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The Secretary of State for Defence is the senior United Kingdom government minister in charge of the Ministry of Defence, chairing the Defence Council. It is a Cabinet position.

The post was created on 1 April 1964 and replaced the previous office of Minister of Defence. The former Cabinet positions of First Lord of the Admiralty, Secretary of State for War and Secretary of State for Air (responsible for the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force respectively) were incorporated into it and the offices of the Admiralty, War Officemarker and the Air Ministry were abolished and their functions transferred to an expanded Ministry of Defence.

Secretaries of State for Defence

Name Portrait Entered office Left office Political party
Peter Thorneycroft 1 April 1964 16 October 1964 Conservative
Denis Healey 16 October 1964 19 June 1970 Labour
Peter Carington, Lord Carrington 20 June 1970 8 January 1974 Conservative
Ian Gilmour 8 January 1974 4 March 1974 Conservative
Roy Mason 5 March 1974 10 September 1976 Labour
Frederick Mulley 10 September 1976 4 May 1979 Labour
Francis Pym 5 May 1979 5 January 1981 Conservative
John Nott 5 January 1981 6 January 1983 Conservative
Michael Heseltine 6 January 1983 7 January 1986 Conservative
George Younger 9 January 1986 24 July 1989 Conservative
Tom King 24 July 1989 10 April 1992 Conservative
Malcolm Rifkind 10 April 1992 5 July 1995 Conservative
Michael Portillo 5 July 1995 2 May 1997 Conservative
George Robertson 3 May 1997 11 October 1999 Labour
Geoff Hoon 11 October 1999 6 May 2005 Labour
John Reid 6 May 2005 5 May 2006 Labour
Des Browne 5 May 2006 3 October 2008 Labour
John Hutton 3 October 2008 5 June 2009 Labour
Bob Ainsworth 5 June 2009 Labour



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