I have heard that an alternative title of "First Lord of the Treasury" should be used rather that "Prime Minister". Is there a difference and do they have specific legal meaning?

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    I edited the question a bit to make it more clear. It was flagged as unclear and this seems to have the same gist of what you were looking for but with a focus on the difference between the two titles.
    – JJJ
    Sep 24, 2019 at 20:32
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    Historically there was no official office called "Prime Minister", it was a traditional title held by the leader of the government but conferred no Parliamentary or governmental power whatsoever - the PM also traditionally holds the office of First Lord of the Treasury and that office confers powers by which the government and Parliament have to abide. In recent years however, legislation has has had the effect of normalising the office of PM by mentioning it directly, bringing it into official existence. Writing this as a comment because it will need references, which I cant do right now.
    – user16741
    Sep 24, 2019 at 21:25
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    Further to @user16741's historical survey: the designation "Prime Minister" was originally an insult, meaning "a minister who's so arrogant they expect the Monarch to follow their advice on the appointment and management of other ministers". From 1721, the First Lord of the Treasury Robert Walpole decided to own it, and that he actually would expect the King to follow his advice on those matters. He could get away with it in large part because of his skill in getting a majority in the House of Commons to vote the way he told them to, hence our modern notion of "confidence". Oct 16, 2022 at 13:35
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    Since, Walpole, there has always been a minister who plays that role, and it has usually, but not quite always, been the First Lord of the Treasury. Oct 16, 2022 at 13:37

1 Answer 1


The First Lord of the Treasury is the head of the commission exercising the ancient office of Lord High Treasurer in the United Kingdom, and is by convention also the Prime Minister.


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