Frank Soskice, Baron Stow Hill

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Stow Hill
Kt. PC
Lord Privy Seal
In office
23 December 1965 – 6 April 1966
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
Preceded by Frank Pakenham
Succeeded by Frank Pakenham
Home Secretary
In office
18 October 1964 – 23 December 1965
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
Preceded by Henry Brooke
Succeeded by Roy Jenkins
Shadow Home Secretary
In office
15 February 1963 – 18 October 1964
Leader Harold Wilson
Preceded by George Brown
Succeeded by Edward Boyle
Attorney General for England and Wales
In office
24 April 1951 – 26 October 1951
Prime Minister Clement Attlee
Preceded by Sir Hartley Shawcross
Succeeded by Sir Lionel Heald
Solicitor General for England and Wales
In office
4 August 1945 – 24 April 1951
Prime Minister Clement Attlee
Preceded by Sir Walter Monckton
Succeeded by Sir Lynn Ungoed-Thomas
Member of Parliament for Newport
In office
6 July 1956 – 31 March 1966
Preceded by Peter Freeman
Succeeded by Roy Hughes
Member of Parliament for Sheffield Neepsend
In office
23 February 1950 – 26 May 1955
Preceded by Harry Morris
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
Member of Parliament for Birkenhead East
In office
5 July 1945 – 23 February 1950
Preceded by Henry Graham White
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
Personal details
Born 23 July 1902 (1902-07-23)
Died 1 January 1979 (1979-02) (aged 76)
Nationality British
Political party Labour
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford

Frank Soskice, Baron Stow Hill PC (23 July 1902 – 1 January 1979) was a British lawyer and Labour Party politician.

Background and education[edit]

Soskice's father was the exiled Russian revolutionary journalist David Soskice; his mother was the granddaughter of artist Ford Madox Brown, niece of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and sister of Ford Madox Ford. Soskice was educated at the Froebel Demonstration School, St Paul's School, London, and Balliol College, Oxford. He studied law and was called to the bar at the Inner Temple in 1926. He served in the British Army with the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry during World War II.[1]

Political career[edit]

Following the war, he was elected to parliament as a Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Birkenhead East in the 1945 general election, and became Solicitor General,[2] receiving the customary knighthood,[3] in the government of Clement Attlee, serving in that office throughout Attlee's government. He was also, briefly, UK delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. As Solicitor General, Soskice was viewed as an important advocate for the government in the House of Commons. His constituency was abolished in the 1950 election, but he was soon returned to the House of Commons at a by-election in the Sheffield Neepsend constituency, where the sitting MP Harry Morris stood down to make way for Soskice. In April 1951, he became Attorney General.

In 1952, Soskice joined the shadow cabinet, and his fortunes rose in 1955 with the election of his close ally Hugh Gaitskell as party leader, although he continued his legal practice as well. His Sheffield Neepsend constituency was abolished for the 1955 general election, but in 1956 he won a by-election in the Newport seat in Monmouthshire that he would hold until he retired.

When Labour returned to government in 1964 under Harold Wilson, Soskice became Home Secretary. In this office he did not impress Wilson - he was in poor health, and he botched the response to an electoral boundary change dispute in Northamptonshire and accepted weakening amendments to the Race Relations Act of 1965.

In December 1965, Soskice was relieved of his Home Office responsibilities and made Lord Privy Seal. He had, though, ensured Government support for Sydney Silverman's Private Members Bill, passed on 28 October 1965, which suspended the death penalty in the United Kingdom for five years (except for treason). This reform is sometimes erroneously included with the Jenkins reforms which followed. In fact when the death penalty for murder was finally abolished in 1969,[4] James Callaghan was Home Secretary.

In 1966, Soskice retired, and was created a life peer as Baron Stow Hill, of Newport in the County of Monmouth on 7 June 1966.[5] Stow Hill is a steep hill in Newport, which runs from the city centre up to St. Woolos Cathedral.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Henry Graham White
Member of Parliament for Birkenhead East
19451950
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
Harry Morris
Member of Parliament for Sheffield Neepsend
19501955
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
Peter Freeman
Member of Parliament for Newport
19561966
Succeeded by
Roy Hughes
Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir Walter Monckton
Solicitor General for England and Wales
1945-1951
Succeeded by
Sir Lynn Ungoed-Thomas
Preceded by
Sir Hartley Shawcross
Attorney General for England and Wales
1951
Succeeded by
Sir Lionel Heald
Political offices
Preceded by
Henry Brooke
Home Secretary
1964–1965
Succeeded by
Roy Jenkins
Preceded by
The Earl of Longford
Lord Privy Seal
1965–1966
Succeeded by
The Earl of Longford