- Chancellor of the Exchequer
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Arms of Her Majesty's Government
Her Majesty's Treasury
Style The Right Honourable Residence 11 Downing Street
London, England, United Kingdom
Appointer The Prime Minister Inaugural holder Hervey de Stanton
Formation 22 June 1316 United Kingdom
This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
the United Kingdom
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is the title held by the British Cabinet minister who is responsible for all economic and financial matters. Often simply called the Chancellor, the office-holder controls HM Treasury and plays a role akin to the posts of Minister of Finance or Secretary of the Treasury in other nations. The position is considered one of the four Great Offices of State and in recent times has come to be the most powerful office in British politics after the Prime Minister. It is the only office of the four Great Offices not to have been occupied by a woman.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is now always Second Lord of the Treasury as one of the Lords Commissioners for executing the office of Lord High Treasurer. In the 18th and early 19th centuries it was common for the Prime Minister to also serve as Chancellor of the Exchequer if he sat in the Commons; the last Chancellor who was simultaneously Prime Minister & Chancellor of the Exchequer was Stanley Baldwin in 1923. Formerly, in cases when the Chancellorship was vacant, the Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench would act as Chancellor pro tempore. The last Lord Chief Justice to serve in this way was Lord Denman in 1834.
The Chancellor is the third-oldest major state office in English and British history, one which originally carried responsibility for the Exchequer, the medieval English institution for the collection of royal revenues, The Exchequer dates from the time of Henry I. The Chancellor controlled monetary policy as well as fiscal policy until 1997, when the Bank of England was granted independent control of its interest rates. The Chancellor also has oversight of public spending across Government departments.
The office should not be confused with those of the Lord Chancellor or the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, both Cabinet posts, the Chancellor of the High Court, a senior judge, or the Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, a defunct judicial office.
The current Chancellor of the Exchequer is George Osborne.
Roles and responsibilities
A previous Chancellor, Robert Lowe, described the office in the following terms in the House of Commons, on 11 April 1870: "The Chancellor of the Exchequer is a man whose duties make him more or less of a taxing machine. He is entrusted with a certain amount of misery which it is his duty to distribute as fairly as he can."
The Chancellor has considerable control over other departments as it is the Treasury which sets departmental expenditure limits. The amount of power this gives to an individual Chancellor depends on his personal forcefulness, his status with his party and his relationship with the Prime Minister. Gordon Brown, who became Chancellor when Labour came into Government in 1997, had a large personal power base in the party. Perhaps as a result, Tony Blair chose to keep him in his job throughout his ten years as Prime Minister; making Brown an unusually dominant figure and the longest serving Chancellor since the Reform Act of 1832. This situation has strengthened a pre-existing trend towards the Chancellorship moving into a clear second among government offices, elevated above its traditional peers, the Foreign Secretaryship and Home Secretaryship.
One part of the Chancellor's key roles involves the framing of the annual Budget, which is summarised in a speech to the House of Commons. Traditionally the budget speech was delivered on Budget Day, a Tuesday (although not always) in March, as Britain's tax year follows the Julian Calendar. From 1993, the Budget was preceded by an annual 'Autumn Statement', now called the Pre-Budget Report, which forecasts government spending in the next year and usually takes place in November or December. This preview of the next year's Budget is also referred to as the "mini-Budget". The 1997, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008 Budgets were all delivered on a Wednesday.
Although the Bank of England is responsible for setting interest rates, the Chancellor also plays an important part in the monetary policy structure. He sets the inflation target which the Bank must set interest rates to meet. Under the Bank of England Act 1998 the Chancellor has the power of appointment of four out of nine members of the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee - the so-called 'external' members. He also has a high level of influence over the appointment of the Bank's Governor and Deputy Governors, and has the right of consultation over the appointment of the two remaining MPC members from within the Bank. The Act also provides that the Government has the power to give instructions to the Bank on interest rates for a limited period in extreme circumstances. This power has never been used.
At HM Treasury the Chancellor is supported by a political team of four junior ministers and by permanent civil servants. The most important junior minister is the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, a member of the Cabinet, to whom the negotiations with other government departments on the details of government spending are delegated, followed by the Paymaster General, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and the Economic Secretary to the Treasury. Two other officials are given the title of a Secretary to the Treasury, although neither is a government minister in the Treasury: the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury is the Government Chief Whip in the House of Commons; the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury is not a minister but the senior civil servant in the Treasury.
The holder of the office of Chancellor is ex-officio Second Lord of the Treasury. As Second Lord, his official residence is Number 11 Downing Street in London, next door to the residence of the First Lord of the Treasury (a post usually, though not always, held by the Prime Minister), who resides in 10 Downing Street. While in the past both houses were private residences, today they serve as interlinked offices, with the occupant living in a small apartment made from attic rooms previously resided in by servants.
The Chancellor is obliged to be a member of the Privy Council, and thus is styled the Right Honourable (Rt. Hon.). Because the House of Lords is excluded from Finance bills, the office is effectively limited to members of the House of Commons.
Perquisites of office
The Chancellor's official residence is No. 11 Downing Street. In 1997, the then First and Second Lords, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown respectively, swapped apartments, as the Chancellor's apartment in No. 11 was bigger and thus better suited to the needs of Blair (who had children) than Brown who was at that stage unmarried. So although No. 11 was still officially Brown's residence, he actually resided in the apartment in the attic of No. 10, and Blair — although officially residing in No. 10 — actually lived in the attic apartment of No. 11.
Dorneywood is the summer residence that is traditionally made available to the Chancellor, though it is the Prime Minister who ultimately decides who may use it. Gordon Brown, on becoming Chancellor in 1997, refused to use it and the house, which is set in 215 acres (87 ha) of parkland, was allocated to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. It reverted to the Chancellor in 2007, then Alistair Darling.
The Chancellor traditionally carries his Budget speech to the House of Commons in a particular red briefcase. The Chancellor's red briefcase is identical to the briefcases used by all other government ministers (known as ministerial boxes or "red boxes") to transport their official papers but is better known because the Chancellor traditionally displays the briefcase, containing the Budget speech, to the press in the morning before delivering the speech.
The original Budget briefcase was first used by William Ewart Gladstone in 1860 and continued in use until 1965 when James Callaghan was the first Chancellor to break with tradition when he used a newer box. Prior to Gladstone, a generic red briefcase of varying design and specification was used. The practice is said to have begun in the late 16th century, when Queen Elizabeth I's representative Francis Throckmorton presented the Spanish Ambassador, Bernardino de Mendoza, with a specially constructed red briefcase filled with black puddings.
In July 1997, Gordon Brown became the second Chancellor to use a new box for the Budget. Made by industrial trainees at Babcock Rosyth Defence Ltd ship and submarine dockyard in Fife, the new box is made of yellow pine, with a brass handle and lock, covered in scarlet leather and embossed with the Royal initials and crest and the Chancellor's title. In his first Budget, in March 2008, Alistair Darling reverted to using the original budget briefcase and his successor, George Osborne, continued this tradition for his first budget, before announcing that it would be retired due to its fragile condition. The key to the original budget box has been lost. 
By tradition, the Chancellor has been allowed to drink whatever he or she wishes whilst making the annual Budget Speech to parliament. This includes alcohol, which is otherwise banned under parliamentary rules.
Previous Chancellors have opted for whisky (Kenneth Clarke), gin and tonic (Geoffrey Howe), brandy and water (Benjamin Disraeli), spritzer (Nigel Lawson) and sherry and beaten egg (William Gladstone).
List of Chancellors of the Exchequer
(for political parties)
Chancellors of the Exchequer of England, 1316-c. 1558
Name Portrait Took office Left office Hervey de Stanton 1316 1327 William Catesby 1483 John Bourchier, 2nd Baron Berners Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex 1533 1540
Chancellors of the Exchequer of England, c. 1558-1708
Name Portrait Took office Left office Sir John Baker c. 1558 c. 1559 Sir Richard Sackville c. 1559 1566 Sir Walter Mildmay 1566 1589 Sir John Fortescue 1589 1603 The Earl of Dunbar 1603 1606 Sir Julius Caesar 1606 1614 Sir Fulke Greville 1614 1621 Sir Richard Weston 1621 1628 The Lord Barrett of Newburgh 1628 1629 Francis Cottington, Lord Cottington from 1631 1629 1642 Sir John Colepeper MP 2 January 1642 22 February 1643  Sir Edward Hyde February 1643  1646 The Lord Ashley 13 May 1661 22 November 1672 Sir John Duncombe MP 22 November 1672 2 May 1676 Sir John Ernle MP 2 May 1676 9 April 1689 The Lord Delamere 9 April 1689 18 March 1690 Richard Hampden MP 18 March 1690 10 May 1694 Charles Montagu MP 10 May 1694 2 June 1699 John Smith MP 2 June 1699 27 March 1701 Henry Boyle MP 27 March 1701 22 April 1708
Chancellors of the Exchequer of Great Britain, 1708-1817
Name Portrait Took office Left office Political party Prime Minister Sir John Smith 22 April 1708 11 August 1710 Whig Robert Harley 11 August 1710 4 June 1711 Tory Robert Benson 4 June 1711 21 August 1713 Tory Sir William Wyndham, Bt 21 August 1713 13 October 1714 Tory Sir Richard Onslow, Bt 13 October 1714 12 October 1715 Whig Robert Walpole 12 October 1715 15 April 1717 Whig The Viscount Stanhope 15 April 1717 20 March 1718 Whig John Aislabie 20 March 1718 23 January 1721 Whig Sir John Pratt
(interim - Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench)
2 February 1721 3 April 1721 Whig Sir Robert Walpole 3 April 1721 12 February 1742 Whig Sir Robert Walpole Samuel Sandys 12 February 1742 12 December 1743 Whig The Earl of Wilmington Henry Pelham 12 December 1743 8 March 1754 Whig Henry Pelham Sir William Lee
(interim - Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench)
8 March 1754 6 April 1754 Whig The Duke of Newcastle Henry Bilson Legge 6 April 1754 25 November 1755 Whig Sir George Lyttelton, Bt 25 November 1755 16 November 1756 Whig Henry Bilson Legge 16 November 1756 13 April 1757 Whig The Duke of Devonshire The Lord Mansfield
(interim - Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench)
13 April 1757 2 July 1757 Whig The Duke of Newcastle Henry Bilson Legge 2 July 1757 19 March 1761 Whig The Viscount Barrington
(Held an Irish Peerage and sat in the House of Commons of Great Britain)
19 March 1761 29 May 1762 Whig Sir Francis Dashwood, Bt 29 May 1762 16 April 1763 Tory The Earl of Bute George Grenville 16 April 1763 16 July 1765 Whig George Grenville William Dowdeswell 16 July 1765 2 August 1766 Whig The Marquess of Rockingham Charles Townshend 2 August 1766 4 September 1767 (died) Whig The Earl of Chatham Lord North
(Held a courtesy title and sat in the Commons)
11 September 1767 27 March 1782 Tory The Duke of Grafton Lord North Lord John Cavendish 27 March 1782 10 July 1782 Whig The Marquess of Rockingham William Pitt the Younger 10 July 1782 31 March 1783 Whig The Earl of Shelburne Lord John Cavendish 2 April 1783 19 December 1783 Whig
The Duke of Portland William Pitt the Younger 19 December 1783 14 March 1801 Tory William Pitt the Younger Henry Addington 14 March 1801 10 May 1804 Tory Henry Addington William Pitt the Younger  10 May 1804 23 January 1806 (died) Tory William Pitt the Younger Lord Henry Petty 5 February 1806 26 March 1807 Whig
(Ministry of All the Talents)
Lord Grenville Spencer Perceval 26 March 1807 12 May 1812 (died) Tory The Duke of Portland Spencer Perceval Nicholas Vansittart 12 May 1812 12 July 1817 Tory Lord Liverpool
Chancellors of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom, 1817-1902
Although the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland had been united by the Act of Union 1800 (39 & 40 Geo. III c. 67), the Exchequers of the two Kingdoms were not consolidated until 1817 under 56 Geo. III c. 98. For the holders of the Irish office before this date, see Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Name Portrait Took office Left office Political party Prime Minister Nicholas Vansittart 12 July 1817 31 January 1823 Tory Lord Liverpool F. J. Robinson 31 January 1823 20 April 1827 Tory George Canning 20 April 1827 8 August 1827 (died) Tory George Canning The Lord Tenterden
(interim - Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench)
8 August 1827 3 September 1827 Tory The Viscount Goderich John Charles Herries 3 September 1827 26 January 1828 Tory Henry Goulburn 26 January 1828 22 November 1830 Tory The Duke of Wellington Viscount Althorp 22 November 1830 14 November 1834 Whig The Earl Grey The Viscount Melbourne The Lord Denman
(interim - Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench)
14 November 1834 15 December 1834 Whig
(Conservative Provisional Government)
The Duke of Wellington Sir Robert Peel, Bt 15 December 1834 8 April 1835 Conservative Sir Robert Peel, Bt Thomas Spring Rice 18 April 1835 26 August 1839 Whig The Viscount Melbourne Francis Baring 26 August 1839 30 August 1841 Whig Henry Goulburn 3 September 1841 27 June 1846 Conservative Sir Robert Peel, Bt Sir Charles Wood, Bt 6 July 1846 21 February 1852 Whig Lord John Russell Benjamin Disraeli 27 February 1852 17 December 1852 Conservative The Earl of Derby William Ewart Gladstone 28 December 1852 28 February 1855 Peelite
The Earl of Aberdeen Sir George Cornewall Lewis, Bt 28 February 1855 21 February 1858 Whig The Viscount Palmerston Benjamin Disraeli 26 February 1858 11 June 1859 Conservative The Earl of Derby William Ewart Gladstone 18 June 1859 26 June 1866 Liberal The Viscount Palmerston The Earl Russell Benjamin Disraeli 6 July 1866 29 February 1868 Conservative The Earl of Derby George Ward Hunt 29 February 1868 1 December 1868 Conservative Benjamin Disraeli Robert Lowe 9 December 1868 11 August 1873 Liberal William Ewart Gladstone William Ewart Gladstone 11 August 1873 17 February 1874 Liberal Sir Stafford Northcote, Bt 21 February 1874 21 April 1880 Conservative Benjamin Disraeli William Ewart Gladstone 28 April 1880 16 December 1882 Liberal William Ewart Gladstone Hugh Childers 16 December 1882 9 June 1885 Liberal Sir Michael Hicks Beach, Bt 24 June 1885 28 January 1886 Conservative The Marquess of Salisbury Sir William Vernon Harcourt 6 February 1886 20 July 1886 Liberal William Ewart Gladstone Lord Randolph Churchill 3 August 1886 22 December 1886 Conservative The Marquess of Salisbury George Goschen 14 January 1887 11 August 1892 Liberal Unionist Sir William Vernon Harcourt 18 August 1892 21 June 1895 Liberal William Ewart Gladstone The Earl of Rosebery Sir Michael Hicks Beach, Bt 29 June 1895 11 August 1902 Conservative The Marquess of Salisbury
Chancellors of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom, 1902 to date
Name Portrait Took office Left office Political party Prime Minister Charles Ritchie 11 August 1902 9 October 1903 Conservative Arthur Balfour Austen Chamberlain 9 October 1903 4 December 1905 Liberal Unionist H. H. Asquith 10 December 1905 12 April 1908 Liberal Henry Campbell-Bannerman David Lloyd George 12 April 1908 25 May 1915 Liberal H. H. Asquith Reginald McKenna 25 May 1915 10 December 1916 Liberal
Andrew Bonar Law 10 December 1916 10 January 1919 Conservative
David Lloyd George Austen Chamberlain 10 January 1919 1 April 1921 Sir Robert Horne 1 April 1921 19 October 1922 Stanley Baldwin 27 October 1922 27 August 1923 Conservative Andrew Bonar Law Stanley Baldwin Neville Chamberlain 27 August 1923 22 January 1924 Conservative Philip Snowden 22 January 1924 3 November 1924 Labour Ramsay MacDonald Winston Churchill 6 November 1924 4 June 1929 Conservative Stanley Baldwin Philip Snowden 7 June 1929 24 August 1931 Labour Ramsay MacDonald 24 August 1931 5 November 1931 National Labour
Neville Chamberlain 5 November 1931 28 May 1937 Conservative
Stanley Baldwin Sir John Simon 28 May 1937 12 May 1940 Liberal National
Neville Chamberlain Sir Kingsley Wood  12 May 1940 21 September 1943 (died) Conservative
Winston Churchill Sir John Anderson 24 September 1943 26 July 1945 National Independent
Hugh Dalton 27 July 1945 13 November 1947 Labour Clement Attlee Sir Stafford Cripps 13 November 1947 19 October 1950 Labour Hugh Gaitskell 19 October 1950 26 October 1951 Labour R. A. Butler 26 October 1951 20 December 1955 Conservative Sir Winston Churchill Harold Macmillan 20 December 1955 13 January 1957 Conservative Sir Anthony Eden Peter Thorneycroft 13 January 1957 6 January 1958 Conservative Harold Macmillan Derick Heathcoat-Amory 6 January 1958 27 July 1960 Conservative Selwyn Lloyd 27 July 1960 13 July 1962 Conservative Reginald Maudling 13 July 1962 16 October 1964 Conservative Sir Alec Douglas-Home James Callaghan 16 October 1964 30 November 1967 Labour Harold Wilson Roy Jenkins 30 November 1967 19 June 1970 Labour Iain Macleod 20 June 1970 20 July 1970 (died) Conservative Edward Heath Anthony Barber 25 July 1970 28 February 1974 Conservative Denis Healey 1 March 1974 4 May 1979 Labour Harold Wilson James Callaghan Sir Geoffrey Howe 4 May 1979 11 June 1983 Conservative Margaret Thatcher Nigel Lawson 11 June 1983 26 October 1989 Conservative John Major 26 October 1989 28 November 1990 Conservative Norman Lamont 28 November 1990 27 May 1993 Conservative John Major Kenneth Clarke 27 May 1993 2 May 1997 Conservative Gordon Brown 2 May 1997 27 June 2007 Labour Tony Blair Alistair Darling 28 June 2007 11 May 2010 Labour Gordon Brown George Osborne 11 May 2010 incumbent Conservative
Notes and references
- ^ Joseph Haydn, Horace Ockerby (ed.): The Book of Dignities, 3rd edition, Part III (Political and Official), p. 164. W.H. Allen & Co., London 1894, reprinted by Firecrest Publishing Ltd, Pancakes, 1969
- ^ "Gordon Brown: Encyclopedia II - Gordon Brown - Chancellor of the Exchequer". Experiencefestival.com. http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/Gordon_Brown_-_Chancellor_of_the_Exchequer/id/1434949. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- ^ "Monetary Policy | Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) | Framework". Bank of England. 1997-05-06. http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/monetarypolicy/framework.htm. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- ^ Burnham Parish Council - Local History
- ^ [dead link]
- ^ The Guardian, 11 March 2011
- ^ Alistair Darling, Back from the Brink(2011)
- ^ "UK Parliament - budget". Parliament.uk. http://www.parliament.uk/faq/budget.cfm. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- ^ Lydall, Ross. "Chancellor names his preferred Budget tipple â€" a glass of plain London tap water - The Scotsman". Thescotsman.scotsman.com. http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/politics/Chancellor--names-his-preferred.3848558.jp. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- ^ DNB
- ^ DNB
- ^ a b c d e f g h Also served as Prime Minister for some or all of their Chancellorship.
- ^ a b c d e f Died in office.
- ^ Joseph Haydn, Horace Ockerby (ed.): The Book of Dignities, 3rd edition, Part X (Ireland), p. 562. W.H. Allen & Co., London 1894, reprinted by Firecrest Publishing Ltd, Bath, 1969
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