The Department for Transport (DfT) is a department of His Majesty's Government responsible for the English transport network and a limited number of transport matters in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland that have not been devolved. The department is run by the Secretary of State for Transport, currently (since 25 October 2022), Mark Harper.
|Formed||29 May 2002|
|Jurisdiction||Government of the United Kingdom|
|Headquarters||Great Minster House, Horseferry Road, London|
|Annual budget||£2.9 billion; 2019–20|
|Secretary of State responsible|
|Act of Parliament|
|Long title||An Act to establish a Ministry of Transport and for purposes connected therewith.|
|Citation||9 & 10 Geo. 5. c. 50|
|Royal assent||15 August 1919|
Status: Partially repealed
|Text of statute as originally enacted|
|Text of the Ministry of Transport Act 1919 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from legislation.gov.uk.|
The Ministry of Transport was established by the Ministry of Transport Act 1919 which provided for the transfer to the new ministry of powers and duties of any government department in respect of railways, light railways, tramways, canals and inland waterways, roads, bridges and ferries, and vehicles and traffic thereon, harbours, docks and piers.
In September 1919, all the powers of the Road Board, the Ministry of Health, and the Board of Trade in respect of transport, were transferred to the new ministry. Initially, the department was organised to carry out supervisory, development and executive functions, but the end of railway and canal control by 1921, and the settlement of financial agreements relating to the wartime operations of the railways reduced its role. In 1923, the department was reorganised into three major sections: Secretarial, Finance and Roads.
The ministry's functions were exercised initially throughout the United Kingdom. An Irish Branch was established in 1920, but then was taken over by the government of the Irish Free State on the transfer of functions in 1922.
The department took over transport functions of Scottish departments in the same year, though certain functions relating to local government, loan sanction, byelaws and housing were excepted. In May 1937, power to make provisional orders for harbour, pier and ferry works was transferred to the Secretary of State for Scotland.
The growth of road transport increased the responsibilities of the ministry, and in the 1930s, and especially with defence preparations preceding the outbreak of war, government responsibilities for all means of transport increased significantly.
Government control of transport and diverse associated matters has been reorganised a number of times in modern history, being the responsibility of:
The name "Ministry of Transport" lives on in the annual MOT test, a test of vehicle safety, roadworthiness, and exhaust emissions, which most vehicles used on public roads in the UK are required to pass annually once they reach three years old (four years for vehicles in Northern Ireland).
The Department for Transport has six strategic objectives:
The department "creates the strategic framework" for transport services, which are delivered through a wide range of public and private sector bodies including its own executive agencies.
The DfT Ministers are as follows:
|The Rt Hon. Mark Harper MP||Secretary of State for Transport||Overall responsibility for the department; oversight of all areas|
|Huw Merriman MP||Minister of State for Rail and HS2||Rail transformation and reform; rail infrastructure; High Speed 2 (HS2); Integrated Rail Plan; Northern Powerhouse Rail; international rail; rail passenger services and freight; accessibility|
|The Rt Hon. Anthony Browne MP||Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State||Aviation; transport decarbonisation; air quality; technology, (including autonomous vehicles, drones, e-scooters); space; skills, science and research; corporate (including public appointments); aviation accessibility.|
|The Rt Hon. The Lord Davies of Gower||Parliamentary Under Secretary of State||Primary legislation in the Lords; maritime; security (including Ukraine); civil contingencies; international; union connectivity; secondary legislation (including retained EU law); maritime accessibility.|
|Guy Opperman MP||Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Roads and Local Transport||roads maintenance and infrastructure delivery (including National Highways); road safety; motoring agencies (DVLA, DVSA, VCA); local transport including buses, taxis, light rail; active travel (cycling and walking); Kent including BROCK, TAP; EES and borders; haulage; Future of Freight; women’s safety; accessibility (cross-cutting lead as Ministerial Disability Champion).|
Following a series of strikes, poor performance, concerns over access for the disabled and commuter protests relating to Govia Thameslink Railway a group of commuters crowdfunded £26,000 to initiate a judicial review into the Department for Transport's management and failure to penalise Govia or remove the management contract. The oral hearing to determine if commuters have standing to bring a judicial review was listed for 29 June 2017 at the Royal Courts of Justice.
The DfT sponsors the following public bodies:
Scotland Reserved matters:
Northern Ireland Reserved matters:
The department's devolved counterparts in Northern Ireland are:
Wales Reserved matters:
The department's devolved counterpart in Wales is the Minister for Climate Change.
Wales' comparability factor (the proportion of spending in this area devolved to the Welsh Government) was 36.6% for 2021/22. This represents a significant reduction (e.g. it was 80.9% in 2015) due to the controversial classification of HS2 as an 'England and Wales' project.
The Transport Committee is charged by the House of Commons with scrutiny of the Department for Transport. Its formal remit is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Department for Transport and its associated public bodies.