Office of the Secretary of State for Wales

Office of the Secretary of State for Wales
Welsh: Swyddfa Ysgrifennydd Gwladol Cymru

Gwydyr House in Whitehall, London
Department overview
Formed 1 July 1999[1][2]
Preceding Department
Jurisdiction Wales
Headquarters 1 Caspian Point, Caspian Way, Cardiff, CF10 4DQ & Gwydyr House, Whitehall, London, SW1A 2NP
Employees 52 (2016–2017)
Annual budget ~£4.7 million for 2016–2017
Minister responsible
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The Office of the Secretary of State for Wales, (Welsh: Swyddfa Ysgrifennydd Gwladol Cymru), informally known as the Wales Office, (Swyddfa Cymru), is a United Kingdom government department. It replaced the former Welsh Office, which had extensive responsibility for governing Wales prior to Welsh devolution in 1999.[1]


In the past it has been called "Wales' voice in Westminster and Westminster's voice in Wales". However, it is significantly less powerful since the Government of Wales Act 2006: it is primarily responsible for carrying out the few functions remaining with the Secretary of State for Wales that have not been transferred already to the National Assembly for Wales; and for securing funds for Wales as part of the annual budgetary settlement.[3]

The Secretary of State for Wales has overall responsibility for the office but it is located administratively within the Ministry of Justice (until 2007, the Department for Constitutional Affairs).


The ministers in the Office of the Secretary of State for Wales are as follows:[4][5]

Minister Image Rank Portfolio
The Rt Hon. Alun Cairns MP Secretary of State Overall strategic direction of the department, constitutional and electoral issues, Welsh budget, infrastructure, foreign affairs, health, localism, justice
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Parliamentary-Under Secretary of State Immigration and social inclusion, defence, local government, localism, education, and, law and order
Mims Davies MP[6] Parliamentary-Under Secretary of State Law and order, immigration, education, transport, telecommunications, welfare, broadcasting, Welsh language, Energy, environment, rural affairs, defence, heritage, culture, tourism, local government

Unlike Scotland and Northern Ireland, Wales does not have its own Law Officers of the Crown; it is part of the England and Wales legal jurisdiction. The Attorney General for England and Wales therefore advises the United Kingdom Government on its law.[7] His deputy is the Solicitor General for England and Wales.


Following the 'yes' vote in the 2011 referendum on giving the Assembly direct law-making powers, some politicians in Wales, particularly from Plaid Cymru, have called for the abolition of the Wales Office.[8] Lord Elis-Thomas, Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales said:

I think it would be very useful to [wind up the Wales Office] before we start the next Assembly; that would be the logical time because that is the time when our new powers will become fully operational. The relationship then would be inter-governmental and inter-parliamentary. In other words it would be between the National Assembly and the Parliament at Westminster, where there are issues on laws which are made in Westminster which impinge on Wales and vice versa.[9]

However, Lord Elis-Thomas was accused of following a "separatist agenda" by the Conservative Cheryl Gillan, then Secretary of State for Wales. She was supported by her Labour predecessor Peter Hain, who declared that Wales "still needs a voice around the Cabinet in Westminster".[8]


  1. 1 2 History Archived 3 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine. – Retrieved 8 March 2012
  2. "SERVICE DELIVERY AGREEMENT 2000". Office of the Secretary of State for Wales. 2000. Archived from the original on 25 February 2001. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  3. About the Wales Office – Last modified 14 December 2010. Retrieved 8 March 2012
  4. "Our ministers". GOV.UK. Wales Office. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
  5. "Her Majesty's Official Opposition". UK Parliament. Retrieved 2017-10-17.
  7. Cabinet Office List of Government Departments and Ministers: Attorney General's Office
  8. 1 2 Presiding officer suggests dropping Welsh secretary – BBC News. Published 7 March 2011. Retrieved 8 March 2012
  9. Wales Office 'hard to justify' says Plaid Cymru leader – BBC News. Published 07 March 2011. Retrieved 08 March 2012
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