First Secretary of State

First Secretary of State
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Official portrait of Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP.jpg
Dominic Raab

since 24 July 2019
Government of the United Kingdom
Office of the Prime Minister
Style The Right Honourable
First Secretary of State (informal)
Member of
Reports to The Prime Minister
Residence None, may use Grace and favour residences
Seat Westminster, London
Nominator The Prime Minister
Appointer The British Monarch
on the advice of the Prime Minister
Term length No fixed term
Inaugural holder Rab Butler
Formation 13 July 1962
Salary £153,022 (annual, including £81,932 MP's salary)[1]
Website Official website

First Secretary of State is a title sometimes given to a cabinet minister in the Government of the United Kingdom. The title implies seniority over all other Secretaries of State,[2] but has no specific powers or authority attached to it, including no automatic sucession to the Prime Minister. The title is not always in use, so there have sometimes been extended gaps between successive holders of the title.

The title temporarily enjoyed some greater constitutional footing between when it was incorporated as a corporate sole in 2002[3] and having all of its remaining functions transferred in 2008.[4] During most of this time, the title was held by John Prescott.

Boris Johnson appointed the incumbent Dominic Raab to the title on 24 July 2019.[5] When Johnson was moved to the Intensive Care Unit on the 6 April 2020 after contracting COVID-19, Raab was asked " deputise for him where necessary."[6]


The role has had varying responsibilities over time. The most recent responsibilities are:[7][better source needed]

Relationship with the title of Deputy Prime Minister

The title of Deputy Prime Minister indicates that the holder ranks de facto second in government, after the Prime Minister, but does not confer cabinet rank.[citation needed] As it is not mentioned in the UK's uncodified constitution, it also does not come with any executive powers or automatically pay a salary, while the title of Secretary of State does pay a salary.[8]

The title of First Secretary of State was created in 1962 for Deputy Prime Minister R. A. Butler, granting him a place in cabinet despite not holding a specific cabinet portfolio.[citation needed] Michael Heseltine and John Prescott were also relieved of their cabinet portfolios when serving as Deputy Prime Minister and were therefore additionally appointed First Secretary of State.[citation needed]

In 1964, Prime Minister Harold Wilson established the alternative usage, appointing a First Secretary of State among the cabinet without appointing a Deputy Prime Minister.

The two titles have only existed concurrently with different holders in David Cameron's coalition government, wherein Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg was appointed Deputy Prime Minister, while William Hague was appointed First Secretary of State.

List of First Secretaries of State

First Secretary of State
Portrait Name
Term of office Other ministerial offices Party Ministry Ref.
Rab Butler.jpg R. A. Butler[9]
MP for Saffron Walden
13 July
18 October
Conservative Macmillan II [10]
Title not in use 1963–1964
GeorgeBrown1967.jpg George Brown
MP for Belper
16 October
11 August
Labour Wilson
(I & II)
Michael Stewart (1966).jpg Michael Stewart
MP for Fulham
11 August
6 April
Labour [10]
Mme Barbara Castle, Ministre britannique du développement outre-mer.jpg Barbara Castle
MP for Blackburn
6 April
19 June
Labour [10]
Title not in use 1970–1995
Lord Heseltine (6969083278).jpg Michael Heseltine
MP for Henley
(born 1933)
20 July
2 May
Conservative Major II [11]
Title not in use 1997–2001
John Prescott on his last day as Deputy Prime Minister, June 2007.jpg John Prescott
MP for Kingston upon Hull East
(born 1938)
8 June
27 June
Labour Blair II [12]
Blair III
Title not in use 2007–2009
Peter Mandelson, September 2008.jpg Peter Mandelson
Baron Mandelson

(born 1953)
5 June
11 May
Labour Brown
William Hague Foreign Secretary (2010).jpg William Hague
MP for Richmond (Yorks)
(born 1961)
12 May
8 May
Conservative Cameron–Clegg
Osborne 2015.jpg George Osborne
MP for Tatton
(born 1971)
8 May
13 July
Conservative Cameron II [14]
Title not in use 2016–2017
Official portrait of Rt Hon Damian Green MP crop 2.jpg Damian Green
MP for Ashford
(born 1956)
11 June
20 December
Conservative May II [15][16]
Title not in use 2017–2019
Official portrait of Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP crop 2.jpg Dominic Raab
MP for Esher and Walton
(born 1974)
24 July
Incumbent Conservative Johnson
(I & II)


Dominic RaabDamian GreenGeorge OsborneWilliam HaguePeter MandelsonJohn PrescottMichael HeseltineBarbara CastleMichael StewartGeorge BrownRab Butler

See also