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Michael Colvin

Member of Parliament
for Romsey
Romsey and Waterside (1983-1997)
In office
9 June 1983 – 24 February 2000
Preceded by Constituency Established
Succeeded by Sandra Gidley

Member of Parliament
for Bristol North West
In office
3 May 1979 – 9 June 1983
Preceded by Ronald Thomas
Succeeded by Michael Stern

Born 27 September 1932(1932-09-27)
Died 24 February 2000 (aged 67)
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Nichola Cayzer
Alma mater Royal Agricultural College

Michael Keith Beale Colvin (27 September 1932 – 24 February 2000) was a politician in the United Kingdom. He was first elected as a Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Bristol North West in 1979. From 1983 onwards he was the MP for Romsey and Waterside constituency in Hampshire, which later became the constituency of Romsey.

In 1989 he sponsored a Private Member's Bill which became the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

He held the seat in the 1997 general election, but died along with his wife in a fire at their house, Tangley House, near Andover, three years later[1] The resulting by-election was won by Sandra Gidley of the Liberal Democrats.

Life outside politics

Michael Colvin was born the son of Captain Ivan Beale Colvin RN and Joy Arbuthnot. He has a brother Alistair Colvin four years younger.

He was educated at West Downs School, Winchester; Eton College; and the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. At 18 he went into the Grenadier Guards, serving in Berlin, Suez and Cyprus, emerging as a captain. He studied at the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester.

He married Nichola Cayzer, the daughter of William Cayzer, Baron Cayzer, top man in the British and Commonwealth shipping company. They had three children. Initially, he worked for four years in advertising with the agency J Walter Thompson, then for 14 years as a director of Accrep Ltd, a property investment firm. He and his wife were Lloyd's 'Names'.

He was a friend of Charles, Prince of Wales, but a sharp critic of Princess Diana.

He also became briefly the owner of the Cricketers' Arms in Tangley, to save it for the village.

Political career

Initially, his political ambitions were satisfied in local government. He was elected to Tangley parish council for 12 years from 1964, to Andover rural district council for seven years from 1965, and to Hampshire county council for five years from 1970. His first parliamentary seat was Bristol North West, which he captured from Labour in 1979, when Margaret Thatcher achieved power. He showed political ambivalence, urging a new centre party on the one hand, but also calling for privatisation of NHS services. He showed his commitment to the doomed rightwing, white forces in Africa by endorsing the South-African-backed anti-SWAPO regime in Namibia in 1981.

In 1983 he switched to the new, much safer seat of Romsey and Waterside, stretching out from the Southampton suburbs. As a Cayzer son-in-law, he opposed the phasing out of tax allowances on new shipbuilding and urged a larger, more modern merchant marine fleet. He opposed the slicing off of BA's routes just when it was becoming successful. He favoured easier conditions for pub licencees.

He was a leader of the post-Hungerford and post-Dunblane "gun lobby" and a supporter of field sports. He was also a somewhat secretive former propagandist for apartheid South Africa and a friend of other lobbyists such as Ian Greer, Neil Hamilton, who would later be disgraced in the cash for questions scandal, and Derek Laud. But he was not monochromatic. He was liberal on abortion, favoured free eye and dental treatment, and would have preferred the whites he backed in southern Africa to be more reformist.

Above all, he was a defence and aviation specialist, serving on the Defence Select Committee, which he chaired from 1995 to 1997. On Tuesday, two days before he died, he made a 25-minute speech, the longest in the Commons defence debate. His swansong deplored the forces' manpower shortage, which he attributed to the Ministry of Defence losing battles with the Treasury.

But above all, he spoke up for the whites of southern Africa, particularly after twice visiting apartheid South Africa and Bophuthatswana as a guest of their governments, first in 1986. He was liberal enough to support reformist Dennis Worral's 1987 election campaign. But in 1988 he criticised the BBC for broadcasting its Mandela concert tribute.

In 1989 he visited Bophuthatswana again and Angola as a guest of Unita, backed by the CIA and South Africa. He also welcomed the visit of FW de Klerk to Britain and condemned a telecast by Peter Hain and anything emanating from Anti-Apartheid sources. Such views led him to become in 1991 a consultant, at £10,000 a year - replacing Neil Hamilton - to Strategic Network International, a lobbyist front organised, possibly unbeknown to him, by pre-Mandela South African intelligence organisations.

Later, he became a director, with the black Tory, Derek Laud, of the Laud Ludgate lobbying organisation.

As chairman of the Council for Country Sports from 1988, Colvin stepped up his opposition to gun-control and bans on foxhunting. As captain of the Commons shooting club, he opposed the conversion of its shooting range into a creche.


Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Ronald Thomas
Member of Parliament for Bristol North West
Succeeded by
Michael Stern
New constituency Member of Parliament for Romsey and Waterside
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Romsey
Succeeded by
Sandra Gidley


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