Malcolm Shepherd, 2nd Baron Shepherd

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Shepherd
PC
Leader of the House of Lords
Lord Privy Seal
In office
4 March 1974 – 10 September 1976
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
James Callaghan
Preceded by The Lord Windlesham
Succeeded by The Lord Peart
Chief Whip of the House of Lords
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms
In office
21 October 1964 – 29 July 1967
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
Preceded by The Earl St Aldwyn
Succeeded by The Lord Beswick
Personal details
Born (1918-09-27)27 September 1918
Died 5 April 2001(2001-04-05) (aged 82)
Political party Labour

Malcolm Newton Shepherd, 2nd Baron Shepherd (Hereditary) and also Baron Shepherd of Spalding (Life Peerage) (27 September 1918 – 5 April 2001), was a British Labour politician and peer who served as Leader of the House of Lords under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan and member of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom.

Shepherd was the son of the Labour politician George Shepherd, 1st Baron Shepherd. With the House of Lords Act 1999, the right of the hereditary peers of an automatic seat in the House of Lords was removed, so Shepherd was created a life peer as Baron Shepherd of Spalding, of Spalding in the County of Lincolnshire to keep his seat.

Early life[edit]

Born in Blackburn, Lancashire, Malcolm Shepherd was educated at the Lower School of John Lyon and the Friends' School, Saffron Walden. He was commissioned in the Royal Army Service Corps in 1941 and served in North Africa, Sicily and Italy rising to the rank of Captain and transferring to what was known as 'Special Services'.

After the end of the Second World War, Shepherd joined the firm of Fielding, Brown and Finch working in Malaya and Singapore. When his father died in 1954 he took six months leave, came to the UK to settle his father's affairs and made his maiden speech in the House of Lords before returning to the Far East and resuming his business career. In 1958 his company headquarters moved to London and Shepherd moved himself and his family to the UK.

Political career[edit]

Shepherd succeeded to the title of Baron Shepherd of Spalding on the death of his father in December 1954. In 1960 he became Deputy Opposition Chief Whip, House of Lords and became Opposition Chief Whip in 1964.

When Shepherd first joined the House of Lords its membership was entirely composed of hereditary peers with a large inbuilt Conservative Party majority. There were only about 25 to 30 Labour Party peers. Shepherd was a pragmatist who realised that if he was to enable the Bills sent from the House of Commons to pass through the House of Lords he had to do deals with the Conservatives and maintain good relations with all in the House.

Although a moderate in his political views he was an early advocate of House of Lords reform. He thought there was too much unnecessary ceremony and in 1971 argued that those entitled to vote in the Upper House be restricted to regular attenders.

After the Labour victory in the 1964 General Election, he became Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms and Government Chief Whip, House of Lords, a post he held until 1967 when he became Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He also served as Deputy Leader of the House of Lords from 1968-70.

Shepherd was appointed to the Privy Council in 1965.

As Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Shepherd was involved in resolving the Caribbean island of Anguilla's demand for independence from St. Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla. He also had to deal with the Biafra war in Nigeria. He won particular popularity in Gibraltar by supervsing the introduction of a new constitution which bound Gibraltar more closely to the UK after the Spanish government of General Franco closed the border. Shepherd's preamble to the Gibraltar constitution stated that 'Her Majesty's Government will never enter into arrangements under which the people of Gibraltar will pass under the sovereignty of another state against their wishes.'

From 1970-74 Shepherd was Opposition Deputy Leader, House of Lords. In 1974 he became Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords, a post he held till he resigned in 1976.

In November 1975 Harold Wilson caused controversy within the Labour Party by sending him to represent the UK Government at the funeral of General Franco.

Shepherd remained an active member of the House of Lords for the rest of his life, and on 16 November 1999 he was created a life peer as Baron Shepherd of Spalding, of Spalding in the County of Lincolnshire[1] in order to keep his seat after the House of Lords Act removed the right of hereditary peers to an automatic seat in the House.

Business career[edit]

After the surprise defeat of Harold Wilson's Labour government in the 1970 General Election, Shepherd worked for Rudy Sternberg's Sterling Group.

He returned to an active career in business after resigning from the Cabinet in 1976 and also held a number of public offices.

Shepherd was the first Chairman of the Civil Service Pay Research Unit boad from 1978-81. He served on the Packaging Council from 1978-8. He was chairman of the Medical Research Council from 1978-82.

From 1976-86 he was Deputy Chairman of Rudi Sternberg's Sterling Group of Companies. In 1979 he became chairman of the National Bus Company which was then one of the largest nationalised industries. Shepherd oversaw a large rise in its profits which reached £48m by 1984. He tried to persuade the Conservative government not to privatise the company, warned of the disappearance of loss-making rural services and frequently clashed with the Transport Secretary Nicholas Ridley.

He was President of the Centre Europeen de l'Enterprise Publique from 1985 and of the Institute of Road Transport Engineers.

Family Life[edit]

In 1941 Shepherd married Allison Wilson Redmond ( died 1998), the sister of James Redmond (broadcaster). Their two sons were born in Singapore before he succeeded to the title.

He was on holiday in Lanzarote (with his Whip's permission) when he died on 5 April 2001. His elder son Graeme inherited the hereditary title.

In Who's Who he gave his recreation as golf and supported Blackburn Rovers.

Sources[edit]

  • The Independent 7 April 2001 (obituary)
  • The Guardian 6 April 2001 (obituary)
  • The Times (obituary)
  • The Daily Telegraph (obituary)
  • Who's Who 1999
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl St Aldwyn
Chief Whip of the House of Lords
1964–1967
Succeeded by
The Lord Beswick
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms
1964–1967
Preceded by
The Lord Windlesham
Leader of the House of Lords
1974–1976
Succeeded by
The Lord Peart
Lord Privy Seal
1974–1976
Party political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Shackleton
Leader of the Labour Party in the House of Lords
1974–1976
Succeeded by
The Lord Peart
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Robert Shepherd
Baron Shepherd
1954–2001
Succeeded by
Graeme George Shepherd