The foreign secretary is one of the most senior members of the Cabinet.
As head of the Foreign Office, the foreign secretary and his or her ministers of state are responsible for the formulation of foreign policy and also for the diplomatic service.
The foreign secretary also acts as the government's representative at the United Nations.
The job's full title is Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs - 'Commonwealth' was only added in 1968 when the Commonwealth Office, which has its roots in the Colonial Office, was incorporated into the the Foreign Office.
The first Foreign Secretary was Charles James Fox who took up the post in 1782 and whose statue stands in St. Stephen's Hall.