Minister of Shipping

The Minister of Shipping was a British government post created in the First World War and again in the Second World War. In 1941 it was merged into the position of Minister of Transport which was then renamed Minister of War Transport.

Minister of Shipping (1916-21)

Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Shipping (1916-21)

As Sir Joseph Maclay was not a Member of Parliament, it was necessary to appoint a Parliamentary Secretary to represent him in the Commons. He was made Baron Maclay after he left office.

Ministers of Shipping (1939-41)

Departmental History

The responsibilities overseen by the minister included what had been the Board of Admiralty's Department of Sea Transport, and originally the Board of Transport.[1] In 1916 a Shipping Controller was appointed to regulate merchant shipping for government purposes and to coordinate wartime shipping requirements. A Ministry of Shipping was established following the Defence Regulations of June 1917.[2] The Ministry of Shipping, had responsibility for 'sea transport of military forces and supplies, food and raw materials for industry, Atlantic, Gibraltar and Russian convoys, shipping losses and tonnage requirements, shipbuilding and other matters relating to wartime British and allied control of merchant shipping'.[3] In 1917, the Ministry embarked on a large scale requisitioning scheme of British ships and became responsible for the maintenance and operation of a vast merchant fleet.[2] After the end of the war in November 1918 the main functions of the Ministry were the transport of troops, prisoners of war and material back to the United Kingdom, the disposal or release of requisitioned ships, and the reconditioning of vessels for release back to their to private owners. The Ministry was dissolved on 31 March 1921.[2] The Military Sea Transport Division then became part of the Board of Trade, within Mercantile Marine Department.[4]

The Ministry of Shipping was reinstated with the outbreak of war in 1939, with a Sea Transport Division. The division was moved to the Ministry of War Transport in 1941. From 1946, it was a division of the Ministry of Transport; from 1965, the Shipping Division of the Board of Trade; and from 1970 of the Department of Trade and Industry.[4]


  1. The National Archive, catalogue for ADM 108
  2. 1 2 3 "Records inherited and created by the Ministry of Transport, Shipping Divisions". National Archives. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  3. The National Archive, catalogue for MT 25
  4. 1 2 The National Archive, catalogue for MT40
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