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In the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
there are at least six Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury, serving as a
commission Commission or commissioning may refer to: Business and contracting * Commission (remuneration), a form of payment to an agent for services rendered ** Commission (art), the purchase or the creation of a piece of art most often on behalf of another ...
for the ancient office of Treasurer of the Exchequer. The board consists of the
First Lord of the Treasury The First Lord of the Treasury is the head of the commission Commission or commissioning may refer to: Business and contracting * Commission (remuneration), a form of payment to an agent for services rendered ** Commission (art), the purchase o ...
, the
Second Lord of the Treasury The Chancellor of the Exchequer, often abbreviated to the Chancellor, is a high ranking Minister of the Crown Minister of the Crown is a formal constitutional term used in Commonwealth realms to describe a minister of the reigning sovereign ...
, and four or more junior lords to whom this title is usually applied. Strictly they are commissioners for exercising the office of Treasurer of the Exchequer of Great Britain and
Lord High Treasurer of Ireland The Lord High Treasurer of Ireland was the head of the Exchequer of Ireland, chief financial officer of the Kingdom of Ireland. The designation ''High'' was added in 1695. After the Acts of Union 1800 created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and ...
(similar to the status of the
Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty The Board of Admiralty was established in 1628 when Charles I put the office of Lord High Admiral into commission. As that position was not always occupied, the purpose was to enable management of the day-to-day operational requirements of the R ...
exercising the office of Lord High Admiral until 1964, when the Queen resumed the office). These offices (excluding Lord High Treasurer of Ireland, which went into commission in 1817) have continually been in commission since the resignation in 1714 of Charles, Duke of Shrewsbury, who was appointed to the office by
Queen Anne Queen Anne often refers to: * Anne, Queen of Great Britain (1665–1714), queen of England, Scotland and Ireland (1702–1707) and of Great Britain (1707–1714) **Queen Anne style architecture, an architectural style from her reign, and its revival ...

Queen Anne
on her deathbed. Until the 19th century, this commission made most of the economic decisions of
Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the British Isles, the List of European islands by area, largest European island, and the List of i ...

Great Britain
(
England England is a that is part of the . It shares land borders with to its west and to its north. The lies northwest of England and the to the southwest. England is separated from by the to the east and the to the south. The country cover ...

England
, before the
Act of Union 1707 The Acts of Union ( gd, Achd an Aonaidh) were two Act of Parliament, Acts of Parliament: the Union with Scotland Act 1706 passed by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act passed in 1707 by the Parliament of Scotland. They put ...
). However, starting during the 19th century, these positions became
sinecure A sinecure ( or ; from Latin ''sine'' 'without' and ''cura'' 'care') is an office, carrying a salary or otherwise generating income, that requires or involves little or no responsibility, labour, or active service. The term originated in the medi ...
positions, with the First Lord serving almost invariably as
Prime Minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpa ...
, the Second Lord invariably as
Chancellor of the Exchequer The chancellor of the Exchequer, often abbreviated to the chancellor, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and the chief executive officer of HM Treasury, Her Majesty's Treasury. As one of the four Grea ...
, and the junior lords serving as
whip A whip is a tool designed to strike humans or other animals to exert control through pain compliance Pain compliance is the use of painful stimulus to control or direct an organism. The stimulus can be manual (brute force, placing pressure on ...
s in
Parliament In modern politics and history, a parliament is a legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of ...
. As an office in commission, technically all Lords Commissioners of the Treasury are of equal rank, with their ordinal numbers connoting seniority rather than authority over their fellow Lords Commissioners. However, from at least the reign of Queen Anne, ''de facto'' power has rested with the top-numbered Lords. It is commonly thought that the Lords Commissioners of HM Treasury serve as commissioners for exercising the office of
Lord High Treasurer The post of Lord High Treasurer or Lord Treasurer was an English government position and has been a British government position since the Acts of Union of 1707. A holder of the post would be the third-highest-ranked Great Officers of State (Un ...
, however this is not true.


Current officeholders

The current Lords Commissioners of the Treasury were appointed by Commission dated 16th November 2021. Seniority is determined by the order in which the names of the Lords Commissioners appear in the Commission.


Relationship with Ministers of HM Treasury

Of all the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, typically the only one who actually works in
HM Treasury Her Majesty's Treasury (HM Treasury), sometimes referred to as the Exchequer, or more informally the Treasury, is the department of the Government of the United Kingdom responsible for developing and executing the government's public finance ...
is the Second Lord, as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Since the formation of the office of Prime Minister (including in the case of
Sir Robert Walpole Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, (26 August 1676 – 18 March 1745; known between 1725 and 1742 as Sir Robert Walpole) was a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people The British people, or Brit ...
as the inaugural holder), it has been typical for the incumbent to assume also the position of First Lord of the Treasury. None of the other Lords of the Treasury work for the Treasury in a substantive sense. Rather they are government whips, given nominal positions in the Treasury to enable them to be suitably remunerated for facilitating the function of
Her Majesty's Government ga, Rialtas na Ríochta Aontaithe sco, Govrenment o the Unitit Kinrick , image = HM Government logo.svg , image_size=220px, date_established = , state = United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, comm ...
. The Commission of the Treasurer of the Exchequer is suitably flexible for the government's whip operation because it has no fixed number of (office-) holders. However, the
Chief Whip The Chief Whip is a political leader whose task is to ensure the Whip (politics), whipping system that tries to ensure that members of the Political party, party attend and vote as the party leadership desires. United Kingdom In Politics of ...
is not personally a Lord of the Treasury; instead having the similar, but discrete, position of
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury is a senior ministerial position in the British Government The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred to as Her Majesty's Government, is the central government of the United Kingdo ...
, which is also a sinecure used to procure paid membership among the members of the Government. The Lords of the Treasury nominally head HM Treasury. They do so by virtue of office and as a matter of law, acting in the office of Treasurer of the Exchequer. The Chancellor does so in reality, consulting the Prime Minister and delegating parliamentary-level work to the other ministers in the Treasury, none of whom are Lords of the Treasury, who negotiate and formulate the rest of Treasury business. These junior ministerial positions are, in descending order of rank: *
Chief Secretary to the Treasury The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (CST) is the third most senior ministerial office in HM Treasury, after the First Lord of the Treasury (though this office is only nominal and held by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister, who ...
(effectively a
Cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transparent glass sheets or transparent polycarbonate sheets * Filing ...
member, as the incumbent always has the right to attend meetings if not a full, statutory member) *
Paymaster General Her Majesty's Paymaster General or HM Paymaster General is a ministerial position in the Cabinet Office of the United Kingdom. The incumbent Paymaster General is Michael Ellis (British politician), Michael Ellis MP. History The post was crea ...
(sometimes a Cabinet position) *
Financial Secretary to the Treasury Financial Secretary to the Treasury is a mid-level ministerial post in the HM Treasury, British Treasury. It is the fifth most significant ministerial role within the Treasury after the First Lord of the Treasury, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, ...
(often paired with the Paymaster Generalship) * Economic Secretary to the Treasury *
Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury is a junior ministerial post in the British Treasury, ranked below the First Lord of the Treasury The First Lord of the Treasury is the head of the commission Commission or commissioning may refer to: ...
*
Commercial Secretary to the Treasury The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury is a United Kingdom Government The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred to as Her Majesty's Government, is the central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Norther ...


Relationship between the First and Second Lords

Historically, the Chancellor of the Exchequer was also the First Lord of the Treasury, and usually by extension Prime Minister as well. However the increasing sophistication of government spending led to the development of the chancellorship into a more refined position of finance minister, and so gradually particularised the office in a way less suitable for headship of the ministry overall. The last Chancellor-Prime Minister was
Stanley Baldwin Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, (3 August 186714 December 1947) was a British Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and ...
in 1923, and then only very briefly – the last substantive overlap was
William Gladstone William Ewart Gladstone (; 29 December 1809 – 19 May 1898) was a British statesman and Liberal Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by country *an a ...
in 1880–1882. A more immediately significant trend though was the rebalancing of the powers of the Houses of Parliament in favour of the lower house. From the
Glorious Revolution The Glorious Revolution of November 1688 ( ga, An Réabhlóid Ghlórmhar; gd, Rèabhlaid Ghlòrmhor; cy, Chwyldro Gogoneddus), the invasion also known as the ''Glorieuze Overtocht'' or Glorious Crossing by the Dutch, was the deposition of ...
and onwards it had become increasingly constitutionally untenable for the person setting fiscal policy (i.e. the Chancellor) to reside in the
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
, a principle which was embedded permanently in the
constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...
from 1718 with the resignation of Lord Stanhope (note this excepts the brief tenures of certain Lord Chief Justices, who historically assumed the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer ''pro tempore'' during vacancies, and who were often peers). That notwithstanding, the constitutional convention mandating that the Prime Minister reside in the Commons became embedded much later, with a Prime Minister serving without difficulty from the Lords as late as 1902 (
Lord Home Earl of Home ( ) is a title in the Peerage of Scotland. It was created in 1605 for Alexander Home wikt:of that ilk, of that Ilk, 6th Lord Home. The Earl of Home holds, among others, the subsidiary titles of Lord Home (created 1473), and Lord Dun ...
, though the last peer-Prime Minister, felt compelled to renounce his peerage, so the principle had been entrenched before his assumption of office). Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Prime Ministers would continue to be drawn regularly from the upper house. In circumstances where the Prime Minister was a peer it was felt appropriate for the head of the ministry overall to take the
primus inter pares ''Primus inter pares'' is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power ...
position on the commission as First Lord, even if through constitutional convention he couldn't serve as the Chancellor, who was otherwise First Lord by virtue of his office. The First Lordship's linkage with the Prime Ministership was particularly strong because all Prime Ministers up to
Lord Salisbury Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (; 3 February 183022 August 1903) was a British statesman and Conservative Conservatism is a Political philosophy, political and social philosophy promoting traditional soci ...

Lord Salisbury
, apart from
Lord Chatham William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, (15 November 170811 May 1778) was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1766 to 1768. Historians call him Pitt of Chatham, or William Pitt the Elder, to distinguish him from his son, William Pitt the Younger, ...
, had been First Lords. Accordingly, in circumstances where the Prime Minister was a peer, the Chancellor assumed the Second Lordship. The coagulation of this principle occurred in 1841 with the instalment of the
Second Peel ministry The second Peel ministry was formed by Sir Robert Peel in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state that existed between 1801 and 1922. It was established by the A ...
. Being a viscount,
Lord Melbourne William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, (15 March 177924 November 1848), in some sources called Henry William Lamb, was a British Whig The Whigs were a political faction Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated ...
(the outgoing Prime Minister) had not been able to be Chancellor as well, but nevertheless assumed the First Lordship pursuant to his premiership in the usual way for premiers from the peerage. However when
Sir Robert Peel Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet, (5 February 1788 – 2 July 1850) was a British Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (socio ...

Sir Robert Peel
returned to office for his non-consecutive second term he elected to be First Lord of Treasury, a title he had naturally assumed in his first ministry wherein he had also served as Chancellor. But despite being a Member of Parliament, this time Peel did not assume the chancellorship. Thus the Chancellor,
Henry Goulburn Henry Goulburn PC FRS (19 March 1784 – 12 January 1856) was a British Conservative Conservatism is a Political philosophy, political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions. The central tenets of conservatism may ...
, became the first Chancellor to be Second Lord of the Treasury whilst the First Lord was also in the Commons. From that point onwards, the Second Lordship, save when the Prime Minister co-serves as Chancellor exceptionally, been permanently vested in the Chancellorship of the Exchequer.


Relationship between the First Lord of the Treasury and the Prime Minister

Since the evolution of the position, the Prime Minister has also served as First Lord of the Treasury in all but two cases. The initial linkage of the two offices is not surprising, since at the formation of the office the First Lord of the Treasury did indeed take part in running the Treasury, and as First Lord was the most senior person so tasked. Since control of money usually granted most power, it is not surprising that such a person would head the government as a whole. Indeed even after decades of the emergence of the Prime Ministership
William Pitt the Younger William Pitt the Younger (28 May 175923 January 1806) was a prominent Tory A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the st ...

William Pitt the Younger
proferred that the Prime Minister "ought to be the person at the head of the finances." The two exceptions were
Lord Chatham William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, (15 November 170811 May 1778) was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1766 to 1768. Historians call him Pitt of Chatham, or William Pitt the Elder, to distinguish him from his son, William Pitt the Younger, ...
and Lord Salisbury. During Chatham's ministry of 1766–68 he occupied the office of Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal instead. Lord Salisbury became First Lord neither during his first term (1885–1886) nor his third (1895–1902), though he did become First Lord for the first two years of his second ministry (1886–1892). Since Salisbury, the two roles have become completely concomitant, so much so that the Prime Minister's official residence,
10 Downing Street 10 Downing Street in London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ...

10 Downing Street
, is in fact the official residence of the First Lord of the Treasury, which title is named on the letter box. Salisbury, as a marquess of vast independent wealth,Andrew Roberts, ''Salisbury: Victorian Titan'' (2000) had no use of an official residence, instead living in his grander
town house A townhouse, townhome, town house, or town home, is a type of terraced housing. A modern townhouse is often one with a small footprint on multiple floors. In a different British usage, the term originally referred to any type of city residence ...

town house
at 20 Arlington Street in
St James's St James's is a central district in the City of Westminster, London, forming part of the West End. In the 17th century the area developed as a residential location for the British aristocracy, and around the 19th century was the focus of the d ...
, and could instead bestow it as a perquisite to other ministers, along with the First Lordship itself. Other positions have been linked to the Prime Ministership as well. Continuously since 1968, when the position was created by
Harold Wilson James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, (11 March 1916 – 24 May 1995) was a British politician who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Harold Wilson
, the Prime Minister has also served as
Minister for the Civil Service In the Government of the United Kingdom, the minister for the civil service is responsible for regulations regarding Her Majesty's Civil Service, the role of which is to assist the governments of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of G ...
. The adoption of this additional position was directly linked to reforms to HM Treasury, being created when responsibilities for the pay and management of the civil service was transferred from the Treasury to a new Civil Service Department. Since the Prime Minister was a Lord Commissioner of the Treasury, prior to the reform he had had ''ex officio'' oversight of these portfolios, but it was felt more proper for the civil service to be held outside of a particularised department. Nevertheless in recognition of the primary authority of the Prime Minister over the Civil Service, it is a constitutional convention that the Ministry would always be held by the Prime Minister. Though the Civil Service Department was abolished by
Margaret Thatcher Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher (; 13 October 19258 April 2013), was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either ...

Margaret Thatcher
in 1982, the title was retained.Anthony Sampson, ''The Changing Anatomy of Britain'' (1982) Whereas the First Lordship of the Treasury has been a complete sinecure for some time, the functions of the Minister for the Civil Service have at times required the Prime Minister to discharge policy and be held accountable for it. For instance, it was occupying this role which saw the Prime Minister sued for her policies in ''
Council of Civil Service Unions v Minister for the Civil Service ''Council of Civil Service Unions v Minister for the Civil Service'' 984UKHL 9 or the GCHQ case, is a United Kingdom constitutional law and UK labour law case that held the Royal prerogative in the United Kingdom, royal prerogative was subject to J ...
''. Other offices have historically been linked to the Prime Ministership but are no longer. Until
Clement Attlee Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee, (3 January 18838 October 1967) was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head o ...

Clement Attlee
became Prime Minister, the vast majority of premiers had served as either
Leader of the House of Commons The Leader of the House of Commons is generally a member or attendee of the cabinet of the United Kingdom. The House of Commons devotes approximately three-quarters of its time to debating and explaining government business, such as Bill (law), b ...
or
Leader of the House of Lords The Leader of the House of Lords is a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom The Cabinet of the United Kingdom is a group of the most senior ministers of the crown in the government of the United Kingdom. A committee of the Privy C ...
depending on the chamber in which they sat. As the power of the executive swelled, the need to have a legislative-oriented office receded. In 1942 during the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Winston Churchill
had made himself Minister of Defence, a title Prime Ministers would hold for thirteen years thereafter, but with the decline of defence as an urgent policy area this was abandoned by Sir Anthony Eden when he came to office in 1955.
Boris Johnson Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (; born 19 June 1964) is a British politician and writer serving as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of govern ...

Boris Johnson
holds the position of
Minister for the Union The Minister for the Union is a position created by Boris Johnson Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (; born 19 June 1964) is a British politician and writer serving as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservativ ...
, which he created to display his commitment to strengthening the bond of the four nations of the United Kingdom. He is the only Prime Minister, and indeed person, to have held this role. Accordingly, the First Lord of the Treasury is the title most associated with the Prime Ministership. Seven Prime Ministers saw fit to occupy the post of First Lord of the Treasury only, and held no other subsidiary office. Those Prime Ministers were Lord Rockingham (1782), Lord Portland (1807–1809),
David Lloyd George David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) was a British statesman and Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinat ...

David Lloyd George
(1916–1922), Sir Anthony Eden (1955–57),
Harold Macmillan Maurice Harold Macmillan, 1st Earl of Stockton, (10 February 1894 – 29 December 1986) was a British Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nat ...

Harold Macmillan
(1957–1963),
Sir Alec Douglas-Home Alexander Frederick Douglas-Home, Baron Home of the Hirsel, (; 2 July 1903 – 9 October 1995) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government i ...
(1963–1964), and Harold Wilson (1964–1968, at which point he also became Minister for the Civil Service).


See also

*
Secretary to the Treasury In the United Kingdom, there are several Secretaries to the Treasury, who are Treasury ministers nominally acting as secretaries to HM Treasury. The origins of the office are unclear, although it probably originated during Lord Burghley's tenure a ...
*
HM Treasury Her Majesty's Treasury (HM Treasury), sometimes referred to as the Exchequer, or more informally the Treasury, is the department of the Government of the United Kingdom responsible for developing and executing the government's public finance ...
* List of British ministries * List of Lord Treasurers includes a list of former Lords Commissioners of the Treasury until 1714. *
List of Lords Commissioners of the Treasury This is a list of Lord High Treasurer, Lords Commissioners of the Treasury of Kingdom of Great Britain, Great Britain. In modern times, the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury are the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister (who is als ...
since 1714


References


'Treasurers and Commissioners of the Treasury 1660—1870', ''Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 1: Treasury Officials 1660–1870'' (1972), pp. 16–25
{{DEFAULTSORT:Lord Of The Treasury Ceremonial officers in the United Kingdom Ministerial offices in the United Kingdom 1714 establishments in Great Britain