Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

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Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Duchy of Lancaster-coa.png
Arms of the Duchy of Lancaster
Oliver Letwin Official.jpg
Oliver Letwin

since 15 July 2014
Style The Right Honourable
Appointer The Sovereign
on advice of the Prime Minister
Inaugural holder Sir Henry de Haydock
Formation 1361
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The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is, in modern times, a ministerial office[1] in Her Majesty's Government that includes as part of its duties, the administration of the estates and rents of the Duchy of Lancaster.[2] The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister.[3][4]

The Chancellor is answerable to Parliament for the governance of the Duchy.[5] However, the involvement of the Chancellor in the running of the day-to-day affairs of the Duchy is slight, and the office is held by a senior politician whose main role is usually quite different. The current incumbent, as of 15 July 2014, is Oliver Letwin.


Originally, the Chancellor was the chief officer in the daily management of the Duchy of Lancaster and the County Palatine of Lancaster (a county palatine merged into the Crown in 1399), but that estate is now run by a deputy, leaving the Chancellor as a member of the Cabinet with little obligation in regard to the Chancellorship. The position has often been given to a junior Cabinet minister with responsibilities in a particular area of policy for which there is no department with an appropriate portfolio.

In 1491, the office of Vice-Chancellor of the County Palatine of Lancaster was created. The position is now held by a judge of the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice, who sits in the north west of England, and no longer appointed to that position as legal officer of the Duchy.

Modern times

In recent times, the Chancellor's duties (administrative, financial, and legal) have been said to occupy an average of one day a week. Under the Promissory Oaths Act 1868, the Chancellor is required to take the oath of allegiance and the Official Oath.[6]

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is entitled to a salary under the Ministerial and other Salaries Act 1975, but section 3 of the Act provides that the salary "shall be reduced by the amount of the salary payable to him otherwise than out of moneys so provided in respect of his office".[7] The Office of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is part of the Cabinet Office.[8]

From 1997 till 2009, the holder of the title also served as the Minister for the Cabinet Office. This was true of Alan Milburn, who was given the title by Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2004 and at the same time rejoined the Cabinet. However, in the reshuffle of 5 June 2009, the Chancellorship went to the Leader of the House of Lords, the Baroness Royall. In David Cameron's first cabinet, announced on 12 May 2010, the Chancellorship remained with the Leader of the House of Lords.

The current Chancellor is Oliver Letwin, having been appointed in July 2014 when he was also Minister for Government Policy (2010-2015). Following the 2015 general election, he was also given overall responsibility for the Cabinet Office and made a full member of the Cabinet. He has also been the Member of Parliament for West Dorset since 1997.

See also


  1. House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 c. 24, Schedule 2
  2. Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster - Glossary page - UK Parliament. (21 April 2010). Retrieved 30 September 2011.
  3. FAQs, Archived 2009-09-01 on the Internet Archive.
  4. The Government, Prime Minister and Cabinet: Directgov - Government, citizens and rights. Retrieved on 30 September 2011.
  5. Vernon Bogdanor. The Monarchy and the Constitution. p. 188.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>. (Citing House of Commons Debates 17 November 1987 col 11, Standing Committee G.)
  6. Promissory Oaths Act 1868 section 5 and Schedule
  7. Ministerial and other Salaries Act 1975 sections 1 & 3 and Schedule 1
  8. Appropriation Act 2010 Schedule 2 Part 2