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Cabinet Ministers suffering electoral defeat while holding office

Published Thursday, September 27, 2018

This list notes all serving Cabinet ministers since 1900 who have lost their seats. It does not include Ministers who were not of Cabinet rank who lost their seats, or individuals who had served in the Cabinet at one time but lost their seat after having left the Cabinet.

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Cabinet ministers in the House of Commons, like all MPs, must fight their Parliamentary seats at general elections. It is relatively rare for Cabinet ministers to lose their parliamentary seats, as most of them hold relatively safe seats.

By convention, ministers and Cabinet ministers must sit in either the House of Commons or the House of Lords. However, it is possible for ministers to be appointed whilst not sitting in either House. This happened to Patrick Gordon Walker, who unexpectedly lost his seat in Labour’s 1964 election victory. He was nevertheless appointed Foreign Secretary. He contested a by-election in January 1965, but lost it, and at that point resigned his position as Foreign Secretary.

Re-election of Ministers Act 1926

The majority of Members listed lost their seats at general elections. However, until the passage of the Re-election of Ministers Act 1926, any Member admitted into the Cabinet other than at a general election was obliged to resign his or her seat and contest a by-election. Of those on the list, Churchill, Masterman (twice) and Griffith Boscawen (twice, in 1921 and 1923) lost their by-elections.

Parliament: facts and figures

This series of publications contains data on various subjects relating to Parliament and Government. Topics include legislation, MPs, select committees, debates, divisions and Parliamentary procedure.


Please send any comments or corrections to the Parliament & Constitution Centre. Suggestions for new lists welcomed.

Commons Briefing papers SN06691

Author: Sarah Priddy

Topics: House of Commons, Ministers

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