Secretary of State for Wales

Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Wales (Welsh: Ysgrifennydd Gwladol Cymru) is the principal minister of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom with responsibilities for Wales. He or she is a member of the cabinet and the head of the Wales Office. He or she is responsible for ensuring Welsh interests are taken into account by Her Majesty's Government, representing the government within Wales and overseeing the passing of legislation which is only for Wales. The post is currently held by Simon Hart since 2019.

Secretary of State for Wales
Royal Arms as used by Her Majesty's Government
Simon Hart

since 16 December 2019
Office of the Secretary of State for Wales
StyleThe Right Honourable
(Formal prefix)
Wales Secretary
AppointerElizabeth II
Formation18 October 1964
WebsiteOfficial website
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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. When they came to power in 1964 this was soon put into effect.

The post of secretary of state for Wales came into existence on 17 October 1964; the first incumbent was 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, was united in a newly created Welsh Office with the secretary of state for Wales at its head, and the Welsh Secretary became responsible 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 zero, the office fell into disrepute. Nicholas Edwards, MP for Pembrokeshire, held the post for eight years. 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 when he publicly demonstrated his inability to sing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, the Welsh national anthem, at a conference.

The introduction of the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government, after 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, to reflect the lesser powers of the role since devolution.[1][2]

Ministers and Secretaries of State

Colour key
  Conservative   National Liberal   Labour

Ministers of Welsh Affairs (1951–1964)

Name Term of office Political party Prime Minister
Sir David Maxwell Fyfe
(also Home Secretary)
28 October 1951 18 October 1954 Conservative Sir Winston Churchill
Gwilym Lloyd George
(also Home Secretary)
18 October 1954 13 January 1957 Liberal & Conservative
Sir Anthony Eden
Henry Brooke
(also Min. of Housing & Local Govt.)
13 January 1957 9 October 1961 Conservative Harold Macmillan
Charles Hill
(also Min. of Housing & Local Govt.)
9 October 1961 13 July 1962 National Liberal & Conservative
Sir Keith Joseph
(also Min. of Housing & Local Govt.)
13 July 1962 16 October 1964 Conservative
Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Secretaries of State for Wales (1964–present)

Name Term of office Political party Prime Minister
Jim Griffiths 18 October 1964 5 April 1966 Labour Harold Wilson
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
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
David Hunt 4 May 1990 27 May 1993 Conservative John Major
John Redwood 27 May 1993 26 June 1995[fn 1] Conservative
David Hunt
26 June 1995 5 July 1995 Conservative
William Hague 5 July 1995 3 May 1997 Conservative
Ron Davies 3 May 1997 27 October 1998[fn 2] Labour Tony Blair
Alun Michael 27 October 1998 28 July 1999[fn 3] Labour
Paul Murphy 28 July 1999 24 October 2002 Labour
Peter Hain
(also Ldr. of the Commons 2003–05
Northern Ireland Sec. 2005–07
Work & Pensions Sec. 2007–08)
24 October 2002 24 January 2008 Labour
Gordon Brown
Paul Murphy 24 January 2008 5 June 2009 Labour
Peter Hain 5 June 2009 11 May 2010 Labour
Cheryl Gillan 11 May 2010 4 September 2012 Conservative David Cameron (I)
David Jones 4 September 2012 14 July 2014 Conservative
Stephen Crabb 15 July 2014 19 March 2016 Conservative
David Cameron (II)
Alun Cairns 19 March 2016 6 November 2019 Conservative
Theresa May (I)
Theresa May (II)
Boris Johnson (I)
Simon Hart 16 December 2019 Present Conservative Boris Johnson (II)[3]
  1. Redwood resigned to stand in the 1995 Conservative leadership election. During the election, Hunt acted as Secretary of State.
  2. Resigned following a "moment of madness" on Clapham Common.
  3. Following implementation of the Government of Wales Act 1998, and the 1999 Assembly election, Michael held office as inaugural First Secretary for Wales from 12 May 1999.

See also


  1. "WALES | 'Scrap Welsh secretary' demand". BBC News. 19 March 2001. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  2. "UK | Wales | Wales Office in melting pot". BBC News. 12 June 2003. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  3. "Cabinet reshuffle: Simon Hart appointed new Welsh secretary". BBC News. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
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