- Lord High Treasurer
The post of Lord High Treasurer or Lord Treasurer is an old English (after
1707, British) government position. The holder of the post is third highest of the Great Officers of State, ranking below the Lord High Chancellorand above the Lord President of the Council. The Lord High Treasurer functions as the head of Her Majesty's Treasury.
Since the 17th century the office has been often held not by a single person but by a board of several individuals known as Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, a practice that become permanent after the resignation of
Charles Talbot, 1st Duke of Shrewsburyin 1714.
In modern times, by convention, the Prime Minister serves as the "First Lord of the Treasury," and the
Chancellor of the Exchequerserves as the "Second Lord of the Treasury." Other members of the Government (usually whips in the House of Commons) are appointed to serve as the junior Lords Commissioner.
The English Treasury seems to have come into existence around
1126, during the reign of Henry I, as the financial responsibilities were separated from the rest of the job that evolved into Lord Great Chamberlain. The Treasury was originally a section of the Royal Household with custody of the King's money. In 1216, a Treasurer was appointed to take control of the Treasury in Winchester. The Treasurer was also an officer of the Exchequer, and supervised the royal accounts. By Tudor times, the Lord High Treasurer had achieved a place among the Great Officers of State, behind the Lord Chancellorand above the Master of the Horse.
During the sixteenth century, the Lord High Treasurer was often considered the most important official of the government, and became a "de facto" Prime Minister. Exemplifying the power of the Lord High Treasurer is
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, who served in the post from 1572to 1598. During his tenure, he dominated the administration under Elizabeth I.
The modern commissioners
A rarely-varied system has evolved since then. Today, the
First Lord of the Treasuryis as a rule the Prime Minister, and the Second Lord of the Treasuryis the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has inherited most of the functional financial responsibilities.
The next highest ranking commissioners are the Secretaries to the Treasury. They are The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who is also of Cabinet rank and is the senior deputy to the Chancellor of the Exchequer; "The Financial Secretary to the Treasury", who ranks alongside Ministers of State; the
Exchequer Secretary to the Treasuryand the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, who rank alongside Parliamentary Under-Secretaries; the "Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury" who doesn't actually have any responsibilities in the Treasury but is instead the Government Chief Whipin the House of Commons and finally the " Permanent Secretaryto the Treasury" who must be distinguished from the other secretaries, as he is not a politician but the department's senior civil servant, considered second in rank among all civil servants to the Secretary to the Cabinet.
After the secretaries rank the "Junior Lords of the Treasury" who, though theoretically members of the Treasury Board, in practice serve as Government Whips under the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Chief Whip).
List of Lord High Treasurers
List of Lords Commissioners of the Treasury
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