- Secretary of State for Wales
Secretary of State for Wales
Royal Badge of Wales
Style The Right Honourable Appointer David Cameron Inaugural holder James Griffiths Formation 18 October 1964 Website Wales Office United Kingdom
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The Secretary of State for Wales (Welsh: Ysgrifennydd Gwladol Cymru) is the head of the Wales Office within the British cabinet. He or she is responsible for ensuring Welsh interests are taken into account by the government, representing the government within Wales and overseeing the passing of legislation which is only for Wales. The current Secretary of State for Wales is Cheryl Gillan.
In the first half of the 20th century, a number of politicians had supported the creation of the post of Secretary of State for Wales as a step towards Home Rule for Wales. A post of Minister of Welsh Affairs was created in 1951 under the Home Secretary and was upgraded to Minister of State level in 1954.
The Labour party proposed the creation of a Welsh Office run by a Secretary of State for Wales in their manifesto for the 1959 general election and once they came to power in 1964 this could be put into effect.
The post of Secretary of State for Wales came into existence on the 17 October 1964, the first incumbent being Jim Griffiths, MP for Llanelli. The position entailed responsibility for Wales and expenditure on certain public services was delegated from Westminster. In April 1965 administration of Welsh affairs, which had previously been divided between a number of government departments were united in a newly created Welsh Office with the Secretary of State for Wales at its head. As a result the Welsh Secretary came to have responsibility for education and training, health, trade and industry, environment, transport and agriculture within Wales.
During the 1980s and 1990s, as the number of Conservative MPs for Welsh constituencies dwindled almost to nothing, the office fell into disrepute. Nicholas Edwards, MP for Pembrokeshire, held the post for some years, but was constantly mocked for his upper-class appearance and accent. On his departure, the government ceased to look within Wales for the Secretary of State, and the post was increasingly used as a way of getting junior high-fliers into the Cabinet. John Redwood in particular caused embarrassment to the government when he publicly demonstrated an inability to sing (or even successfully mime) "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau", the Welsh national anthem.
The introduction of the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government following the devolution referendum of 1997 was the beginning of a new era. On 1 July 1999 the majority of the functions of the Welsh Office transferred to the new assembly. The Welsh Office was disbanded but the post of Secretary of State for Wales was retained, as the head of the newly created Wales Office.
Since 1999 there have been calls for the office of Welsh Secretary to be scrapped or merged with the posts of Secretary of State for Scotland and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland due to the lesser powers of the role since devolution.
Ministers and Secretaries of State
David Maxwell Fyfe
Home Secretary &
Minister of Welsh Affairs 1951–54.
Gwilym Lloyd George
Home Secretary &
Minister of Welsh Affairs 1954–57.
Secretary of State for Wales 1995–97.
Secretary of State for Wales 1997–98.
Secretary of State for Wales 1999–2002, 2008–09.
Secretary of State for Wales 2002–08, 2009–10.
Ministers of Welsh Affairs (1951–1964)
Name Took office Left office Political party Prime Minister Notes Sir David Maxwell Fyfe 28 October 1951 18 October 1954 Conservative Sir Winston Churchill First Minister of Welsh Affairs, combined with Home Secretary Gwilym Lloyd George 18 October 1954 13 January 1957 Conservative Minister of Welsh Affairs, combined with Home Secretary Sir Anthony Eden Henry Brooke 13 January 1957 9 October 1961 Conservative Harold Macmillan Minister of Welsh Affairs, combined with Minister of Housing and Local Government Charles Hill 9 October 1961 13 July 1962 National Liberal Minister of Welsh Affairs, combined with Minister of Housing and Local Government Sir Keith Joseph 13 July 1962 16 October 1964 Conservative Minister of Welsh Affairs, combined with Minister of Housing and Local Government Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Secretaries of State for Wales (1964– )
Name Took office Left office Political party Prime Minister Notes James Griffiths 18 October 1964 5 April 1966 Labour Harold Wilson First Secretary of State for Wales Cledwyn Hughes 5 April 1966 5 April 1968 Labour George Thomas 5 April 1968 20 June 1970 Labour Peter Thomas 20 June 1970 5 March 1974 Conservative Edward Heath First Secretary of State for Wales representing an English constituency John Morris 5 March 1974 5 May 1979 Labour Harold Wilson James Callaghan Nicholas Edwards 5 May 1979 13 June 1987 Conservative Margaret Thatcher Peter Walker 13 June 1987 4 May 1990 Conservative Born in England, represented English constituency David Hunt 4 May 1990 27 May 1993 Conservative John Major Born in England, represented English constituency John Redwood 27 May 1993 26 June 1995 Conservative Born in England, represented English constituency, resigned to stand for the leadership of the Conservative party. David Hunt 26 June 1995 5 July 1995 Conservative Acting Secretary of State during the 1995 Conservative leadership contest William Hague 5 July 1995 3 May 1997 Conservative Born in England, represented English constituency Ron Davies 3 May 1997 27 October 1998 Labour Tony Blair Resigned following a "moment of madness" on Clapham Common. Alun Michael 27 October 1998 28 July 1999 Labour Paul Murphy 28 July 1999 24 October 2002 Labour Peter Hain 24 October 2002 24 January 2008 Labour Born in Kenya
Leader of the House of Commons, 2003-2005
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, 2005-2007
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 2007–2008
Gordon Brown Paul Murphy 24 January 2008 5 June 2009 Labour Peter Hain 5 June 2009 11 May 2010 Labour Born in Kenya Cheryl Gillan 11 May 2010 Incumbent Conservative David Cameron Born in Wales, represents English constituency
- ^ "David Cameron appoints Cheryl Gillan as Welsh Secretary". BBC News. 2010-05-12. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/8677418.stm. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
- ^ "WALES | 'Scrap Welsh secretary' demand". BBC News. 2001-03-19. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/1228468.stm. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
- ^ "UK | Wales | Wales Office in melting pot". BBC News. 2003-06-12. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/2978760.stm. Retrieved 2010-06-07.
- Current duties of the Secretary of State for Wales
- List of Secretaries of State for Wales
- Labour Party in Wales - covers the history of the post
- Hain promoted in Brown's cabinet, BBC News Online, 28 June 2007
- Hain takes work and pensions job, BBC News Online, 28 June 2007
Secretaries of State for Wales 1964-1970 1970-1974 1974-1979 1979-1997 1997-2010 2010-present
- Also Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (2005-2007)
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