HM Treasury, in full Her Majesty's Treasury, informally The Treasury, is the United Kingdom government department responsible for developing and executing the British government's public finance policy and economic policy.
The English Treasury
seems to have come into existence around 1126, in the reign of Henry I
. The Treasury emerged out of the Royal Household
, and served as the location where the king kept his treasures. The head of the Treasury was called the Lord Treasurer
. Starting in Tudor
times, the Lord Treasurer became one of the chief officers of state, and competed with the Lord Chancellor
for the principal place.
In 1667 Charles II of England was responsible for appointing George Downing (the builder of Downing Street) to radically reform the Treasury and the collection of taxes.
Beginning in the 17th century, the Treasury was frequently entrusted to a commission, rather than to a single individual, and after 1714, it was always in commission. The commissioners were referred to as Lords of the Treasury, and given a number based on seniority. Eventually, the First Lord of the Treasury came to be seen as the natural head of any government, and from Robert Walpole on, began to be known, unofficially, as the prime minister. Before 1827, the First Lord of the Treasury, when a commoner, also held the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, while if the First Lord was a peer, the Second Lord would usually serve as Chancellor. Since 1827, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has always been Second Lord of the Treasury.
Banknotes in the UK are normally issued
by the Bank of England
and a number of commercial banks (see Banknotes of the pound sterling
). At the start of the First World War
, the Currency and Bank Notes Act 1914
was passed which gave the Treasury temporary powers for issuing banknotes to the value of £1 and 10/- (ten shillings) in the UK. Treasury notes had full legal tender status and were convertible for gold through the Bank of England. Unusually, these notes featured an image of King George V
- Bank of England notes did not begin to display an image of the monarch until 1960. The wording on each note was UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND — Currency notes are Legal Tender for the payment of any amount — Issued by the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury under the Authority of Act of Parliament (4 & 5 Geo. V c.14)
The notes were issued until 1928, when the Currency and Bank Notes Act 1928 returned note-issuing powers to the banks .
Some of the Government Whips
are also associated in name with the Treasury: the Chief Whip
is nominally Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury
and traditionally had an office in 12 Downing Street
. Some of the other Whips are nominally a Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
though these are all members of the House of Commons
. This led to the Government frontbench
in the Commons being known as the Treasury Bench
. However, since the Whips no longer have any effective ministerial role in the Treasury, they are usually not listed as Treasury ministers.
Ministers of HM Treasury
(As of 5 October, 2008.)
Ministers working in HM Treasury:
Other Ministers associated with HM Treasury:
Permanent Secretaries of HM Treasury
The position of Permanent Secretary
of HM Treasury is generally regarded as the second most influential in the British Civil Service
; the last two incumbents have gone on to be Cabinet Secretary
, the only post out-ranking it.
The Second Permanent Secretary is John Kingman, the managing director of the Public Services and Growth division. With effect from June 2007, the post of Head of the Government Economic Service (GES) is held jointly by the Managing Director of Macroeconomic and Fiscal Policy in HM Treasury, Dave Ramsden, and Vicky Pryce, Chief Economist in the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. The previous Head of the GES was Sir Nick Stern. Management support for GES members is provided by the Economists in Government team, which is located in HM Treasury's building.
Agencies of HM Treasury