HM Treasury

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Her Majesty's Treasury (HM Treasury), or 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 Treasury maintains OSCAR the replacement for COINS Combined Online Information System that contains a detailed analysis of departmental spending under thousands of category headings. and from which the Whole of Government Accounts are now produced.


The beginnings of the treasury of England is traced by some to an individual known as Henry the Treasurer a servant to the king of England, William the Conqueror. The surety of this beginning is based on an entry in the Domesday Book showing the individual Henry ("the treasurer") as a Winchester landowner, known to be the place where the royal treasure was stored. The Treasury of the United Kingdom traces its origins to the Treasury of the Kingdom of England, which had come into existence by 1126, in the reign of Henry I. The Treasury emerged from 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.

The treasury was first put to commission in May or June of 1660. The first commission were: the Duke of Albermarle, Lord Ashley, (Sir) W Coventry, (Sir) J Duncomb and (Sir) T Clifford. During 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 were given a number based on their seniority. Eventually, the First Lord of the Treasury came to be seen as the natural head of the 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.

During the time when the treasury was under commission the junior Lords were paid sixteen hundred pounds a year each.

The prefix of the department name is changed depending upon who is the reigning monarch. If male, the prefix would be His Majesty's Treasury. When the sovereign is female, currently Queen Elizabeth II the prefix used is Her Majesty's Treasury.


The Treasury Ministers are as follows:

Minister Rank Portfolio
The Rt Hon David Cameron MP First Lord of the Treasury Prime Minister, formal head of the Treasury
The Rt Hon George Osborne MP Chancellor of the Exchequer
Second Lord of the Treasury
Overall responsibility
The Rt Hon Danny Alexander MP Chief Secretary to the Treasury Public expenditure, devolution matters
The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP Financial Secretary to the Treasury Financial services, personal savings and pensions
David Gauke MP Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury UK tax system, HM Revenue and Customs, Valuation Office Agency
Nicky Morgan MP Economic Secretary to the Treasury Environmental taxation, tax credits, charities, stamp duty, Royal Mint
Lord Deighton KBE Commercial Secretary to the Treasury Enterprise & productivity, corporate finance, financial crime
Key Conservative
Liberal Democrat


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.

Permanent Secretaries

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.

  • Francis Mowatt (1894–1903)
  • George Murray (1903–1911)
  • John Bradbury (1913–1919)
  • Robert Chalmers (1916–1919)
  • Warren Fisher (1919–1939)
  • Horace Wilson (1939–1942)
  • Richard Hopkins (1942–1945)
  • Edward Bridges (1945–1956)
  • Roger Makins (1956–1959)
  • Frank Lee (1960–1962)
  • Norman Brook (1956–1963)
  • Laurence Helsby (1963–1968)
  • William Armstrong (1962–1968)
  • Douglas Allen (1968–1974)
  • Douglas Wass (1974–1983)
  • Peter Middleton (1983–1991)
  • Terence Burns (1991–1998)
  • Andrew Turnbull (1998–2002)
  • Gus O'Donnell (2002–2005)
  • Sir Nicholas Macpherson (since 2005)

The Second Permanent Secretary is Tom Scholar, the managing director of the International and Finance 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, Innovation and Skills. 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.

Banknote issue

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 not convertible for gold through the Bank of England, replacing the gold coin in circulation to prevent a run on sterling and to enable raw material purchases for armament production. 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. They replaced coins in circulation, were produced by the Treasury, not the Bank of England. 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 promise (never adhered to) was their removal from circulation after the war had finished and the return to the circulation of gold as money.

The notes were issued until 1928, when the Currency and Bank Notes Act 1928 returned note-issuing powers to the banks.<ref name="treasurynotes1"> Template:Cite web </ref>

Associated public bodies

Executive agencies of HM Treasury

  • UK Debt Management Office, reporting to the Financial Services Secretary. Responsible for government borrowing operations.

Other bodies reporting to Treasury Ministers

  • Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, a non-ministerial government department for which the responsible Minister is the Exchequer Secretary
    • Valuation Office Agency, an executive agency of HM Revenue and Customs
  • National Savings and Investments, an executive agency of the Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • Office for Budget Responsibility, a non-departmental public body of HM Treasury
  • Office of Tax Simplification, an independent office of HM Treasury
  • Royal Mint, a Treasury-owned coinage company
  • UK Financial Investments, a Treasury-owned company with UK banking interests

History of Treasury Main Building


The Treasury Main Building at 1 Horse Guards Road, often referred to as the Government Offices Great George Street ('GOGGS'), was designed by John Brydon following a competition.<ref name=history>HM Treasury: About GOGGS</ref> Construction took place in two phases: the West end was completed in 1908 and the East end was completed in 1917.<ref name=history/> It was originally built as offices for Board of Education, the Local Government Board and the local Ministry of Works Office: HM Treasury only moved in the building in 1940.<ref name=history/> A major refurbishment of the building was completed under a PFI contract by Bovis Lend Lease in 2004.

See also

  • Economy of the United Kingdom
  • List of Commissioners of the Treasury
  • List of Lord Treasurers
  • Lord High Treasurer
  • United Kingdom budget



External links

Video clips

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