The Leader of the House of Commons is a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom who is responsible for arranging government business in the House of Commons. Although at one time the position was usually held by the Prime Minister if he was an MP, in recent years, the post has usually been combined with that of Lord President of the Council (i.e. of the Privy Council). As of June 2003, the Leader of the House is Peter Hain, who combines the job with those of Lord Privy Seal and Secretary of State for Wales.
The House of Commons devotes approximately three quarters of its time to "Government business" such as bills introduced by the government and ministerial statements. The Leader of the House is responsible for organising the use of this time, and making regular announcements to the House as to what business the government will put before it. When there is no Deputy Prime Minister, the Leader of the House may stand in for an absent Prime Minister at Prime Minister's Questions.
Robin Cook was appointed as Leader of the House after the 2001 UK general election. He resigned from the post on March 17, 2003, as he could not accept the government's position on military action against Iraq. During his period in office he chaired the Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons, which proposed significant reforms of the sitting hours of the House.
Leaders of the House of Commons since 1721