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Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State

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The role of the Deputy Prime Minister

Deputising for the Prime Minister

The Deputy Prime Minister chairs a range of Cabinet Committees on behalf of the Prime Minister, and deputises for him domestically. This includes chairing full Cabinet and standing in for Prime Minister's Questions when the Prime Minister is away.

The Deputy Prime Minister also oversees Government business when the Prime Minister is on holiday. This arrangement has been in place for the past ten years. The Prime Minister remains in close contact with the Deputy Prime Minister during these periods.

Events where the Deputy Prime Minister has overseen the UK Government response during his "watch" include: the follow-up to the 7/7 London bombings in 2005; the Tsunami on Boxing Day 2004 and the flooding in Boscastle, Cornwall, in 2004.

Internationally, the Deputy Prime Minister is often asked to represent the Government on foreign visits, and meets visiting dignitaries to the UK on the Prime Minister’s behalf.

Recently, for example, the Deputy Prime Minister hosted President Lula da Silva of Brazil for part of his State visit to the UK. In the past few months he has met the Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore in London, visited the Prime Minister of Finland in Helsinki for talks ahead of the Finnish Presidency of the European Union, and has welcomed the Prime Minister of Georgia in London.

During the 2005 UK Presidency of the European Union, the Deputy Prime Minister maintained close contact with a number of the 10 new EU succession states, including meetings with the Presidents and Prime Ministers of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Cyprus and Croatia. The Deputy Prime Minister was also the main political link between the UK Presidency and the European Parliament.

The Deputy Prime Minister carries out certain long-term responsibilities on the Prime Minister's behalf, such as chairing the British Irish Council and maintaining high-level political links with China (including chairing the China Task Force).