Chris Patten: Wikis

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The Right Honourable
 The Lord Patten of Barnes 
CH PC


Incumbent
Assumed office 
20 September 2003
Preceded by Lord Jenkins of Hillhead

In office
9 July 1992 – 30 June 1997
Monarch Elizabeth II
Preceded by David Wilson
Succeeded by Office Abolished

In office
10 June 1999 – 22 November 2004
Preceded by Leon Brittan
Succeeded by Benita Ferrero-Waldner

In office
28 November 1990 – 10 April 1992
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by Kenneth Baker
Succeeded by Norman Fowler

In office
24 July 1989 – 28 November 1990
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Nicholas Ridley
Succeeded by Michael Heseltine

In office
28 November 1990 – 10 April 1992
Prime Minister John Major
Preceded by Kenneth Baker
Succeeded by William Waldegrave

In office
10 September 1986 – 24 July 1989
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Timothy Raison
Succeeded by Lynda Chalker

In office
5 October 1999 – 5 October 2009
Preceded by Viscount Ridley
Succeeded by Liam Donaldson

Member of Parliament
for Bath
In office
3 May 1979 – 9 April 1992
Preceded by Sir Edward Brown
Succeeded by Don Foster

Born 12 May 1944 (1944-05-12) (age 65)
Cleveleys, Lancashire, UK
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Lavender Patten
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford
Religion Roman Catholic[1]

Christopher Francis Patten, Baron Patten of Barnes, CH, PC (born 12 May 1944) is a British Conservative politician, and a Patron of the Tory Reform Group.

He was a Member of Parliament, eventually rising to a cabinet minister and party chairman. In the latter capacity, he orchestrated the Conservatives' unexpected fourth consecutive electoral victory in 1992, but lost his own seat in the House of Commons.

He then accepted the post of Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Hong Kong, and oversaw its return to China in July 1997. From 2000 to 2004 he served as one of Britain's two members of the European Commission. After leaving that post, he returned to the UK and was elevated to the peerage in 2005. He is the Chancellor of the University of Oxford.

Contents

Early life

Chris Patten was educated at the independent St Benedict's School in Ealing, West London, and at Balliol College, Oxford. He worked in the Conservative Party from 1966, first as desk officer and then director (from 1974 to 1979) of the Conservative Research Department.

Member of Parliament

In government

Patten was a Member of Parliament from 1979 to 1992, serving as Minister for Overseas Development at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1986 to 1989.

In 1989 he was appointed to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for the Environment and became responsible for the unpopular Poll Tax. Though he robustly defended the policy at the time, in his 2006 book Not Quite the Diplomat (published in the United States as Cousins and Strangers: America, Britain and Europe in the New Century) he claims to have thought it was a mistake on Margaret Thatcher's part. He also introduced, and steered through Parliament, the major legislation that became the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

In 1990, John Major made Patten Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Chairman of the Conservative Party, with responsibility for organising the coming general election campaign. As party chairman, he was widely considered to be the main architect of the somewhat unexpected Conservative victory in the 1992 election. However, he lost his seat for Bath to the Liberal Democrat candidate, Don Foster, in 1992. Patten's defeat was attributed to several factors: the Poll Tax that he implemented which was especially unpopular in his constituency, and his duties as party chairman that prevented him from much local campaigning.

Governor of Hong Kong

Had Patten been re-elected in 1992, he might have been rewarded by appointment as Foreign Secretary, although in his autobiography John Major said that he would have made Patten Chancellor of the Exchequer. However, in the three weeks leading up to the election, many party insiders sensed that Patten would lose his seat, and Major was considering a patronage appointment.

In any event, in July 1992, he became the 28th and the last Governor of Hong Kong until its handover to the People's Republic of China on 30 June 1997. He was given an official Chinese name, Pang Ting Hong/Peng Dingkang (Chinese: 彭定康), a name with an etymology based on the words "stability" and "health", before which he was known in Hong Kong as "BRIT" with an imperialist taint. Unlike most previous Hong Kong Governors, he was not a career bureaucrat from the UK Foreign Office but a politician. However, he was not the first former MP to become a Governor of Hong Kong: that was John Bowring (Governor of Hong Kong 1854–1859). Also, John Pope Hennessy (Governor of Hong Kong 1877-1882), was a Conservative MP before he entered Colonial Service.

Patten's tenure faced several different challenges, as many in Hong Kong were still reeling from the Tiananmen Square Massacre a few years earlier, while others were suspicious of whether or not the British would act in their best interest. However the general opinion regarded him positively. He took steps to get in touch with the people of the colony, and was known for his penchant for taking public strolls around Hong Kong as well as in the media limelight. Hong Kong affectionately nicknamed him Fat Pang or Fei Peng (Chinese: 肥彭), making him the only governor to have a Chinese nickname.[2]

Patten's most controversial actions are related to the election of the Hong Kong Legislative Council. Legco members returned in 1995 were originally to serve beyond the handover, thereby providing institutional continuity across the reversion of Hong Kong to the PRC. Beijing had expected that the use of functional constituencies with limited electorates would be used to elect this council, however Patten extended the definition of functional constituencies and thus virtually every Hong Kong subject was able to vote for the so-called indirectly elected members (see Politics of Hong Kong) of the Legislative Council.

Not surprisingly, his measure was strongly criticised by the pro-Beijing political parties of Hong Kong, which would suffer from the electoral changes[citation needed]. Patten was also denounced by the PRC government as the 'whore of the East,' a 'serpent' and a 'criminal who would be condemned for a thousand generations' (Chinese: 千古罪人)[3]. The legislative council which was elected under Patten's governorship was dissolved upon the handover of Hong Kong to the PRC and replaced by a Provisional Legislative Council (Chinese: 臨時立法會) which functioned until elections were held under the previous rules in 1998.

However, Patten's institutional reform gained unprecedented support in Hong Kong and the criticism from the PRC government raised his popularity to a level he had not previously enjoyed in the UK; he was widely seen as standing up for the colony's rights[citation needed]. Not withstanding the electoral controversy, even some of his critics admired his eloquence and praised his efforts to raise the level of debate in the colony. Ending up, the PRC did bow to pressure and after the handover, an increasing portion of seats in the Legco would be directly elected.

At 00:00 HKT 1 July 1997 (16:00 GMT, 30 June 1997), he sent the following telegram:

I HAVE RELINQUISHED THE ADMINISTRATION OF THIS GOVERNMENT. GOD SAVE THE QUEEN. PATTEN.

This marked the end of British rule in Hong Kong and after the handover ceremony he left the city, together with Prince Charles, on board the British royal yacht, HMY Britannia. Patten was noted to be in tears after his speech at the Transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997.[4]

Post governorship

In 1998, Queen Elizabeth II appointed him a Companion of Honour. From 1998 to 1999, he chaired the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland, better known as the Patten Commission, which had been established in 1998 as part of the Belfast Agreement. On 9 September 1999, the Commission produced its report, entitled A New Beginning: Policing in Northern Ireland but popularly known as the Patten Report, which contained 175 symbolic and practical recommendations.[5] This report led to the re-naming of the Royal Ulster Constabulary as the Police Service of Northern Ireland. He is the co-chair of International Crisis Group, overseeing many international operations. He is also a member of the Global Leadership Foundation, an organization which works to promote good governance around the world.[6] On 23 May 2005 he was appointed by Cadbury (formerly Cadbury's) as a non-executive director.[7]

European Commissioner

In 1999, he was appointed as one of the United Kingdom's two members to the European Commission as Commissioner for External Relations where he was responsible for the Union's development and co-operation programmes, as well as liaison with Javier Solana, the High Representative of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. He held this position within the Prodi Commission from 23 January 2000 until 22 November 2004. Patten oversaw many crises in the area of European foreign policy, most notably the failure of the European Union to come up with a common unified policy before the Iraq war in 2003. Although nominated for the post of President in the next Commission in 2004, he was unable to gain support from France and Germany.

University roles and elevation to the Peerage

Lord Patten of Barnes in ceremonial dress as the Chancellor of the University of Oxford

Patten was Chancellor of Newcastle University from 1999 to 2009, and elected Chancellor of the University of Oxford in 2003. In 2005 he was raised to the Peerage as Baron Patten of Barnes, of Barnes in the London Borough of Richmond. In September 2005 he was elected a Distinguished Honorary Fellow of Massey College in the University of Toronto (the only person so elected except for the Chancellor of the University of Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh, the Duke of Edinburgh) as well as receiving an honorary Doctorate of Sacred Letters from the University of Trinity College, Toronto and an honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Ulster.[8] In March 2009, Patten received the title Doctor Honoris Causa by South East European University.

Personal life

Lord Patten of Barnes is married to Lavender, who is a barrister. They have three daughters, Kate, Laura (married to Elton Charles), and Alice Patten (actress); and two Norfolk terriers, Whisky and Soda.

On 29 September 2005, he published his memoirs, Not Quite the Diplomat: Home Truths About World Affairs.

In the media

Patten was interviewed about the rise of Thatcherism for the 2006 BBC TV documentary series Tory! Tory! Tory!.

Books

  • Chris Patten (1983). The Tory Case. Longman Higher Education. ISBN 0-582-29612-9. 
  • Chris Patten (1997). Letters to Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Information Services Department.
  • Chris Patten (1998). East and West: The Last Governor of Hong Kong on Power Freedom and the Future. Pan Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-74787-2. 
  • Chris Patten (2005). Not Quite the Diplomat: Home Truths About World Affairs. Allen Lane. ISBN 0-7139-9855-5. 
  • Chris Patten (2006). Cousins and Strangers: America, Britain, and Europe in a New Century. Times Books. ISBN 0-8050-7788-X. 
  • Chris Patten (2008). What Next? Surviving the Twenty-First Century. Allen Lane. ISBN 978-0-7139-9856-6. 

References

Bibliography

  • Jonathan Dimbleby (1997). The Last Governor. ISBN 0-316-18583-3. 
  • Chris Patten (2005). Not Quite the Diplomat: Home Truths About World Affairs. Allen Lane. ISBN 0-7139-9855-5. 

External links

Offices held

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Edward Brown
Member of Parliament for Bath
197992
Succeeded by
Don Foster
Political offices
Preceded by
Timothy Raison
Minister for Overseas Development
1986–89
Succeeded by
Lynda Chalker
Preceded by
Nicholas Ridley
Secretary of State for the Environment
1989–90
Succeeded by
Michael Heseltine
Preceded by
Kenneth Baker
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
1990–92
Succeeded by
William Waldegrave
Preceded by
Neil Kinnock and
Leon Brittan
European Commissioner from the United Kingdom
1999–2004
with Neil Kinnock
Succeeded by
Peter Mandelson
Preceded by
Leon Brittan
European Commissioner for External Relations
1999–2004
Succeeded by
Benita Ferrero-Waldner
Party political offices
Preceded by
Kenneth Baker
Chairman of the Conservative Party
1990–92
Succeeded by
Sir Norman Fowler
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir David Wilson
Governor of Hong Kong
1992–97
Succeeded by
Tung Chee Hwa
as Chief Executive of Hong Kong
Transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong
Preceded by
Sir David Ford
President of the Legislative Council
1992–93
Succeeded by
John Joseph Swaine
Academic offices
Preceded by
The Viscount Ridley
Chancellor of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne
1999–2009
Succeeded by
Liam Donaldson
Preceded by
The Lord Jenkins of Hillhead
Chancellor of the University of Oxford
2003–present
Incumbent

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