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The Right Honourable
 The Lord Thorneycroft 
CH PC


In office
13 January 1957 – 6 January 1958
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan
Preceded by Harold Macmillan
Succeeded by Derick Heathcoat-Amory

Born 26 July 1909(1909-07-26)
Died 4 June 1994 (aged 84)
Political party Conservative

George Edward Peter Thorneycroft, Baron Thorneycroft CH, PC (26 July 1909 – 4 June 1994), was a British Conservative Party politician. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1957 and 1958.

Contents

Biography

Thorneycroft was educated at Eton and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. After service in the Royal Artillery from 1931 until 1933 he was called to the bar for Inner Temple. He entered Parliament in a 1938 by-election for the borough of Stafford. During the Second World War he served with the Royal Artillery and the general staff. Along with other members of the Tory Reform Committee, Thorneycroft pressed his party to support the Beveridge Report. He served in the Conservative caretaker government of 1945 as Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of War Transport. In the 1945 general election, he lost his seat to his Labour opponent, Stephen Swingler, but returned in a by-election for Monmouth a few months later.[1]

Throughout the late 1940s Thorneycroft worked assiduously to refurbish the Conservative Party after its disastrous defeat in the 1945 general election. His opposition to the Anglo-American loan in the Commons earned him a reputation as a parliamentary debater, and when the Conservatives returned to power after the general election of 1951 Thorneycroft was named President of the Board of Trade. He was instrumental in persuading the government in 1954 to abandon the party's support for protectionism and accept the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.[2]

Thorneycroft's support for Harold Macmillan in the Macmillan's successful 1957 leadership contest for the premiership led to his appointment as Chancellor of the Exchequer, one of the most senior positions in the government. He resigned in 1958, along with two junior Treasury Ministers, Enoch Powell and Nigel Birch, in objection to increased government expenditure. Macmillan, himself a former Chancellor, made a famous and much-quoted remark to the effect that the resignations were merely "little local difficulties". In reality, Macmillan was deeply concerned about the possible effects of Thorneycroft's resignation, but chose to hide his worries from public view. The phrase is now so well-known that most people do not know what or whom it refers to.

Thorneycroft returned to the Cabinet in 1960 and held a number of posts in government and then in opposition under Macmillan and Alec Douglas-Home. Ted Heath, who became leader of the party in 1965, had been Chief Whip when Thorneycroft resigned in 1958 and had seen the resignation as a betrayal. Thorneycroft lost his seat at the 1966 general election and received a life peerage, taking a seat in the House of Lords as Baron Thorneycroft, of Dunston in the County of Stafford. He was Shadow Defence Secretary from 1964 to 1965.

Thorneycroft was a strong supporter of Margaret Thatcher's monetarist policies, and she made him Chairman of the Conservative Party in 1975. He held this position until 1981. He was notable as an amateur watercolourist and held exhibitions.[citation needed]

Family

After his first marriage and divorce, he remarried to Carla, Contessa Roberti (later known as Lady Thorneycroft, DBE) in 1949. He had a son by his first wife, and a daughter by his second wife.

References

  1. ^ Obituary: Lord Thorneycroft - People, News - The Independent
  2. ^ Robert Shepard, "Theorneycroft, (George Edward) Peter", in The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century British Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 642

Further reading

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William Ormsby-Gore
Member of Parliament for Stafford
1938–1945
Succeeded by
Stephen Swingler
Preceded by
Leslie Pym
Member of Parliament for Monmouth
19451966
Succeeded by
Donald Anderson
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Hartley Shawcross
President of the Board of Trade
1951–1957
Succeeded by
Sir David Eccles
Preceded by
Harold Macmillan
Chancellor of the Exchequer
1957–1958
Succeeded by
Derick Heathcoat-Amory
Preceded by
Duncan Sandys
Minister of Aviation
1960–1962
Succeeded by
Julian Amery
Preceded by
Harold Watkinson
Minister of Defence
1962–1964
Succeeded by
Himself
as Secretary of State for Defence
Preceded by
Himself
as Minister of Defence
Secretary of State for Defence
1964
Succeeded by
Denis Healey
Party political offices
Preceded by
William Whitelaw
Chairman of the Conservative Party
1975–1981
Succeeded by
Cecil Parkinson
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