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.

Related posts

  • As of March 2019, 295 public bodies were in operation across the UK government. Most public bodies within the United Kingdom are established and operated by the government, with varying levels of autonomy and ministerial responsibility according to their classification. Brexit means that many functions previously carried out by EU agencies will become the responsibility of existing UK bodies. A number of new public bodies are also being created to manage additional responsibilities after EU exit.