Lord President of the Council

Lord President of the Council
Incumbent
Penny Mordaunt
since 6 September 2022
Privy Council of the United Kingdom
Privy Council Office
StyleThe Right Honourable
TypeGreat Officer of State
AppointerThe Sovereign
on advice of the Prime Minister
Term lengthAt His Majesty's pleasure
Formation1530
First holderThe 1st Duke of Suffolk
Salary£159,038 per annum (2022)
(including £86,584 MP salary)
Websiteprivycouncil.independent.gov.uk

The Lord President of the Council is the presiding officer of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom and the fourth of the Great Officers of State, ranking below the Lord High Treasurer but above the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal. The Lord President usually attends and is responsible for chairing the meetings of the Privy Council, presenting business for the approval of the Sovereign. In the modern era, the incumbent is by convention always a member of one of the houses of Parliament, and the office is normally a Cabinet position.

The office and its history

The Privy Council meets once a month, wherever the sovereign may be residing at the time, to give formal approval to Orders in Council. Only a few privy counsellors need attend such meetings, and only when invited to do so at the government's request. As the duties of the Lord President are not onerous, the post has often been given to a government minister whose responsibilities are not department-specific. In recent years it has been most typical for the Lord President also to serve as Leader of the House of Commons or Leader of the House of Lords. The Lord President has no role in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

In the history of British government, the President of the Council is a relatively recent creation. The first certain appointment to the office being that of the Duke of Suffolk in 1529. Although there is a reference to Edmund Dudley serving as 'president of the council' in 1497, it was only in 1529 that the role was given the style and precedence of a Great Officer of State by act of Parliament (21 Hen. 8. c. 20). Prior to 1679 there were several periods in which the office was left vacant.

In the 19th century, the Lord President was generally the cabinet member responsible for the education system, amongst his other duties. This role was gradually scaled back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries but remnants of it remain, such as the oversight of the governance of various universities.

During times of National or coalition government the office of Lord President has sometimes been held by the leader of a minority party (e.g. Baldwin 1931–1935, MacDonald 1935–1937, Attlee 1943–1945, Clegg 2010–2015). It has been suggested that the office has been intermittently used for Prime Ministerial deputies in the past.[clarification needed]

A particularly vital role was played by the Lord President of the Council during the Second World War. The Lord President served as chairman of the Lord President's Committee. This committee acted as a central clearing house which dealt with the country's economic problems. This was vital to the smooth running of the British war economy and consequently the entire British war effort.

Winston Churchill, clearly believing that this wartime co-ordinating role was beneficial, introduced a similar but expanded system in the first few years of his post-war premiership. The so-called 'overlord ministers' included Frederick Leathers as Secretary of State for the Co-ordination of Transport, Fuel and Power and Lord Woolton as Lord President. Woolton's job was to co-ordinate the then separate ministries of agriculture and food. The historian Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield quotes a PhD thesis by Michael Kandiah saying that Woolton was "arguably the most successful of the Overlords" partly because his ministries were quite closely related; indeed, they were merged in 1955 as the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

On several occasions since 1954, non-British Ministers have served briefly as acting Lords President of the Council, solely to preside over a meeting of the Privy Council held in a Commonwealth realm. Examples of this practice are the meetings in New Zealand in 1990 and 1995, when Geoffrey Palmer and James Bolger respectively were acting Lords President.

Andrea Leadsom's appointment in June 2017 was the first in some time where the post holder was not a full Cabinet member.

Role and responsibilities

Routine functions

"The Privy Council is the mechanism through which interdepartmental agreement is reached on those items of Government business which, for historical or other reasons, fall to Ministers as Privy Counsellors rather than as Departmental Ministers."

The routine functions of the lord president are as follows:

  1. Preside at Privy Council meetings, including any emergency meetings, and attend to both ministerial correspondence and parliamentary questions relating to Privy Council business.
  2. Consider for approval prerogative and statutory Orders in Council. Prerogative orders deal with the basic functioning of the British state and are thus applicable under a number of circumstances, including but not limited to the prorogation of Parliament, the granting, amendment, and revocation of royal charters, the appointment of high sheriffs, or the governance of British Overseas Territories. On the other hand, statutory orders are a form of delegated legislation conferred on His Majesty's Government by Parliament for the purposes of creating detailed regulations through rulemaking. Unlike prerogative orders, statutory Orders in Council are subject to parliamentary scrutiny. As a consequence, most Orders in Council operate on statutory footing as opposed to the common law authorities conferred by the royal prerogative.
  3. Consider for approval Orders of Council concerning various matters of state, namely appointments to and regulation of professional bodies and institutions of higher education. Unlike Orders in Council which are enacted by the sovereign on the advice of the Privy Council, Orders of Council are enacted by the Privy Council itself pursuant to statutory authority conferred by Parliament.
  4. As a member of the Privy Council's Committee for the Affairs of Jersey and Guernsey, review laws passed by the bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey, and make recommendations to the sovereign concerning their approval.

Visitorial functions

In addition to his or her routine functions, the lord president also serves as the visitor for several English universities, including:

Partial list of Lords President of the Council

Lords President of the Council (c. 1530–1702)

Lord President of the Council
Lord President Term of office
Charles Brandon
1st Duke of Suffolk
1530 14 August
1545
William Paulet
1st Marquess of Winchester
January
1546
February
1550
John Dudley
1st Duke of Northumberland
February
1550
July
1553
Henry Montagu
1st Earl of Manchester
September
1621
July
1628
James Ley
1st Earl of Marlborough
July
1628
14 December
1628
Edward Conway
1st Viscount Conway
14 December
1628
3 January
1631
Anthony Ashley-Cooper
1st Earl of Shaftesbury
21 April
1679
15 October
1679
John Robartes
1st Earl of Radnor
24 October
1679
24 August
1684
Laurence Hyde
1st Earl of Rochester
24 August
1684
18 February
1685
George Savile
1st Marquess of Halifax
18 February
1685
4 December
1685
Robert Spencer
2nd Earl of Sunderland
4 December
1685
October
1688
Richard Graham
1st Viscount Preston
October
1688
December
1688
Thomas Osborne
1st Duke of Leeds

14 February
1689
18 May
1699
Thomas Herbert
8th Earl of Pembroke
18 May
1699
29 January
1702
Charles Seymour
6th Duke of Somerset
29 January
1702
13 July
1702

Lords President of the Council (1702–present)

Lord President Term of office Other ministerial portfolios held during tenure Party Ministry Monarch
Thomas Herbert
8th Earl of Pembroke
13 July
1702
25 November
1708
Godolphin–Marlborough
(ToryWhig)
Anne
John Somers
1st Baron Somers
25 November
1708
21 September
1710
Whig
Laurence Hyde
1st Earl of Rochester
21 September
1710
13 June
1711
Tory Oxford–Bolingbroke
John Sheffield
1st Duke of Buckingham and Normanby
13 June
1711
23 September
1714
George I
Daniel Finch
2nd Earl of Nottingham
23 September
1714
6 July
1716
Tory Townshend
William Cavendish
2nd Duke of Devonshire
6 July
1716
16 March
1718
Whig
Stanhope–Sunderland I
Charles Spencer
3rd Earl of Sunderland
16 March
1718
6 February
1719
Whig Stanhope–Sunderland II
Evelyn Pierrepont
1st Duke of Kingston-upon-Hull
6 February
1719
11 June
1720
Whig
Charles Townshend
2nd Viscount Townshend
11 June
1720
25 June
1721
Whig
Walpole–Townshend
Henry Boyle
1st Baron Carleton
25 June
1721
27 March
1725
Whig
William Cavendish
2nd Duke of Devonshire
27 March
1725
4 June
1729
Whig
George II
Thomas Trevor
1st Baron Trevor
8 May
1730
19 June
1730
Tory
Spencer Compton
1st Earl of Wilmington
31 December
1730
13 February
1742
Whig Walpole
William Stanhope
1st Earl of Harrington
13 February
1742
3 January
1745
Whig Carteret
Broad Bottom
(I & II)
Lionel Sackville
1st Duke of Dorset
3 January
1745
17 June
1751
Whig
John Carteret
2nd Earl Granville
17 June
1751
2 January
1763
Whig
Newcastle I
Pitt–Devonshire
1757 Caretaker
Pitt–Newcastle
George III
Bute
John Russell
4th Duke of Bedford
9 September
1763
12 July
1765
Whig Grenville
(WhigTory)
Daniel Finch
8th Earl of Winchilsea
12 July
1765
30 July
1766
Whig Rockingham I
Robert Henley
1st Earl of Northington
30 July
1766
22 December
1767
Whig Chatham
(WhigTory)
Granville Leveson-Gower
2nd Earl Gower
22 December
1767
24 November
1779
Tory
Grafton
(WhigTory)
North
Henry Bathurst
2nd Earl Bathurst
24 November
1779
27 March
1782
Tory
Charles Pratt
1st Baron Camden
27 March
1782
2 April
1783
Whig Rockingham II
Shelburne
(WhigTory)
David Murray
7th Viscount Stormont
2 April
1783
19 December
1783
Tory Fox–North
(WhigTory)
Granville Leveson-Gower
2nd Earl Gower
19 December
1783
1 December
1784
Tory Pitt I
Charles Pratt
1st Earl Camden
1 December
1784
18 April
1794
Tory
William Wentworth-Fitzwilliam
4th Earl Fitzwilliam
1 July
1794
17 December
1794
Whig
David Murray
2nd Earl of Mansfield
17 December
1794
1 September
1796
Tory
John Pitt
2nd Earl of Chatham
21 September
1796
30 July
1801
Addington
William Cavendish-Bentinck
3rd Duke of Portland
30 July
1801
14 January
1805
Tory
Pitt II
Henry Addington
1st Viscount Sidmouth
14 January
1805
10 July
1805
Tory
John Pratt
2nd Earl Camden
10 July
1805
19 February
1806
Tory
William Wentworth-Fitzwilliam
4th Earl Fitzwilliam
19 February
1806
8 October
1806
Whig All the Talents
(WhigTory)
Henry Addington
1st Viscount Sidmouth
8 October
1806
26 March
1807
Tory
John Pratt
2nd Earl Camden
26 March
1807
8 April
1812
Tory Portland II
Perceval
Henry Addington
1st Viscount Sidmouth
8 April
1812
11 June
1812
Tory
Dudley Ryder
1st Earl of Harrowby
11 June
1812
17 August
1827
Tory Liverpool
George IV
Canning
(CanningiteWhig)
William Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck
4th Duke of Portland
DCL
17 August
1827
28 January
1828
Tory Goderich
(CanningiteWhig)
Henry Bathurst
3rd Earl Bathurst
28 January
1828
22 November
1830
Tory Wellington–Peel
William IV
Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice
3rd Marquess of Lansdowne
22 November
1830
15 November
1834
Whig Grey
Melbourne I
James St Clair-Erskine
2nd Earl of Rosslyn
15 December
1834
18 April
1835
Conservative Peel I
Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice
3rd Marquess of Lansdowne
18 April
1835
3 September
1841
Whig Melbourne II
Victoria
James Stuart-Wortley
1st Baron Wharncliffe
3 September
1841
19 December
1845
Conservative Peel II
Walter Montagu Douglas Scott
5th Duke of Buccleuch
21 January
1846
6 July
1846
Conservative
Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice
3rd Marquess of Lansdowne
6 July
1846
27 February
1852
Whig Russell I
William Lowther
2nd Earl of Lonsdale
27 February
1852
28 December
1852
Conservative Who? Who?
Granville Leveson-Gower
2nd Earl Granville
28 December
1852
12 June
1854
Whig Aberdeen
(PeeliteWhig)
Lord John Russell
MP for City of London
12 June
1854
8 February
1855
Whig
Granville Leveson-Gower
2nd Earl Granville
8 February
1855
26 February
1858
Whig Palmerston I
James Gascoyne-Cecil
2nd Marquess of Salisbury
26 February
1858
18 June
1859
Conservative Derby–Disraeli II
Granville Leveson-Gower
2nd Earl Granville
18 June
1859
6 July
1866
Liberal Palmerston II
Russell II
Richard Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville
3rd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos
6 July
1866
8 March
1867
Conservative Derby–Disraeli III
John Spencer-Churchill
7th Duke of Marlborough
8 March
1867
9 December
1868
Conservative
George Robinson
1st Marquess of Ripon
9 December
1868
9 August
1873
Liberal Gladstone I
Henry Bruce
1st Baron Aberdare
9 August
1873
21 February
1874
Liberal
Charles Gordon-Lennox
6th Duke of Richmond
21 February
1874
28 April
1880
Conservative Disraeli II
John Spencer
5th Earl Spencer
28 April
1880
19 March
1883
Liberal Gladstone II
Chichester Parkinson-Fortescue
1st Baron Carlingford
19 March
1883
24 June
1885
Liberal
Gathorne Gathorne-Hardy
1st Viscount Cranbrook
24 June
1885
6 February
1886
Conservative Salisbury I
John Spencer
5th Earl Spencer
6 February
1886
3 August
1886
Liberal Gladstone III
Gathorne Gathorne-Hardy
1st Viscount Cranbrook
3 August
1886
18 August
1892
Conservative Salisbury II
John Wodehouse
1st Earl of Kimberley
18 August
1892
10 March
1894
Liberal Gladstone IV
Archibald Primrose
5th Earl of Rosebery
10 March
1894
29 June
1895
Liberal Rosebery
Spencer Cavendish
8th Duke of Devonshire
29 June
1895
19 October
1903
Liberal Unionist Salisbury
(III & IV)

(Con.Lib.U.)
Edward VII
Balfour
(Con.Lib.U.)
Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart
6th Marquess of Londonderry
19 October
1903
11 December
1905
Conservative
Robert Crewe-Milnes
1st Earl of Crewe
11 December
1905
16 April
1908
Liberal Campbell-Bannerman
Edward Marjoribanks
2nd Baron Tweedmouth
16 April
1908
19 October
1908
Liberal Asquith
(I–III)
Henry Fowler
1st Viscount Wolverhampton
19 October
1908
21 June
1910
Liberal
George V
William Lygon
7th Earl Beauchamp
21 June
1910
7 November
1910
Liberal
John Morley
1st Viscount Morley of Blackburn
7 November
1910
5 August
1914
Liberal
William Lygon
7th Earl Beauchamp
5 August
1914
25 May
1915
Liberal
Robert Crewe-Milnes
1st Marquess of Crewe
25 May
1915
10 December
1916
Liberal Asquith Coalition
(Lib.Con.Lab.)
George Curzon
1st Earl Curzon of Kedleston
10 December
1916
23 October
1919
Conservative Lloyd George
(I & II)

(Lib.Con.Lab.)
Arthur Balfour
1st Earl of Balfour
23 October
1919
19 October
1922
Conservative
James Gascoyne-Cecil
4th Marquess of Salisbury
24 October
1922
22 January
1924
Conservative Law
Baldwin I
Charles Cripps
1st Baron Parmoor
22 January
1924
3 November
1924
Labour MacDonald I
George Curzon
1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston
6 November
1924
27 April
1925
Conservative Baldwin II
Arthur Balfour
1st Earl of Balfour
27 April
1925
4 June
1929
Conservative
Charles Cripps
1st Baron Parmoor
7 June
1929
24 August
1931
Labour MacDonald II
Stanley Baldwin
MP for Bewdley
25 August
1931
7 June
1935
Conservative National I
(N.Lab.Con.Lib.N.
Lib.
National II
(N.Lab.Con.Lib.N.
Lib. until 1932
)
Ramsay MacDonald
MP for Combined Scottish Universities
7 June
1935
28 May
1937
National Labour National III
(Con.N.Lab.Lib.N.)
Edward VIII
George VI
Edward Wood
3rd Viscount Halifax
28 May
1937
9 March
1938
Conservative National IV
(Con.N.Lab.Lib.N.)
Douglas Hogg
1st Viscount Hailsham
9 March
1938
31 October
1938
Conservative
Walter Runciman
1st Viscount Runciman of Doxford
31 October
1938
3 September
1939
National Liberal
James Stanhope
7th Earl Stanhope
3 September
1939
11 May
1940
Conservative Chamberlain War
(Con.N.Lab.Lib.N.)
Neville Chamberlain
MP for Birmingham Edgbaston
11 May
1940
3 October
1940
Conservative Churchill War
(All parties)
John Anderson
MP for Combined Scottish Universities
3 October
1940
24 September
1943
National
Clement Attlee
MP for Limehouse
24 September
1943
23 May
1945
Labour
Frederick Marquis
1st Baron Woolton
25 May
1945
26 July
1945
National Churchill Caretaker
(Con.Lib.N.)
Herbert Morrison
MP for Lewisham South
27 July
1945
9 March
1951

Labour Attlee
(I & II)
Christopher Addison
1st Viscount Addison
9 March
1951
26 October
1951
Labour
Frederick Marquis
1st Baron Woolton
28 October
1951
25 November
1952
Conservative Churchill III
Elizabeth II
Robert Gascoyne-Cecil
5th Marquess of Salisbury
25 November
1952
29 March
1957
Conservative
Eden
Macmillan
(I & II)
Alec Douglas-Home
14th Earl of Home
29 March
1957
17 September
1957
Conservative
Quintin Hogg
2nd Viscount Hailsham
17 September
1957
14 October
1959
Conservative
Alec Douglas-Home
14th Earl of Home
14 October
1959
27 July
1960
Conservative
Quintin Hogg
MP for St Marylebone
27 July
1960
16 October
1964
Conservative
Douglas-Home
Herbert Bowden
MP for Leicester South West
16 October
1964
11 August
1966
Labour Wilson
(I & II)
Richard Crossman
MP for Coventry East
11 August
1966
18 October
1968
Labour
Fred Peart
MP for Workington
18 October
1968
19 June
1970
Labour
William Whitelaw
MP for Penrith and The Border
20 June
1970
7 April
1972
Conservative Heath
Robert Carr
MP for Mitcham
7 April
1972
5 November
1972
Conservative
Jim Prior
MP for Lowestoft
5 November
1972
4 March
1974
Conservative
Edward Short
MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central
5 March
1974
8 April
1976
Labour Wilson
(III & IV)
Michael Foot
MP for Ebbw Vale
8 April
1976
4 May
1979
Labour Callaghan
Christopher Soames
Baron Soames
5 May
1979
14 September
1981
Conservative Thatcher I
Francis Pym
MP for Cambridgeshire
14 September
1981
7 April
1982
Conservative
John Biffen
MP for Oswestry
7 April
1982
11 June
1983
Conservative
William Whitelaw
1st Viscount Whitelaw
11 June
1983
10 January
1988
Conservative Thatcher II
Thatcher III
John Wakeham
MP for South Colchester and Maldon
10 January
1988
24 July
1989
Conservative
Geoffrey Howe
MP for East Surrey
24 July
1989
1 November
1990
Conservative
John MacGregor
MP for South Norfolk
2 November
1990
10 April
1992
Conservative
Major I
Tony Newton
MP for Braintree
10 April
1992
2 May
1997
Conservative Major II
Ann Taylor
MP for Dewsbury
2 May
1997
27 July
1998
Labour Blair I
Margaret Beckett
MP for Derby South
27 July
1998
8 June
2001
Labour
Robin Cook
MP for Livingston
8 June
2001
18 March
2003
Labour Blair II
John Reid
MP for Hamilton North and Bellshill
4 April
2003
13 June
2003
Labour
Gareth Williams
Baron Williams of Mostyn
13 June
2003
20 September
2003
Labour
Valerie Amos
Baroness Amos

(born 1954)
6 October
2003
27 June
2007
Labour
Blair III
Catherine Ashton
Baroness Ashton of Upholland

(born 1956)
28 June
2007
3 October
2008
Labour Brown
Janet Royall
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon

(born 1955)
3 October
2008
5 June
2009
Labour
Peter Mandelson
Baron Mandelson

(born 1953)
5 June
2009
11 May
2010
Labour
Nick Clegg
MP for Sheffield Hallam
11 May
2010
8 May
2015
Liberal Democrat Cameron–Clegg
(Con.Lib.Dem.)
Chris Grayling
MP for Epsom and Ewell
9 May
2015
14 July
2016
Conservative Cameron II
David Lidington
MP for Aylesbury
14 July
2016
11 June
2017
Conservative May I
Andrea Leadsom
MP for South Northamptonshire
11 June
2017
22 May
2019
Conservative May II
Mel Stride
MP for Central Devon
23 May
2019
24 July
2019
Conservative
Jacob Rees-Mogg
MP for North East Somerset
24 July
2019
8 February
2022
Conservative Johnson I
Johnson II
Mark Spencer
MP for Sherwood
8 February
2022
6 September
2022
Conservative
Penny Mordaunt
MP for Portsmouth North
6 September
2022
Incumbent Conservative Truss
Charles III
Sunak
  1. ^ Marquess of Carmarthen from 1689, created Duke of Leeds in 1694
  2. ^ Served as Secretary of State for the Northern Department from February 1721
  3. ^ Served as Secretary of State for the Northern Department from November 1744
  4. ^ Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from December 1750
  5. ^ Baron Camden from 1765; created Earl Camden and Viscount Bayham in 1786
  6. ^ Lord Privy Seal until February 1798
  7. ^ Earl of Ripon and Earl de Grey from 1859; created Marquess of Ripon in 1871
  8. ^ Served Leader of the House of Lords until August 1876
  9. ^ Served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from May 1882
  10. ^ Served as Lord Privy Seal until March 1885
  11. ^ Served as Secretary of State for War from January 1886
  12. ^ Served as President of the Board of Education March 1900 – July 1902
  13. ^ Served as Leader of the House of Lords from July 1902
  14. ^ Served as Secretary of State for India March 1911– May 1911
  15. ^ Served as President of the Board of Trade from August 1916
  16. ^ MP for City of London until 1922; thereafter created Earl of Balfour and Viscount Traprain and joined the House of Lords
  17. ^ Served as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster until May 1923
  18. ^ Served as Lord Privy Seal September 1932 – December 1933
  19. ^ MP for Seaham until 1935; returned to Parliament as MP for Combined Scottish Universities in 1936
  20. ^ Served as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from February 1938
  21. ^ MP for Lewisham East until 1950; MP for Lewisham South thereafter.
  22. ^ Viscount Hailsham until 1963 when disclaimed under the Peerage Act 1963; returned to Parliament as MP for St. Marylebone in 1963
  23. ^ Served as Leader of the House of Lords until October 1963
  24. ^ Served as Minister for Science from October 1963 – April 1964
  25. ^ Served as Secretary of State for Education and Science from April 1964
  26. ^ With special responsibility for political and constitutional reform

See also


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