Alma Birk, Baroness Birk
|The Right Honourable
The Baroness Birk
|Born||Alma Lillian Wilson
22 September 1917
Brighton, East Sussex, England, UK
|Died||29 December 1996
Westminster, England, UK
Birk was educated at South Hampstead High School and at the London School of Economics. After failing to gain a seat on Salisbury City Council, she gained a seat on Finchley Borough Council and served as leader of the Labour Group between 1950 and 1953. She unsuccessfully stood as a Labour Party candidate to become a Member of Parliament on three occasions; for Ruislip-Northwood in the 1950 general election, and for Portsmouth West in the 1951 and 1955 general elections.
Birk was created a life peer as Baroness Birk, of Regent's Park in Greater London, on 15 September 1967. In her maiden speech she called for an enhanced probation service to help deal with juvenile crime:
I would like to see a bigger probation service, better paid, because a probation officer is sometimes the only person with whom the young person can create a stable relationship, which is absolutely essential.
In 1969 she was made chairman of the Health Education Council. She served as a Baroness in Waiting between March and October 1974. From 1974 to 1979 she was a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department of the Environment, and then became Minister of State in the Privy Council Office in 1979. In opposition, she spoke in the House of Lords on the environment between 1979 and 1986, and on arts, libraries, heritage and broadcasting between 1986 and 1993.
She was Chairman of Redbridge Jewish Youth Centre between 1970 and 1996 and on the Executive of the Council of Christians and Jews between 1971 and 1977. She was President of the Association of Art Institutions from 1984 to 1996, and President of the Craft Arts Design Association from 1984 to 1990.
She married newspaper executive Ellis Birk in 1939 and they had two children.
- Pottle, Mark (October 2008). "Birk , Alma Lillian, Baroness Birk (1917–1996)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/64015. Retrieved 2009-05-29. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
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