Secretary of State

From Academic Kids

In several countries, Secretary of State is a senior government position. The role varies between countries, and in some cases there are multiple Secretaries of State in the government.


United Kingdom

Main article: Secretary of State (United Kingdom)

In the United Kingdom, a Secretary of State is a senior Cabinet Minister in charge of a Government Department. Secretary of State positions can be created without primary legislation; and legislation refers to "Secretary of State", which is a notional position split between all the Secretaries of State depending upon the functions.

Originally, there was a single Secretary of State who advised the monarch, but the number of Secretaries gradually increased over the years. There are currently fifteen cabinet ministers that hold the title.

Current positions

United States

Main article: United States Secretary of State

In the federal government of the United States of America, the main role of the Secretary of State is to supervise and conduct foreign policy. He (or she) is head of the United States Department of State.

In the individual states of the United States, the Secretary of State is normally an administrative officer responsible for certifying elections and maintaining corporate registrations. In some states, the Secretary of State handles driver's licenses and license plates and certifies state documents and notaries public. Ordinarily this not a particularly powerful position; however, because the Secretary of State is generally responsible for certifying elections, this position can occasionally become important. For example, the Secretary of State of Florida, Katherine Harris, played an important role in deciding the outcome of the 2000 Presidential election.

In many states the state secretary of state is often third in line to assume the office of governor upon death or resignation of the incumbent, after the lieutenant governor.


The Canadian Cabinet used to have a Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs who acted as the country's Foreign Minister, but this position was abolished in 1993 and a new position of Minister of Foreign Affairs was created. From 1867 to 1993 there was also a Secretary of State for Canada who was a Cabinet minister whose duties varied over time but who was responsible for the Department of Secretary of State until it was abolished. From 1993 to 2003, several MPs were styled Secretary of State with a specific policy areas and assist Cabinet Ministers but these were not themselves members of Cabinet. In the current Cabinet these positions are styled Ministers of State.

Holy See

The Cardinal Secretary of State presides over the Secretariat of State, which is the most important dicastery of the Roman Curia. During a sede vacante, the former Secretary of State (the appointment expires when the pope dies or resigns) assumes some of the functions of the head of state as a part of a temporary commission.


In, France, a secretary of State is a junior minister, who responds to a minister or the Primeär fr:Secrétaire d'État no:Statssekretær pl:Sekretarz stanu sv:Statssekreterare


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