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Definition: Chancellor of the Exchequer from A Glossary of UK Government and Politics

The Chancellor is the title held by the Cabinet minister who controls HM Treasury and is responsible for all economic and financial matters. He (all Chancellors to date have been men) also has oversight of public spending across government departments. In recent times, the position has come to be widely regarded as being the most powerful office in British politics after the Prime Minister. Under the Blair Governments, the Chancellor of the Exchequer was Gordon Brown.


Summary Article: chancellor of the Exchequer
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

In the UK, senior cabinet minister responsible for the national economy. The office, established under Henry III, originally entailed keeping the Exchequer seal. The chancellor of the Exchequer, from July 2016, is Philip Hammond.

The chancellor of the Exchequer is the head of the Treasury and one of the leading members of the government in Britain. The office dates from the 13th century, having developed from the position of clerk to the Lord Chancellor. For the purposes of financial and economic policy the chancellor is the only active member of the Treasury Board, which, in addition to the chancellor, consists of the first lord of the Treasury, an office now held by the prime minister, and five junior lords of the Treasury, who are in practice government whips. Similarly, the parliamentary secretary to the Treasury is the government chief whip and has no departmental responsibilities at the Treasury. The chancellor of the Exchequer is assisted at ministerial level by the chief secretary to the Treasury, and by the economic, financial, and Exchequer secretaries to the Treasury.

The chancellor is responsible for national finance and the coordination of economic policy, and presents the annual budget to Parliament in which he or she reviews the state of the economy and reveals proposals for its regulation. These proposals are subsequently given parliamentary approval through the annual Finance Act. In 1997 the chancellor ceded control over setting UK interest rates to the Bank of England.

In the past the office of chancellor of the Exchequer was sometimes held by the prime minister, but the last to do so was W E Gladstone in 1873–74 and 1880–82. The chancellor also originally had important judicial functions, but these lapsed and were finally abolished in the 19th century.

The chancellor of the Exchequer has an official residence at 11 Downing Street.

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