Secretary of State for Defence

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United Kingdom
Secretary of State for Defence
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Royal Arms as used by Her Majesty's Government
Flag of the British Secretary of State for Defence.svg
Secretary of State Michael Fallon.jpg
Incumbent
Sir Michael Fallon

since 15 July 2014
Ministry of Defence
Style The Right Honourable
(Formal prefix)
Defence Secretary
Member of British Cabinet
Privy Council
National Security Council
Defence Council
Admiralty Board
Army Board
Air Force Board
Reports to The Prime Minister
Seat Westminster, London
Appointer The British Monarch
on advice of the Prime Minister
Term length No fixed term
Formation 1 April 1964
First holder Peter Thorneycroft
Website www.gov.uk
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Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Defence (Defence Secretary) is an official within Her Majesty's Government and head of the Ministry of Defence. The office is a British Cabinet–level position.

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).

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.

The position was established by Prime Minister 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.

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.

Minister for Co-ordination of Defence
Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of office Party Ministry
Thomas Inskip.jpg The Right Honourable
Sir Thomas Inskip
CBE KC

MP for Fareham
(1876–1947)
13 March
1936
29 January
1939
Conservative 3rd National
(Con.N.Lab.Lib.N.)
4th National
(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
Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of office Party Ministry
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.)
Attlee BW cropped.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
Sir Harold Alexander 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 number 10 official.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
(I & II)
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
No image.svg The Right Honourable
Antony Head
MC

MP for Carshalton
(1906–1983)
18 October
1956
9 January
1957
Conservative
Sandys 1944 cropped.jpg The Right Honourable
Duncan Sandys

MP for Streatham
(1908–1987)
13 January
1957
14 October
1959
Conservative Macmillan
(I & II)
No image.svg The Right Honourable
Harold Watkinson

MP for Woking
(1910–1995)
14 October
1959
13 July
1962
Conservative
Peter Thorneycroft cropped.png 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
Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of office Party Ministry
Peter Thorneycroft cropped.png The Right Honourable
Peter Thorneycroft

MP for Monmouth
(1909–1994)
1 April
1964
16 October
1964
Conservative Douglas-Home
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)
Peter Carington 1984.jpg The Right Honourable
Peter Carington
6th Baron Carrington
KCMG MC PC DL

(born 1919)
20 June
1970
8 January
1974
Conservative Heath
No image.svg The Right Honourable
Ian Gilmour

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

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

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

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

MP for St Ives
(born 1932)
5 January
1981
6 January
1983
Conservative
Lord Heseltine, Deputy Prime Minister, UK (1995-97) (10559130986).jpg The Right Honourable
Michael Heseltine

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

MP for Ayr
(1931–2003)
7 January
1986
24 July
1989
Conservative
Thatcher III
No image.svg The Right Honourable
Tom King

MP for Bridgwater
(born 1933)
24 July
1989
10 April
1992
Conservative
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
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
George Robertson.jpg The Right Honourable
George Robertson

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

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

MP for Airdrie and Shotts
(born 1947)
6 May
2005
5 May
2006
Labour
Des Browne 070114-D-7203T-010.jpg The Right Honourable
Des Browne

MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun
(born 1952)
5 May
2006
3 October
2008
Labour
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
Bob Ainsworth cropped.jpg The Right Honourable
Bob Ainsworth

MP for Coventry North East
(born 1952)
5 June
2009
11 May
2010
Labour
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.)
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
Secretary of State Michael Fallon.jpg The Right Honourable
Sir Michael Fallon
KCB

MP for Sevenoaks
(born 1952)
15 July
2014
Incumbent Conservative
Cameron II
May I
May II

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.

External links

  • www.gov.uk/mod
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