jpg The Right Honourable
Sir Thomas Inskip
CBE KC

MP for Fareham
(1876–1947)
13 March
1936
29 January
1939
Conservative National III
( Con.N.Lab.Lib.N. )
National IV
( Con.N.Lab.Lib.N. )
Echatfield.jpg The Right Honourable
Ernle Chatfield
1st Baron Chatfield
GCB OM KCMG CVO PC

(1873–1967)
29 January
1939
3 April
1940
Independent
(National)
Chamberlain War
( Con.N.Lab.Lib.N. )

Ministers of Defence (1940–1964)

The post of Minister of Defence was responsible for co-ordination of defence and security from its creation in 1940 until its abolition in 1964. The post was a Cabinet level post and generally ranked above the three service ministers, some of whom, however, continued to also serve in Cabinet.

On his appointment as Prime Minister in May 1940, Winston Churchill created for himself the new post of Minister of Defence. The post was created in response to previous criticism that there had been no clear single minister in charge of the prosecution of World War II. In 1946, the post became the only cabinet-level post representing the military, with the three service ministers – the Secretary of State for War, the First Lord of the Admiralty, and the Secretary of State for Air, now formally subordinated to the Minister of Defence.

Minister of Defence
PortraitName
(Birth–Death)
Term of officePartyMinistry
Churchill1944.png The Right Honourable
Winston Churchill
CH TD FRS

MP for Epping
(1874–1965)
10 May
1940
27 July
1945
Conservative Churchill War
(All parties)
Churchill Caretaker
( Con.N.Lib. )
Clement Attlee.jpg The Right Honourable
Clement Attlee
CH

MP for Limehouse
(1883–1967)
27 July
1945
20 December
1946
Labour Attlee
(I & II)
INF3-62 A V Alexander Artist's signature E A B.jpg The Right Honourable
A. V. Alexander
CH

MP for Sheffield Hillsborough
(1885–1965)
20 December
1946
28 February
1950
Labour
(Co-op)
Emanuel Shinwel HU 059765 (crop).jpg The Right Honourable
Emanuel Shinwell

MP for Easington
(1884–1986)
28 February
1950
26 October
1951
Labour
Churchill portrait NYP 45063.jpg The Right Honourable
Winston Churchill
OM CH TD DL FRS RA

MP for Woodford
(1874–1965)
28 October
1951
1 March
1952
Conservative Churchill III
HarolAlexanderD 026065.jpg Field Marshall The Right Honourable
Harold Alexander
1st Earl Alexander of Tunis
KG GCB GCMG CSI DSO MC CD PC

(1891–1969)
1 March
1952
18 October
1954
Independent
Harold Macmillan in 1942.jpg The Right Honourable
Harold Macmillan

MP for Bromley
(1894–1986)
18 October
1954
7 April
1955
Conservative
Selwyn Lloyd cropped.jpg The Right Honourable
Selwyn Lloyd
CBE QC

MP for Wirral
(1904–1978)
7 April
1955
20 December
1955
Conservative Eden
Walter Monckton cropped.png The Right Honourable
Sir Walter Monckton
GCVO KCMG MC

MP for Bristol West
(1891–1965)
20 December
1955
18 October
1956
Conservative
Antony Head.jpg The Right Honourable
Antony Head
MC

MP for Carshalton
(1906–1983)
18 October
1956
9 January
1957
Conservative
Duncansandys.jpg The Right Honourable
Duncan Sandys

MP for Streatham
(1908–1987)
13 January
1957
14 October
1959
Conservative Macmillan
(I & II)
The Right Honourable
Harold Watkinson

MP for Woking
(1910–1995)
14 October
1959
13 July
1962
Conservative
Peter Thornycroft.jpg The Right Honourable
Peter Thorneycroft

MP for Monmouth
(1909–1994)
13 July
1962
1 April
1964
Conservative
Douglas-Home

Secretaries of State for Defence (1964–present)

The post of Secretary of State for Defence was created on 1 April 1964. The former Cabinet positions of First Lord of the Admiralty, Secretary of State for War and Secretary of State for Air (responsible for the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force respectively) were incorporated into it and the offices of the Admiralty, War Office and the Air Ministry were abolished and their functions transferred to an expanded Ministry of Defence.

Secretary of State for Defence
PortraitName
(Birth–Death)
Term of officePartyMinistryRef.
Peter Thornycroft.jpg The Right Honourable
Peter Thorneycroft

MP for Monmouth
(1909–1994)
1 April
1964
16 October
1964
Conservative Douglas-Home [2]
Denis Healey.jpg The Right Honourable
Denis Healey
MBE

MP for Leeds East
(1917–2015)
16 October
1964
19 June
1970
Labour Wilson
(I & II)
[3]
Peter Carington 1984.jpg The Right Honourable
Peter Carrington
6th Baron Carrington
KCMG MC PC DL

(1919-2018)
20 June
1970
8 January
1974
Conservative Heath
The Right Honourable
Ian Gilmour

MP for Central Norfolk
(1926–2007)
8 January
1974
4 March
1974
Conservative [4]
No image.svg The Right Honourable
Roy Mason

MP for Barnsley
(1924–2015)
5 March
1974
10 September
1976
Labour Wilson
(III & IV)
[5]
Fred Mulley.PNG The Right Honourable
Fred Mulley

MP for Sheffield Park
(1918–1995)
10 September
1976
4 May
1979
Labour Callaghan [6]
Zconcam61.jpg The Right Honourable
Francis Pym
MC

MP for Cambridgeshire
(1922–2008)
5 May
1979
5 January
1981
Conservative Thatcher I [7]
No image.svg The Right Honourable
John Nott

MP for St Ives
(born 1932)
5 January
1981
6 January
1983
Conservative [8]
Lord Heseltine (6969083278).jpg The Right Honourable
Michael Heseltine

MP for Henley
(born 1933)
6 January
1983
7 January
1986
Conservative Thatcher II [9]
George Younger.JPEG The Right Honourable
George Younger
TD

MP for Ayr
(1931–2003)
7 January
1986
24 July
1989
Conservative [10]
[11]
Thatcher III
Official portrait of Lord King of Bridgwater crop 2.jpg The Right Honourable
Tom King

MP for Bridgwater
(born 1933)
24 July
1989
10 April
1992
Conservative [12]
Major I
Malcolm Rifkind.jpg The Right Honourable
Malcolm Rifkind
QC

MP for Edinburgh Pentlands
(born 1946)
10 April
1992
5 July
1995
Conservative Major II [13]
Michael Portillo by Regents College cropped.jpg The Right Honourable
Michael Portillo

MP for Enfield Southgate
(born 1953)
5 July
1995
2 May
1997
Conservative [14]
Official portrait of Lord Robertson of Port Ellen crop 2.jpg The Right Honourable
George Robertson

MP for Hamilton South
(born 1946)
3 May
1997
11 October
1999
Labour Blair
(I–III)
[15]
Geoff Hoon Headshot.jpg The Right Honourable
Geoff Hoon

MP for Ashfield
(born 1953)
11 October
1999
6 May
2005
Labour [16]
ReidTaormina crop.jpg The Right Honourable
John Reid

MP for Airdrie and Shotts
(born 1947)
6 May
2005
5 May
2006
Labour [17]
Official portrait of Lord Browne of Ladyton crop 2.jpg The Right Honourable
Des Browne

MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun
(born 1952)
5 May
2006
3 October
2008
Labour [18]
Brown
Msc 2009-Sunday, 11.00 - 12.30 Uhr-Zwez 005 Hutton detail.jpg The Right Honourable
John Hutton

MP for Barrow and Furness
(born 1955)
3 October
2008
5 June
2009
Labour [19]
Bob Ainsworth cropped.jpg The Right Honourable
Bob Ainsworth

MP for Coventry North East
(born 1952)
5 June
2009
11 May
2010
Labour [20]
Official portrait of Dr Liam Fox crop 2.jpg The Right Honourable
Liam Fox

MP for North Somerset
(born 1961)
11 May
2010
14 October
2011
Conservative Cameron–Clegg
( Con.L.D. )
[21]
[22]
Official portrait of Mr Philip Hammond crop 2.jpg The Right Honourable
Philip Hammond

MP for Runnymede and Weybridge
(born 1955)
14 October
2011
15 July
2014
Conservative [23]
[24]
Official portrait of Sir Michael Fallon crop 2.jpg The Right Honourable
Sir Michael Fallon
KCB

MP for Sevenoaks
(born 1952)
15 July
2014
1 November
2017
Conservative [25]
[26]
Cameron II
May I
May II
Official portrait of Gavin Williamson crop 2.jpg The Right Honourable
Gavin Williamson
CBE

MP for South Staffordshire
(born 1976)
2 November
2017
1 May
2019
Conservative [27]
[28]
Official portrait of Penny Mordaunt crop 2.jpg The Right Honourable
Penny Mordaunt

MP for Portsmouth North
(born 1973)
1 May
2019
Incumbent Conservative [29]

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References

  1. This quote has been made on many occasions and the original source is unclear. The highly influential polemic Guilty Men (whose relevant chapter is entitled "Caligula's Horse") attributes it to a "great statesman" (page 74), whom some have surmised was Churchill. However Stewart, Graham Burying Caesar: Churchill, Chamberlain and the Battle for the Tory Party (London; Phoenix, 1999) ( ISBN   0-7538-1060-3), page 487 attributes the originator of the quote to Churchill's non-politician friend Professor Frederick Lindemann.
  2. "Mr Peter Thorneycroft". Hansard 1803–2005. UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  3. "Lord Healey". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  4. "Lord Gilmour of Craigmillar". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  5. "Lord Mason of Barnsley". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  6. "Lord Mulley". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  7. "Lord Pym". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  8. "Rt Hon Sir John Nott". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  9. "Lord Heseltine". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  10. "Rt Hon Sir George Younger". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  11. George Jones (27 January 2003). "Thatcher's ally George Younger dies at 71". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  12. "Lord King of Bridgwater". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  13. "Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Rifkind QC". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  14. "Rt Hon Michael Portillo". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  15. "Lord Robertson of Port Ellen". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  16. "Mr Geoffrey Hoon". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  17. "Lord Reid of Cardowan". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  18. "Lord Browne of Ladyton". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  19. "Lord Hutton of Furness". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  20. "Rt Hon Bob Ainsworth". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  21. "Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  22. "Who's who in the coalition cabinet". The Guardian. 13 May 2010. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  23. "Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  24. "Liam Fox quits as defence secretary". BBC News. 14 October 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  25. "Rt Hon Sir Michael Fallon MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  26. "Reshuffle at-a-glance: In, out and moved about". BBC News. 15 July 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  27. "Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  28. "Gavin Williamson replaces Michael Fallon as defence secretary". BBC News. 2 November 2017. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
  29. "Gavin Williamson sacked over Huawei leak". 1 May 2019. Retrieved 2 May 2019.