Tuesday 4 February 2003

Privy Council

Senior Ministers are appointed Privy Counsellors for life, but only those of the Government of the day participate in its policy work.

The Privy Council Office is the smallest autonomous Government department with fewer than 50 staff. It supports its Ministerial Head - the Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Lords.

As Lord President, the Minister attends Privy Council meetings and is Visitor of 17 Universities. They are also Leader of the House of Lords, Lords spokesperson on Northern Ireland and International Development, and is a ministerial representative on various Cabinet Committees.

The Office also provides support to the Leader and Deputy Leader of the House of Commons.

The Office provides a secretariat to the Privy Council. Her Majesty The Queen usually holds nine scheduled Council meetings each year, with others summoned when necessary.

The Privy Council Office Secretariat looks after the affairs of 400 professional institutions and other bodies incorporated by Royal Charter. It also helps to regulate the health professions and the universities.

The Privy Council Office also provides the Registry to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, a judicial body consisting of the Law Lords and senior UK and Commonwealth judges.

It is a court of final appeal for some independent Commonwealth countries and for the UK overseas territories and Crown dependencies; also for cases arising within the UK in which issues are raised as to the functions and powers of the devolved legislative and executive authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council

Baronness AshtonRt Hon the Baroness of Upholland


  • Attends all meetings of the Privy Council
  • Is Head of Department - the Privy Council Office

Contact department

You can write to the Privy Council Office:

Clerk of the Council
Privy Council Office
2 Carlton Gardens
London SW1Y 5AA

Telephone: 020 7210 1033
Fax: 020 7210 1071


Lord President of the Council:
Privy Council Office:

If you need to contact the Judicial Committee, please write to:

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
Downing Street
London SW1A 2AJ

Telephone: 020 7276 0483/0485/0487
Fax: 020 7276 0460

E-mail the Judicial Committee:

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