Frank Byers

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Frank Byers

Charles Frank Byers, Baron Byers, OBE, PC, DL (24 July 1915 – 6 February 1984) was a British Liberal Party politician.

Byers was born in Wallasey, Cheshire, moved with the family to Potters Bar and was educated at Westminster School, followed by Christ Church, Oxford, where he won a Blue for athletics. At Oxford he was president of the Union of Liberal Students and president of the University Liberal Club. His treasurer was Harold Wilson, later Labour Party prime minister. He was also an Exchange Scholar at Milton Academy, Massachusetts.[1] While at the University of Oxford, where he gained his Degree in PPE, he met Joan Oliver, whom he married in 1939. They had a son and three daughters. Joan Oliver was a committed Liberal in her own right and was a constant help to her husband during his political career. Byers joined Grays Inn[2] after university but broke off his legal education to enlist. During World War II, Byers served in the Royal Artillery, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and for a time serving on Field Marshal Montgomery's staff. He was mentioned in dispatches three times, was created a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, was awarded the Croix de Guerre and in 1944 was made an OBE.

In the 1945 general election, Byers gained the formerly Conservative seat of North Dorset, although the absence of a Labour candidate was a key factor in this success. In 1946, Byers was appointed Liberal Chief Whip[3] and gained a reputation for hard work and effective organisation both in Parliament and at Liberal Party headquarters.[4] However he was unable to hold North Dorset in 1950, losing by just 97 votes to the Conservative following Labour's decision to stand a candidate. He unsuccessfully tried to re-enter the House of Commons in 1960 at the Bolton East by-election.

In 1964, Byers was made a life peer[5] and three years later he became leader of the Liberal peers. He was created a Privy Councillor in 1972.[6]

Outside Parliament, Byers was a businessman, a Director of Rio Tinto Zinc from 1962–73 and a broadcaster.[7] He died of a heart attack on 6 February 1984.[8] A memorial service was held for Lord Byers in Westminster Abbey on 5 April 1984.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Who was Who, OUP 2007
  2. ^ Wigoder, ‘Byers, (Charles) Frank, Baron Byers (1915–1984)’, rev., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  3. ^ The Times, 21 March 1946
  4. ^ A History of the Liberal Party in the Twentieth Century, David Dutton, Palgrave Macmillan (2004) p.207
  5. ^ The Times, 23 December 1964
  6. ^ The Times, 3 June 1972
  7. ^ The Times, 6 August 1973
  8. ^ The Times, 7 February 1984 – obituary
  9. ^ The Times, 6 April 1984

Further reading[edit]

  • Entry by Roy Douglas in Dictionary of Liberal Biography, Brack et al. (eds.), Politico's (1998)

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Angus Valdemar Hambro
Member of Parliament for North Dorset
19451950
Succeeded by
Robert Crouch
Party political offices
Preceded by
Tom Horabin
Liberal Chief Whip
1946–1950
Succeeded by
Jo Grimond
Preceded by
Patrick Moynihan
Chairman of the Liberal Party
1950–1952
Succeeded by
Philip Fothergill
Preceded by
The Lord Rea
Leader of the Liberals in the House of Lords
1967–1984
Succeeded by
The Lady Seear