Defence Secretary, Dr John ReidSecretary of State for Defence

Rt Hon Dr John Reid MP

Born in Scotland in May 1947, John Reid went to school at Coatbridge. He read History at Stirling University, staying to take a Doctorate in Economic History.

He worked as a research officer for the Labour Party from 1979 to 1983. He acted as political adviser to Neil Kinnock from 1983 to 1985 and organised Scottish Trade Unionists for Labour from 1986 to 1987.

He has held the following posts in Parliament: Opposition Spokesman on Children; Opposition Spokesman on Defence; Minister of State for Defence; Minister for Transport; Secretary of State for Scotland; Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; Minister without Portfolio and Party Chair; Leader of the House of Commons and President of the Council.

Following a spell at the Department of Health, he took over as Secretary of State for Defence in May 2005.

John Reid enjoys reading history and solving crosswords in his spare time. He is married to Ms Carine Adler.


The Secretary of State for Defence is the Cabinet Minister charged with making and executing Defence policy, and with providing the means by which it is executed, the Armed Forces. He is Chairman of the Defence Council and of its three Boards, (the Admiralty Board, the Army Board and the Air Force Board).

Although responsible ultimately for all elements of Defence, the Secretary of State is supported by three subordinate Ministers: the Minister of State for Defence Procurement, the Minister of State for the Armed Forces and the Under-Secretary of State for Defence. The Secretary of State assigns responsibility to them for specific aspects of the Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defence's business. However, the following are specifically his responsibility:

  • Policy, including nuclear issues and European defence
  • Operations
  • Personnel
  • Finance and efficiency
  • Oversight of major acquisition decisions and defence industrial issues
  • Media and communications

Last Updated: 26 May 05