|The Right Honourable
The Lord Patten of Barnes
|Chairman of the BBC Trust|
1 May 2011
|Vice Chairman||Diane Coyle|
|Preceded by||Sir Michael Lyons|
|Chancellor of the University of Oxford|
20 September 2003
|Vice Chancellor||Colin Lucas
Andrew D. Hamilton
|Preceded by||The Lord Jenkins of Hillhead|
|Chancellor of the University of Newcastle|
5 October 1999 – 5 October 2009
|Preceded by||The Viscount Ridley|
|Succeeded by||Sir Liam Donaldson|
|European Commissioner for External Relations|
16 September 1999 – 22 November 2004
|Preceded by||Leon Brittan|
|Succeeded by||Benita Ferrero-Waldner|
|Governor of Hong Kong|
9 July 1992 – 30 June 1997
|Preceded by||The Lord Wilson of Tillyorn|
|Succeeded by||Office dissolved|
|Chairman of the Conservative Party|
28 November 1990 – 11 May 1992
|Preceded by||Kenneth Baker|
|Succeeded by||Norman Fowler|
|Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster|
28 November 1990 – 10 April 1992
|Prime Minister||John Major|
|Preceded by||Kenneth Baker|
|Succeeded by||William Waldegrave|
|Secretary of State for the Environment|
24 July 1989 – 28 November 1990
|Prime Minister||Margaret Thatcher|
|Preceded by||Nicholas Ridley|
|Succeeded by||Michael Heseltine|
|Minister for Overseas Development|
10 September 1986 – 24 July 1989
|Prime Minister||Margaret Thatcher|
|Preceded by||Timothy Raison|
|Succeeded by||Lynda Chalker|
|Member of Parliament
3 May 1979 – 9 April 1992
|Preceded by||Edward Brown|
|Succeeded by||Don Foster|
12 May 1944 |
Cleveleys, England, UK
|Conservative (until 2011)|
|Spouse(s)||Lavender Thornton Patten|
|Alma mater||Balliol College, Oxford|
Patten began his career in the Conservative Party (UK), serving as Member of Parliament for Bath and joining the cabinet. As party chairman he orchestrated the Conservatives' unexpected fourth consecutive electoral victory in 1992 but lost his own seat in the House of Commons. He accepted a posting as the last Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Hong Kong, and oversaw its handover to the People's Republic of China in July 1997. As Governor and Commander-in-Chief, Patten presided over a steady rise in the living standards of Hong Kongers while encouraging a significant expansion of Hong Kong's social welfare system.
From 1999 to 2004 he served as one of the United Kingdom's two members of the European Commission. He returned to the UK and became Chancellor of the University of Oxford in 2003. He was made a life peer in 2005. On 7 April 2011 the Queen approved Patten's appointment as the Chairman of the BBC Trust, the governing body of the British Broadcasting Corporation.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Member of Parliament
- 3 Governor of Hong Kong
- 4 Post-governorship
- 5 Chairman of the BBC Trust
- 6 Charity
- 7 Personal life
- 8 In the media
- 9 Criticism of Sri Lanka
- 10 Books
- 11 Honours
- 12 References
- 13 Bibliography
- 14 External links
- 15 Offices held
Chris Patten's father, Frank, a jazz-drummer turned popular-music publisher and his mother Joan sent him to a Catholic primary school, Our Lady of the Visitation, in Greenford, and later the independent St Benedict's School in Ealing, west London where he won an exhibition to study history at Balliol College, Oxford - the first member of his family to attend university.
After graduating in 1965, Patten worked for the campaign of then-Republican New York Mayor John Lindsay, where he reported on the television performance of rival William F. Buckley, Jr. He worked for 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 1989 he was appointed to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for the Environment and became responsible for the unpopular Community Charge (or so-called "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 marginal seat of Bath to the Liberal Democrat candidate Don Foster in 1992. Patten's defeat was attributed to several factors: the Poll Tax that he implemented, and his other commitments which prevented him from campaigning in his constituency.
Governor of Hong Kong
If Patten had been re-elected in 1992, sections of the media thought he would 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.
Patten turned down offers of a new seat and instead, 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 Ding-hong (Chinese: 彭定康), a name with an etymology based on the words "stability" and "health". Unlike most previous Hong Kong Governors, he was not a career diplomat from the UK Foreign Office although he was not the first former MP to become a Governor of Hong Kong.
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 (Chinese: 肥彭), making him the only governor to have a widely recognised Chinese nickname. Patten was also the only British Governor of the colony not to wear the official Windsor uniform (also known as the Court uniform).
Patten's most controversial actions are related to the 1994 Hong Kong electoral reform. 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.
His measure was strongly criticised by the pro-Beijing political parties of Hong Kong, which would suffer from the electoral changes. Patten was also denounced by some Chinese media as the 'whore of the East,' a 'serpent' and a 'wrongdoer who would be condemned for a thousand generations' (Chinese: 千古罪人). 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. Notwithstanding the electoral controversy, even some of his critics admired his eloquence and praised his efforts to raise the level of debate in the colony.
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.
In 1998, Queen Elizabeth II appointed him a Companion of Honour (CH). 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 and popularly known as the Patten Report, which contained 175 symbolic and practical recommendations. This report led to the renaming 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 organisation which works to promote good governance around the world. On 23 May 2005 he was appointed by Cadbury as a non-executive director.
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.
According to information from WikiLeaks Patten was in Moscow in April 2004, and had concluded EU-Russia ministerial consultations in Brussels. He considered that the EU had become overly dependent on Russian energy supplies, and should become more engaged with the countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia in order to diversify supplies.
According to information from the US Embassy in Brussels (published by Wikileaks in November 2010): Patten said in April 2004 that Russian President Vladimir Putin has done a good job for Russia mainly due to high world energy prices, but he had serious doubts about the man’s character. Cautioning that “I’m not saying that genes are determinant,” Patten then reviewed the Putin family history – grandfather part of Lenin’s special protection team; father a communist party apparatchik, and Putin himself decided at a young age to pursue a career in the KGB. “He seems a completely reasonable man when discussing the Middle East or energy policy, but when the conversation shifts to Chechnya or Islamic extremism, Putin’s eyes turn to those of a killer.”
University roles and elevation to the Peerage
In 2003 he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Bath. 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. In March 2009, Patten received the title Doctor Honoris Causa by South East European University.
Chairman of the BBC Trust
On the advice of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government led by Prime Minister David Cameron Lord Patten of Barnes was appointed by the Queen-in-Council as Chairman of the BBC Trust, and he took office on 1 May 2011, in the place of Sir Michael Lyons whose contract was not renewed.
BBC Royal River Pageant Outside Broadcast
As Chairman of the BBC Trust, Lord Patten joined the Prince of Wales and other members of the royal family in the royal box for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert. It came, however, immediately in the wake of widespread criticism of the BBC's live outside-broadcast coverage of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee River Pageant on 3 June 2012 which was castigated in the press and was the subject of 1,830 formal complaints by viewers. Lord Patten said afterwards the Royal Pageant had not been the BBC's "finest hour" and admitted that "The tone was wrong.” 
Jimmy Savile scandal
In October 2012 ITV broadcast a documentary revealing that the late Sir Jimmy Savile, a prominent BBC performer and children's television presenter for more than thirty years, had been a serial child-abuser and rapist. Police subsequently received more than 400 complaints from alleged former victims. After an initially faltering response, the BBC announced the setting up of two independently-led inquiries, one to examine why the BBC's "Newsnight" programme had dropped its own investigation into Savile in 2011, and a second inquiry into the BBC’s "culture and practices" in the years that Savile worked there and whether BBC child-protection and whistleblowing policies were good enough.
On 28 October an article by Lord Patten, as Chairman of the BBC Trust, appeared in the Mail on Sunday newspaper in which he reiterated a public apology over the Savile affair. Patten said "Today, like many who work for the BBC, I feel a sense of particular remorse that abused women spoke to "Newsnight", presumably at great personal pain, yet did not have their stories told as they expected. On behalf of the BBC, I apologise unreservedly". He went on to say "The BBC risks squandering public trust because one of its stars over three decades was apparently a sexual criminal; because he used his programme and popularity as a cover for his wickedness; because he used BBC premises for some of his attacks; and because others – BBC employees and hangers-on – may also have been involved." Patten posed the question "Can it really be the case that no one knew what he was doing?" Patten said Savile had been "received into the heart of the Establishment; feted from Chequers to the Vatican; friend to Royals and editors. How did we let it happen? And could someone like this con us all again?" Patten declared "The BBC must tell the truth and face up to the truth about itself, however terrible".
Lord Patten married Lavender Thornton, a barrister, in 1971. 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 October 2009, Lord Patten was Chief Guest at The Doon School, a boarding school in Dehradun, India, which is a member of the United Kingdom's Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference.
In the media
Patten made as a politician as well as chancellor of the University of Oxford a remarkable comment on Myron Scholes and Robert Merton: ."... it is surely laughable when the highest awards are showered on those who promote the most gimcrack schemes to make themselves rich, at least for a while. The geniuses who invented the pyramid of derivatives at Long-Term Capital Management were awarded the Nobel Prize for their cleverness, not long before the whole edifice came crashing down with the financial community digging deep into its pockets to prevent too much collateral damage. To every excess, there comes a reaction."
Criticism of Sri Lanka
In an Op-Ed contribution in The New York Times (12 January 2010), Patten made the comment,
".....After all, both General Fonseka and Mr. Rajapaksa executed the 30-year conflict to its bloody conclusion at the expense of huge numbers of Tamil civilian casualties. By early May, when the war was ending, the United Nations estimated that some 7,000 civilians had died and more than 10,000 had been wounded in 2009 as the army’s noose was being drawn tight around the remaining LTTE Tamil Tiger rebels and hundreds of thousands of non-combatants, who could not escape government shelling. The final two weeks likely saw thousands more civilians killed, at the hands of both the army and the LTTE rebels."
- 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. McClelland & Stewart. ISBN 978-0-7710-6974-1.
- 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.
- Sir William Robinson, Sir Mark Young and Patten are the only Governors to not have any honours bestowed upon them in Hong Kong after completion of their terms of office.
- "The Search for Peace: Chris Patten". BBC News Northern Ireland. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
- The Last Governor: Chris Patten and the Handover of Hong Kong by Jonathan Dimbleby
- "New Chairman and Vice Chairman appointed to the BBC'". Prime Minister's Office. 7 April 2011. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
- "The Tablet's Top 100".
- Hilton, Isabel, "Profile: For God and the right", The Independent, 14 November 1993
- Sir John Bowring (Governor of Hong Kong 1854–1859) and Sir John Pope Hennessy (Governor of Hong Kong 1877–1882) - a Conservative MP before he entered the Colonial Service - were predecessors.
- "'India is a big priority' at Oxford". Us.rediff.com. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
- "彭定康：寬宏對待中國罵名". BBC News. 4 April 2002. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
- "BBC ON THIS DAY | 1 | 1997: Hong Kong fireworks". BBC News. 1 July 1997. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
- "CAIN: The Patten Report on Policing: Summary of Recommendations, 9 September 1999". Cain.ulst.ac.uk. 9 September 1999. Archived from the original on 13 May 2008. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
- [dead link]
- Wikileaks cable
- "University Of Ulster News Release – UU Unveils Summer Honorary Graduates". News.ulster.ac.uk. 28 February 2005. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
- Grice, Elizabeth (19 July 2012). "Lord Patten: 'It's not the BBC's job to be jokey'". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- Patten, Lord. "Can it REALLY be that no one inside the smug BBC knew what that psychopath was doing? Chairman questions the corporation he represents". Daily Mail (London).
- "Lord Patten steps down as MAP President". Map-uk.org. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
- The Chancellor - University of Oxford
- Patten, Chris. Not Quite the Diplomat: Home Truths About World Affairs. Allen Lane, November 2005, p. 218
- Patten, Chris (12 January 2010). "Sri Lanka's Choice, and the World's Responsibility". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
- 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.
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Chris Patten
- Chris Patten's profile on BBC News website
- "History in Motion" Chris Patten's monthly op/ed commentary series for Project Syndicate.
- European Commissioner
- Patten Gets Peerage (BBC News Article)
- Still looking for trouble at (nearly) 60 – Jackie Ashley talks to Chris Patten
- His thought patterns (Biswadip Mitra talks to Chris Patten)
- Audio: Chris Patten in conversation on the BBC World Service discussion show The Forum