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The Leader of the House of Commons is a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom who is responsible for arranging government business in the House of Commonsmarker. Although at one time the position was usually held by the Prime Minister, in recent years, the post has usually been combined with that of Lord President of the Council (i.e. of the Privy Council); from 2003 it has been combined instead with the office of Lord Privy Seal.

Harriet Harman was appointed Leader of the House of Commons by the Prime Minister Gordon Brown on June 28, 2007, following on from her cousins Austen Chamberlain (1921-22) and Neville Chamberlain (1937-1940).

The House of Commons devotes approximately three quarters of its time to "Government business" such as bills introduced by the government and ministerial statements. The Leader of the House is responsible for organizing the use of this time, and making regular announcements to the House as to what business the government will put before it. When there is no Deputy Prime Minister, or the Deputy Prime Minister is unavailable, the Leader of the House may stand in for an absent Prime Minister at Prime Minister's Questions (as the current Leader, Harriet Harman, did on 17 December 2008 and the 8 July 2009).

Jointly administered by the Office of the Leader of the House of Commons and the Cabinet Officemarker are the Osmotherly Rules, which set out guidance on how civil servants should respond to Parliamentary select committees.

Robin Cook was appointed as Leader of the House after the 2001 UK general election. He resigned from the post on 17 March 2003, as he could not accept the government's position on military action against Iraqmarker. During his period in office he chaired the Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons, which proposed significant reforms of the sitting hours of the House.

Leaders of the House of Commons since 1721

At times the nominal leadership was held by the Prime Minister but the day to day work was done by a Deputy. At other times a Deputy was appointed merely to enhance an individual politician's standing within the government.

18th century

Name Portrait Entered office Left office Offices held in conjunction
Robert Walpole 1721 1742 Prime Minister
and Chancellor of the Exchequer
Samuel Sandys 1742 1743 Chancellor of the Exchequer
Henry Pelham 1743 1754 Prime Minister
and Chancellor of the Exchequer
Thomas Robinson 1754 1755 Secretary of State for the Southern Department
Henry Fox 1755 1756 Secretary of State for the Southern Department
William Pitt the Elder 1756 1757 Secretary of State for the Southern Department
Vacant (Caretaker Ministry) 1757 1757
William Pitt the Elder 1757 1761 Secretary of State for the Southern Department
George Grenville 1761 1762 Treasurer of the Navy
Henry Fox 1762 1763 Paymaster of the Forces
George Grenville 1763 1765 Prime Minister
and Chancellor of the Exchequer
Henry Seymour Conway 1765 1768 Secretary of State for the Southern Department
Lord North 1768 1782 Chancellor of the Exchequer 1768-1782
Prime Minister 1770-1782
Charles James Fox 1782 1782 Foreign Secretary
Thomas Townshend 1782 1783 Home Secretary
Charles James Fox
(pictured)
and Lord North

1783 1783 Home Secretary (North)
Foreign Secretary (Fox)
William Pitt the Younger 1783 1801 Prime Minister


19th century

Name Portrait Entered office Left office Offices held in conjunction
Henry Addington 1801 1804 Prime Minister
William Pitt the Younger 1804 1806 Prime Minister
Charles James Fox 1806 1806 Foreign Secretary
Viscount Howick 1806 1807 Foreign Secretary
Spencer Perceval 1807 1812 Chancellor of the Exchequer 1807-1812
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 1807-1812
Prime Minister 1809-1812

Viscount Castlereagh 1812 1822 Foreign Secretary
George Canning 1822 1827 Foreign Secretary 1822-1827
Prime Minister 1827
William Huskisson 1827 1828 War and Colonial Secretary
Robert Peel 1828 1830 Home Secretary
Viscount Althorp 1830 1834 Chancellor of the Exchequer
Sir Robert Peel, Bt 1834 1835 Prime Minister
Lord John Russell 1835 1841 Home Secretary 18 April 1835-30 August 1839
War and Colonial Secretary 30 August 1839-30 August 1841
Sir Robert Peel, Bt 1841 1846 Prime Minister
Lord John Russell 1846 1852 Prime Minister
Benjamin Disraeli 1852 1852 Chancellor of the Exchequer
Lord John Russell 1852 1855 Foreign Secretary 28 December 1852-21 February 1853
Minister without Portfolio 26 February 1853-8 June 1854
Lord President of the Council 12 June 1854-30 January 1855

The Viscount Palmerston 1855 1858 Prime Minister
Benjamin Disraeli 1858 1859 Chancellor of the Exchequer
The Viscount Palmerston 1859 1865 Prime Minister
William Gladstone 1865 1866 Chancellor of the Exchequer
Benjamin Disraeli 1866 1868 Chancellor of the Exchequer 6 July 1866-27 February 1868
Prime Minister 27 February 1868-1 December 1868
William Gladstone 1868 1874 Prime Minister
Benjamin Disraeli 1874 1876 Prime Minister
Sir Stafford Northcote, Bt 1876 1880 Chancellor of the Exchequer
William Gladstone 1880 1885 Prime Minister
Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, Bt 1885 1886 Chancellor of the Exchequer
William Gladstone 1886 1886 Prime Minister
Lord Randolph Churchill 1886 1887 Chancellor of the Exchequer
W. H. Smith 1887 1891 First Lord of the Treasury
Arthur Balfour 1891 1892 First Lord of the Treasury
William Gladstone 1892 1894 Prime Minister
Sir William Vernon Harcourt 1894 1895 Chancellor of the Exchequer
Arthur Balfour 1895 1905 First Lord of the Treasury 29 June 1895-4 December 1905
Prime Minister 12 July 1902-4 December 1905
Lord Privy Seal 14 July 1902-17 October 1903



20th century

Name Portrait Entered office Left office Offices held in conjunction Political Party
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman 5 December 1905 5 April 1908 Prime Minister Liberal
H. H. Asquith 5 April 1908 5 December 1916 Prime Minister 5 April 1908-5 December 1916
War Secretary 30 March 1914-5 August 1914
Liberal
(Coalition government
25 May 1915-5 December 1916)

Andrew Bonar Law 10 December 1916 23 March 1921 Chancellor of the Exchequer 10 December 1916-10 January 1919
Lord Privy Seal 10 January 1919-23 March 1921
Conservative
(Coalition government)
Austen Chamberlain 23 March 1921 19 October 1922 Lord Privy Seal Conservative
(Coalition government)
Andrew Bonar Law 23 October 1922 20 May 1923 Prime Minister Conservative
Stanley Baldwin 22 May 1923 22 January 1924 Prime Minister 22 May 1923-22 January 1924
Chancellor of the Exchequer 22 May 1923-27 August 1923
Conservative
Ramsay MacDonald
Deputy: J.

R.

Clynes
22 January 1924 3 November 1924 Prime Minister
Foreign Secretary
Labour
Stanley Baldwin
Deputy: Austen Chamberlain
4 November 1924 4 June 1929 Prime Minister Conservative
Ramsay MacDonald 5 June 1929 7 June 1935 Prime Minister Labour
(National Government
24 August 1931-7 June 1935)

Stanley Baldwin
Deputy: Sir John Simon
7 June 1935 28 May 1937 Prime Minister Conservative
(National Government)
Neville Chamberlain 28 May 1937 10 May 1940 Prime Minister Conservative
(National Government)
Winston Churchill
Deputy: Clement Attlee
10 May 1940 19 February 1942 Prime Minister
Minister of Defence
Conservative
(Coalition government)
Sir Stafford Cripps 19 February 1942 22 November 1942 Lord Privy Seal Labour
(Coalition government)
Anthony Eden 22 February 1942 26 July 1945 Foreign Secretary Conservative
(Coalition government
12 February 1942-22 May 1945)

Herbert Morrison 27 July 1945 9 March 1951 Lord President of the Council Labour
James Chuter Ede 9 March 1951 26 October 1951 Home Secretary Labour
Harry Crookshank 1951 20 December 1955 Minister of Health 30 October 1951-7 May 1952
Lord Privy Seal 7 May 1952-20 December 1955
Conservative
R. A. Butler 20 December 1955 9 October 1961 Lord Privy Seal 20 December 1955-14 October 1959
Home Secretary 13 January 1957-9 October 1961
Conservative
Iain Macleod 9 October 1961 20 October 1963 Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Conservative
Selwyn Lloyd 20 October 1963 16 October 1964 Lord Privy Seal Conservative
Herbert Bowden 16 October 1964 11 August 1966 Lord President of the Council Labour
Richard Crossman 11 August 1966 18 October 1968 Lord President of the Council Labour
Fred Peart 18 October 1968 19 June 1970 Lord President of the Council Labour
William Whitelaw 20 June 1970 7 April 1972 Lord President of the Council Conservative
Robert Carr 7 April 1972 5 November 1972 Lord President of the Council Conservative
James Prior 5 November 1972 4 March 1974 Lord President of the Council Conservative
Edward Short 5 March 1974 8 April 1976 Lord President of the Council Labour
Michael Foot 8 April 1976 4 May 1979 Lord President of the Council Labour
Norman St John-Stevas 5 May 1979 5 January 1981 Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Minister for the Arts
Conservative
Francis Pym 5 January 1981 5 April 1982 Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 5 January 1981-14 September 1981
Lord President of the Council 14 September 1981-5 April 1982
Conservative
John Biffen 5 April 1982 13 June 1987 Lord President of the Council 5 April 1982-11 June 1983
Lord Privy Seal 11 June 1983-13 June 1987
Conservative
John Wakeham 13 June 1987 24 July 1989 Lord Privy Seal 13 June 1987-10 January 1988
Lord President of the Council 10 January 1988-24 July 1989
Conservative
Sir Geoffrey Howe 24 July 1989 2 November 1990 Lord President of the Council
and Deputy Prime Minister
Conservative
John MacGregor 2 November 1990 10 April 1992 Lord President of the Council Conservative
Tony Newton 1992 1997 Lord President of the Council Conservative
Ann Taylor 1997 1998 Lord President of the Council Labour
Margaret Beckett 1998 2001 Lord President of the Council Labour


21st century

Name Portrait Entered office Left office Offices held in conjunction Political Party
Robin Cook 2001 2003 Lord President of the Council Labour
John Reid 2003 2003 Lord President of the Council Labour
Peter Hain 2003 2005 Lord Privy Seal Labour
Geoff Hoon 2005 2006 Lord Privy Seal Labour
Jack Straw 2006 2007 Lord Privy Seal Labour
Harriet Harman 2007 present Lord Privy Seal
Minister for Women and Equality
Labour


See also



External links



References

  1. Engagements: 2 Apr 2008: House of Commons debates



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