1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lord President of the Council

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LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL, in England, one of the great officers of state, and a member of the ministry. It was only in 1679 that the office of lord president became permanent. Previously either the lord chancellor, the lord keeper of the seal, or some particular court official took formal direction of the Privy Council. In the reign of Charles I. a special lord president of the council was appointed, but in the following reign the office was left unfilled. The office was of considerable importance when the powers of the Privy Council, exercised through various committees, were of greater extent than at the present time. For example, a committee of the lords of the council was formerly responsible for the work now dealt with by the secretary of state for foreign affairs; so also with that now discharged by the Board of Trade. The lord president up to 1855—when a new post of vice-president of the council was created—was responsible for the education department. He was also responsible for the duties of the council in regard to public health, now transferred to the Local Government Board, and for duties in regard to agriculture, now transferred to the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries. The duties of the office now consist of presiding on the not very frequent occasions when the Privy Council meets, and of the drawing up of minutes of council upon subjects which do not belong to any other department of state. The office is very frequently held in conjunction with other ministerial offices, for example, in Gladstone’s fourth ministry the secretary of state for India was also lord president of the council, and in the conservative ministry of 1903 the holder of the office was also president of the Board of Education. The lord president is appointed by a declaration made in council by the sovereign. He is invariably a member of the House of Lords, and he is also included in the cabinet.