David Howell, Baron Howell of Guildford

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For other people named David Howell, see David Howell (disambiguation).
The Right Honourable
The Lord Howell of Guildford
David Howell, Baron Howell of Guildford.jpg
Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
In office
14 May 2010 – 5 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Secretary of State for Transport
In office
14 September 1981 – 11 June 1983
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Norman Fowler
Succeeded by Tom King
Secretary of State for Energy
In office
4 May 1979 – 14 September 1981
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Tony Benn
Succeeded by Nigel Lawson
Member of Parliament
for Guildford
In office
31 March 1966 – 1 May 1997
Preceded by George Nugent
Succeeded by Nick St Aubyn
Personal details
Born (1936-01-18) 18 January 1936 (age 79)
London, United Kingdom
Political party Conservative
Alma mater King's College, Cambridge

David Arthur Russell Howell, Baron Howell of Guildford, PC (born 18 January 1936), is a British Conservative politician, journalist, and economic consultant. Having been successively Secretary of State for Energy and then for Transport under Margaret Thatcher, Howell has more recently been a Minister of State in the Foreign Office from the election in 2010 until the reshuffle of 2012. Along with William Hague, Sir George Young and Kenneth Clarke, he is one of the few Cabinet ministers from the 1979–97 governments who still holds high office in the party, being its deputy leader in the House of Lords. His daughter, Frances, is married to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Conservative MP George Osborne.[1]


Howell is the son of Colonel Arthur Howard Eckford Howell (son of Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Alfred Russell Howell), and his wife (m. 9 April 1931) Beryl Stuart Bowater (daughter of Sir Frank Henry Bowater, 1st Baronet and Ethel Anita Fryar). Howell's father lived at 5 Headford Place, London, and gained the rank of colonel in the service of the Royal Artillery and was decorated with the awards of the Territorial Decoration (TD) and Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO).

Early life[edit]

Chapel of Eton College

Howell was educated at Eton College, then King's College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1959 with a Master of Arts (MA). He worked in HM Treasury with the Treasury Economic Section from 1959–60, in which year he wrote the book Principles to Practice, published 1960, jointly, and then spent four years between then and 1964 as a journalist, leader writer and special correspondent on The Daily Telegraph and as editor of Crossbow (the journal of the Bow Group) from 1962–64 before he unsuccessfully contested the constituency of Dudley in the 1964 general election.[1][2] He then became the Director of the Conservative Political Centre between 1964 and 1966 and wrote the book The Conservative Opportunity, published 1965.

Political career[edit]

Two years later, in 1966, he was elected MP for the safe seat of Guildford in Surrey, for the Conservative Party, a position he retained until retiring at the 1997 general election, on 6 June 1997 he was made a life peer as Baron Howell of Guildford, of Penton Mewsey, in the County of Hampshire.[3][1]

Howell, a junior minister in the Edward Heath Government (1970–74), served as Lord Commissioner of Treasury between 1970 and 1971 and Parliamentary Secretary for the Civil Service Department between 1970 and 1972, and played a key role in the establishment of the Central Policy Review Staff, a "central capability" policy unit based in the Cabinet Office. He also held the offices of Under-Secretary for Employment (1971–72), Under-Secretary for Northern Ireland (1972), Minister of State for Northern Ireland (1972–74) and Minister of State for Energy (1974).

When Margaret Thatcher was elected in 1979, she made Howell her first Secretary of State for Energy and then moved him to Transport in the reshuffle of September 1981 and until 1983. During that time he wrote the book Freedom and Capital, published 1981. In 1979 he was also sworn into the Privy Council. He then wrote the book Blind Victory: a study in income, wealth and power, published 1986. In 1987 he became chairman of the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs.[1] He later wrote the book The Edge of Now: new questions for democracy in the network age, published 2000, and was decorated with the award of Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure of Japan in 2001.

Since 2000, he has been the chairman of the British Institute of Energy Economics, and chairman of the Windsor Energy Group since 2003.[4]

In the House of Lords, he was Deputy Leader of the Opposition from 2005 to 2010 and Opposition Spokesperson for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from 2000 to 2010.[5]

From the election of May 2010 until the reshuffle of 2012, Lord Howell served as Minister of State in the Foreign Office in David Cameron's government, under William Hague as Foreign Secretary. From September 2012 to April 2013, he was personal adviser to the Foreign Secretary on Energy and Resource Security.[5]

In November 2012, Greenpeace released secret film of an interview with Lord Howell about the advantages of natural gas over wind power, in which he said that David Cameron "is not familiar with these issues, doesn't understand them", but that George Osborne, his son-in-law, "is of course getting this message and is putting pressure on".[6]

In May 2013, he was appointed president of the Energy Industries Council.[7]

In July 2013, he said, in a Lords' discussion on fracking, "there are large, uninhabited and desolate areas, certainly in parts of the north-east, where there is plenty of room for fracking, well away from anybody's residence, and where it could be conducted without any threat to the rural environment".[8] After much adverse reaction,[9] he apologised, and said he was thinking of drilling off the Lancashire coast, not the north-east.[10] He went on to say he wanted the derricks in "unloved places".

Marriage and issue[edit]

Lord Howell married in 1967 Cary Davina Wallace, daughter of David John Wallace (born 1914, killed in action, World War II, Greece, 1944, son of Euan Wallace by first wife Idina Sackville) and wife (m. 1939) Joan Prudence Magor (who later remarried on 3 March 1948 Gerald Frederick Walter de Winton), and had three children:

  • Hon. Frances Victoria Howell (b. 18 February 1969), a writer, wife of George Gideon Oliver Osborne MP
  • Hon. Katherine "Kate" Davina Howell (born 6 October 1970), wife of Paul Bain, by whom she had Jack-Daniel Maconald (b. 22 June 1992) and Oliver Bartholomew (b. 20 September 1995)
  • Hon. Tobias "Toby" David Howell (b. 1975), unmarried and without issue



  • Charles Mosley, editor, Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), volume 1, pages 51 and 456.
  • Charles Mosley, Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 107th edition, volume 2, page 1989.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Nugent
Member of Parliament for Guildford
Succeeded by
Nick St Aubyn
Political offices
Preceded by
Tony Benn
Secretary of State for Energy
Succeeded by
Nigel Lawson
Preceded by
Norman Fowler
Secretary of State for Transport
Succeeded by
Tom King