Sunday, 21 December 2014

Elected In The 50s - A Look At Surviving Ex-MPs

Today has seen the news of the death of John Freeman, a matter of weeks before his 100th birthday. Freeman was the last surviving MP from the Second World War (he was elected in July 1945) and the last surviving MP to have taken the Parliamentary Oath to George VI.

There are still a handful of people around who were elected as MPs in the 1950s:

By-elections in the 1951-1955 Parliament

  • Denis Healey (Labour). Elected at the Leeds South East by-election in February 1952, caused by Labour's James Milner being elevated to the peerage after he failed to be elected Speaker of the House of Commons after the October 1951 general election. Healey remained an MP until retiring at the April 1992 general election (his seat had been modified to become Leeds East at the May 1955 general election). He was Defence Secretary throughout the Labour Government of October 1964 to June 1970 and Chancellor of the Exchequer throughout the Labour Government of March 1974 to May 1979. In Opposition, he was Labour's deputy leader from November 1980 to October 1983 and Shadow Foreign & Commonwealth Secretary from December 1980 to June 1987.
  • Roy Mason (Labour). Elected at the Barnsley by-election in March 1953, caused by the resignation of Labour's Sidney Schofield. Mason remained an MP until retiring at the June 1987 general election (his seat had been modified to become Barnsley Central at the June 1983 general election). He was President of the Board of Trade from October 1969 to June 1970, Defence Secretary from March 1974 to September 1976 and then Northern Ireland Secretary until May 1979.
  • John Eden (Conservative). Elected at the Bournemouth West by-election in February 1954, caused by the resignation of the Conservatives' Robert Gascoyne-Cecil. Eden retired at the June 1983 general election.
  • James Ramsden (Conservative). Elected at the Harrogate by-election in March 1954, caused by the resignation of the Conservatives' Christopher York. Ramsden retired at the February 1974 general election. He was War Secretary (outside the Cabinet) from October 1963 until the post was abolished in April 1964.

May 1955 general election

  • Richard Body (Conservative). Elected for Billericay (a Conservative hold). Body stepped down as an MP at the October 1959 general election, and returned as MP for Holland with Boston at the March 1966 general election, following the retirement of the National Liberals' Herbert Butcher. Body remained an MP until retiring at the June 2001 general election (his seat had been modified to become Boston & Skegness at the May 1997 general election). He resigned the Conservative whip in November 1994, and sat as an Independent until taking the Conservative whip again in January 1996.
  • Robin Chichester-Clark (Ulster Unionist Party). Elected for Londonderry (a UUP hold). Chichester-Clark retired as an MP at the February 1974 election. He was Minister for Employment from April 1972 until March 1974, being the only post-partition MP holding a Northern Ireland constituency to serve in Government.
  • Robert Lindsay (Conservative). Elected for Hertford (a Conservative hold). Lindsay remained an MP until defeated by Labour's Helene Hayman at the October 1974 general election. Boundary changes for the February 1974 election made the new Hertford & Stevenage notionally Labour, and this seat was won by Shirley Williams, choosing to follow the Stevenage part of her Hitchin constituency, with Lindsay standing in the new Welwyn & Hatfield constituency.
  • Thomas Mitchell (Sinn Féin). Elected for Ulster Mid (where the sitting Independent Republican MP, Michael O'Neill, was retiring). In July 1955, the House of Commons passed a resolution, noting that Mitchell was serving a sentence under the Treason Felony Act 1848, and - as per Section 2 of the Fofeiture Act 1870 - was unable to be an MP. At the same time, there was an election petition from Charles Beattie, the defeated UUP candidate, asking to be declared the winner. However, the Commons resolution meant that a by-election was held in August 1955, where Mitchell again defeated Beattie. An Election Court ruling in October 1955 decided that Mitchell's election was "undue", and Beattie was declared the winner. In February 1956, the House of Commons passed another resolution, stating that Beattie was also ineligible to be an MP. As there was no third candidate to award the seat to, a new by-election was held in May 1956, with Independent Unionist George Forrest defeating both Mitchell and O'Neill. Mitchell tried to win his old seat back at the October 1964 and 1966 general elections.

By-elections in the 1955-1959 Parliament

  • Edward du Cann (Conservative). Elected for Taunton in February 1956, caused by the Conservatives' Henry Hopkinson being elevated to the peerage. Du Cann remained an MP until retiring at the 1987 election.
  • Philip Goodhart (Conservative). Elected for Beckenham in March 1957, caused by the Conservatives' Patrick Buchan-Hepburn being elevated to the peerage. Goodhart remained an MP until retiring at the 1992 election.

October 1959 general election

  • Clive Bossom (Conservative). Elected for Leominster (a Conservative hold). Bossom retired at the February 1974 election.
  • John Hollingworth (Conservative). Elected for Birmingham All Saints, unseating sitting Labour MP, Denis Howell. At the 1964 election, Hollingworth was defeated by Labour's Brian Walden.
  • Timothy Kitson (Conservative). Elected for Richmond (Yorkshire) (a Conservative hold). Kitson retired at the 1983 election.
  • Stratton Mills (Ulster Unionist Party/Conservative/Alliance Party of Northern Ireland). Elected for Belfast North (a UUP hold). Mills retired at the February 1974 election. In December 1972 he resigned from the UUP, although, in common with the UUP MPs, he continued to take the Conservative whip. In April 1973 he became the APNI's first MP.
  • John Morris (Labour). Elected for Aberavon (a Labour hold). Morris retired at the 2001 election. He was Welsh Secretary throughout the 1974-1979 Labour Government.
  • John Osborn (Conservative). Elected for Sheffield Hallam (a Conservative hold). Osborn retired at the 1987 general election.
  • Jim Prior (Conservative). Elected for Lowestoft, unseating the sitting Labour MP, Edward Evans. Prior retired at the 1987 general election (his seat had been modified to become Waveney at the 1983 election). He served as Minister for Agriculture from June 1970 to November 1972, and then Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons until March 1974. When the Conservative returned to power in May 1979, he became Employment Secretary, and was moved to Northern Ireland Secretary in September 1981, before leaving the Government in September 1984.
  • Dudley Smith (Conservative). Elected for Brentford & Chiswick (a Conservative hold) but was defeated by Labour's Michael Barnes. Smith returned to Parliament in the Warwick & Leamington by-election of March 1968, caused by the death of the Conservatives' John Hobson. At the 1997 election, Smith was defeated by Labour's James Plaskitt.
  • Alan Thompson (Labour). Elected for Dunfermline Burghs (a Labour hold). Thompson retired at the 1964 election. As the maps from the Boundary Commission for Scotland website show, this was a non-contiguous seat surrounded by Fife West.
  • John Wells (Conservative). Elected for Maidstone (a Conservative hold - the previous MP was Bossom's father). Wells retired at the 1987 election.