History of the Office of the Prime Minister

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Office of the Prime Minister

Since 1814, Norway's prime minister has had secretarial assistance also in other than his constitutional tasks, long handled by the State Secretariat/Secretariat to the Council of State. When Prime Minister Johan Nygaardsvold in 1939 was relieved from leading the Ministry of Labour, the term Office of the Prime Minister came into use.

Since 1814, Norway's prime minister has had secretarial assistance also in other than his constitutional tasks, long handled by the Secretariat to the Council of State. When Prime Minister Johan Nygaardsvold in 1939 was relieved from leading the Ministry of Labour, the term Office of the Prime Minister came into use about those handling his administrative tasks. Since the Secretariat to the Council of State in 1969 became part of the Office of the Prime Minister, all secretarial assistance to the prime minister has been handled there.

The Office of the Prime Minister is thus responsible for central secretariat tasks conducted continuosly since the dissolution of the Danish-Norwegian realm in the winter of 1814: the task as secretariat to the Council of State and the task as secretariat to the prime minister.

State Secretariat
The need for central secretariats in Christiania (Oslo) arose when national government institutions were reestablished in Norway in 1814. On 2 March, Prince Regent Christian Frederik established a council of government, a regency secretariat and five ministries.

After Norway's constitution had been passed on 17 May 1814, the Council of Government on 19 May had its name changed to the Concil of State, while the Regency Secretariat became the State Secretariat. The leading government minister, Frederik Haxthausen and from 20 August Marcus Rosenkrantz, was served by the State Secretariat.

When Norway on 4 November 1814 entered into union with Sweden, the title of prime minister was soon given to the leading government minister, Peder Anker. He was appointed to lead the Norwegian Council of State Division in Stockholm, with the Norwegian State Secretariat's chancery there as secretariat for both constitutional and administrative matters. In Christiania, government work was headed by the King's governor-general, in his absence by the first minister.

Secretary to the Prime Minister
After some time, the need arose for an extra administrative secretary to the office leading government work in Christiania on behalf of the King. This post was established on 4 July 1829. The secretary first served the governor-general and the first minister, and from 21 July 1873 the new office as prime minister in Christiania. After a while, the post was located in the ministry headed by the prime minister.

This was the situation until the Swedish-Norwegian union was dissolved in 1905. In 1906, the post as secretary to the prime minister was abolished. From now on, the prime minister used the ministry he was head of, to assist him in administrative tasks not handled by the State Secretariat. In 1926, the State Secretariat had its name changed to the Secretariat to the Council of State, administratively under the Ministry of Justice.

Office of the Prime Minister
After the outbreak of the second world war in September 1939, Prime Minister Johan Nygaardsvold on 2 October 1939 was relieved from also being head of the Ministry of Labour. The term Office of the Prime Minister now came into use about his new office and the reestablished post as secretary to the prime minister, sharing the antechamber with the Council of State Secretariat. A proposal to merge the two secretariats was hampered by the German attack on Norway on 9 april 1940.

During the Norwegian government years in exile in London 1940-1945, also the term Ministry of the Government was used about the prime minister and his administrative staff. In the summer of 1945, the Office of the Prime Minister was expanded with i.a. two post as secretary to the prime minister, while the system of joint antechamber with the Council of State Secretariat was abolished.

On 6 January 1956, the temporary posts as secretary to the prime minister were replaced by permanent political posts as state secretaries and civil servant posts as directors general. On 26 November 1958, the Office of the Prime Minister and the Council of State Secretariat moved to the same floor in the new high-rise in Oslo's Government Block.

One secretariat
On 1 July  1969, the tasks of the Council of State Secretariat was transferred to the Office of the Prime Minister. Two central functions from the early 1800's had now been joined - the secretariat of the Council of State and the secretariat of the prime minister.