|The Right Honourable
The Lord Duncan-Sandys
|Secretary of State for Defence|
14 January 1957 – 14 October 1959
|Prime Minister||Harold Macmillan|
|Preceded by||Anthony Head|
|Succeeded by||Harold Watkinson|
|Secretary of State for the Colonies|
13 July 1962 – 16 October 1964
|Prime Minister||Harold Macmillan
Sir Alec Douglas-Home
|Preceded by||Reginald Maudling|
|Succeeded by||Anthony Greenwood|
|Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations|
27 July 1960 – 13 July 1962
|Prime Minister||Harold Macmillan|
|Preceded by||The Earl of Home|
|Succeeded by||Arthur Bottomley|
|Member of Parliament
23 February 1950 – 23 February 1974
|Preceded by||Sir David Robertson|
|Succeeded by||William Shelton|
|Member of Parliament
14 March 1935 – 5 July 1945
|Preceded by||Sir Walter Greaves-Lord|
|Succeeded by||Ronald Chamberlain|
|Born||24 January 1908|
|Died||26 November 1987(aged 79)|
|Spouse(s)||Diana Churchill (1935–1960)
Marie-Claire Schmitt (1962–1987)
|Relations||George John Sandys (father)
Winston Churchill (father-in-law)
Edwina (b. 1938)
Celia (b. 1943)
Laura (b. 1964)
|Alma mater||Eton College
Magdalen College, Oxford
|Years of service||1937–1946|
|Unit||British Expeditionary Force|
Duncan Edwin Sandys, Baron Duncan-Sandys, CH PC (24 January 1908 – 26 November 1987) was a British politician and minister in successive Conservative governments in the 1950s and 1960s. He was for some years the son-in-law of Sir Winston Churchill.
Sandys was the son of George John Sandys, a Conservative member of parliament (1910–1918) and was educated at Eton College and Magdalen College, Oxford. He entered the diplomatic service in 1930, serving at the Foreign Office in London as well as at the embassy in Berlin.
He became Conservative Party Member of Parliament (MP) for Norwood in South London in a by-election in March 1935. In the same year, he married Diana Churchill, daughter of the future prime minister (after being opposed at Norwood by a candidate put up by Randolph Churchill).
The Duncan Sandys case
In 1938 Sandys asked questions in the House of Commons on matters of national security. He was subsequently approached by two unidentified men, presumably representing the secret services, and threatened with prosecution under section 6 of the Official Secrets Act 1920. Sandys reported the matter to the Committee of Privileges who held that the disclosures of Parliament were not subject to the legislation though an MP could be disciplined by the House. The Official Secrets Act 1939 was enacted in reaction to this incident.
In 1937 Sandys was commissioned into the 51st (London) Anti-Aircraft Brigade, Royal Artillery, Territorial Army. During World War II he fought with the British Expeditionary Force in Norway and was wounded in action in 1941, giving him a permanent limp. From this time he had a desk job as the Finance Member of the Army Council. His father-in-law gave him his first ministerial post during the wartime Coalition Government. While a Minister he was also Chairman of a War Cabinet Committee for defence against German flying bombs and rockets, where he frequently clashed with the scientist and intelligence expert RV Jones. However, he lost his seat in the 1945 general election. He resigned his commission as a lieutenant-colonel in 1946.
Sandys was responsible for establishing the European Movement in Britain in 1947 and served as a member of the European Consultative Assembly in 1950 to 1951. He was elected to Parliament once again in 1950 for Streatham and, when the Conservatives regained power, he was appointed as Minister of Supply in 1951. For most of his time as Minister of Supply, his Private Secretary was Jack Charles. As Minister of Housing from 1954, he introduced the Clean Air Act and in 1955 introduced green belts. He was appointed Minister of Defence in 1957 and quickly produced the 1957 Defence White Paper that proposed a radical shift in the Royal Air Force by ending the use of fighter aircraft in favour of missile technology. Though later Ministers reversed the policy, the lost orders and cuts in research were responsible for several British aircraft manufacturers going out of business. As Minister of Defence he saw the rationalization (i.e., merger) of much of the British military aircraft and engine industry.
He divorced his first wife (Diana Churchill) in 1960 and married Marie-Claire (née Schmitt, previously married to Viscount Hudson) in 1962, the marriage lasting until his death. It has long been speculated that he may have been the 'headless man' whose identity was concealed during the (then considered) scandalous divorce trial of Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, in 1963.
Sandys continued as a minister at the Commonwealth Relations Office, later combining it with the Colonies Office, until the Conservative government fell from power in 1964. In this role he was responsible for granting several colonies their independence and was involved in managing the British response to several conflicts involving the armed forces of the newly independent countries of East Africa.
He remained in the Shadow Cabinet until 1966 when he was sacked by Edward Heath. He had strongly supported Ian Smith in the dispute over Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence. He was not offered a post when the Conservatives won the 1970 general election, but instead served as Leader of the United Kingdom delegation to the Council of Europe and Western European Union until 1972 when he announced his retirement. The next year he was made a Companion of Honour.
In 1974 he retired from Parliament and was awarded a life peerage. He followed the example of George Brown and incorporated his first name in the title Baron Duncan-Sandys, of the City of Westminster. He was an active early member of the Conservative Monday Club.
Children of Diana Churchill and Lord Duncan-Sandys:
- The Hon. Julian Sandys (19 September 1936 – 15 August 1997)
- The Hon. Edwina Sandys (b. 22 December 1938)
- The Hon. Celia Sandys (b. 18 May 1943); married firstly Michael Kennedy and secondly Dennis Walters (divorced 1979).
He has another child, The Hon. Laura Sandys, Conservative Member of Parliament for Thanet South, by his second wife Marie Claire Schmitt, although Laura is often reported incorrectly to be 'related to Winston Churchill'.
Among his other interests were historic architecture. He formed the Civic Trust in 1956 and was its President; the Royal Institution of British Architects made him an honorary Fellow in 1968, and the Royal Town Planning Institute made him an honorary member. He was also a trustee of the World Security Trust.
His business activities included a Directorship of the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation, which was later part of Lonrho of which he became Chairman. He was therefore caught up in the scandal in which Lonrho was revealed to have bribed several African countries and broken international sanctions against Rhodesia, as well as the "unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism" episode involving 8 Directors being sacked by Tiny Rowland.
- The name Sandys is pronounced sandz (like the plural of sand).
- Hansard, 2 May 1935, cols.595-598.
- House of Commons Paper 101 (1938-1939)
- Clive Ponting, The Right to Know: The inside story of the Belgrano affair, Sphere Books, 1985
- RV Jones, Most Secret War, Hamilton, 1978
- 'Headless men' in sex scandal finally named, The Guardian, 10 August 2000
- Cowling, Maurice, The Impact of Hitler - British Policies and Policy 1933-1940, Cambridge University Press, 1975, p. 415, ISBN 0-521-20582-4
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Duncan Sandys
- 'Headless men' in sex scandal finally named - The Guardian, Thursday August 10, 2000.
- Obituary, New York Times Nov 7 1987
- Coalition Government
- 20 July 1941 – 7 February 1943, Financial Secretary to the War Office
- 7 February 1943 – 21 November 1944, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Supply
- 21 November 1944 – 25 May 1945, Minister of Works
- Caretaker Government
- 25 May 1945 – 26 July 1945, Minister of Works
- Conservative Government
- 31 October 1951 – 18 October 1954, Minister of Supply
- 18 October 1954 – 13 January 1957, Minister of Housing and Local Government
- 13 January 1957 – 14 October 1959, Minister of Defence
- 14 October 1959 – 27 July 1960, Minister of Aviation
- 27 July 1960 – 13 July 1962, Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations
- 13 July 1962 – 16 October 1964, Secretary of State for the Colonies and Commonwealth Relations
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|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Sir Walter Greaves-Lord
|Member of Parliament for Norwood
Sir David Robertson
|Member of Parliament for Streatham
|Minister of Defence
|Minister of Aviation
The Earl of Home
|Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations
|Secretary of State for the Colonies