Michael Onslow, 7th Earl of Onslow
Background and education
Onslow was the only son of William Onslow, 6th Earl of Onslow and his first wife, the Hon. Pamela Dillon, daughter of Eric Dillon, 19th Viscount Dillon. He was educated at Eton and the Sorbonne.
Lord Onslow succeeded his father in the earldom in 1971. He was far more colourful and unorthodox, publicly opposing apartheid and police racism, among other issues. He sat on the Conservative benches. He was a supporter of reform of the House of Lords, but not as proposed by Labour. When Tony Blair's Labour Government proposed the House of Lords Bill in 1999 to strip voting rights from the mostly Conservative hereditary peers in the House, Lord Onslow said that he was happy to force a division on every clause of the Scotland Bill, each division takes 20 minutes and there were more than 270 clauses. This was a move to ruin the government's legislative programme in protest at the removal. Lord Onslow added he would "behave like a football hooligan" on this legislative programme, which he opposed. Ironically, he was one of the more than 90 hereditary peers elected to remain in the House of Lords after the House of Lords Act 1999.
He was a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights from July 2005 until his death, from cancer in which capacity he strongly criticised Jacqui Smith over the government's proposed extension to detention of terror suspects to 42 days. He disapproved of modernising tendencies within the Church of England, stating on one occasion that “...one hundred years ago, the Church was in favour of fox hunting and against buggery. Now it is in favour of buggery and against fox hunting.” On two occasions he appeared on Have I Got News for You. He is the only hereditary peer to have ever appeared on that programme to date.
Lord Onslow died on 14 May 2011, aged 73, following a battle with cancer which consigned him to a wheelchair.
Lord and Lady Onslow had three children:
- Rupert Charles William Bullard Onslow, 8th Earl of Onslow (b. 16 June 1967)
- Lady Arabella Onslow (b. 1970)
- Lady Charlotte Emma Dorothy Onslow (b. 1977)
- BBC News — Earl of Onslow dies
- Michael William Coplestone Dillon Onslow, 7th Earl of Onslow profile at thepeerage.com
- Margalit Fox (21 May 2011). "Lord Onslow, a Peer by Birth and Contrarian by Nature, Dies at 73". The New York Times.
- Profile of Michael Onslow, 7th Earl of Onslow, The Guardian, 26 November 2003.
- 'The Earl of Onslow: Colourful hereditary peer who advocated reform of the House of Lords', John Barnes, The Independent, 1 June 2011; retrieved 14 September 2013.
- JCHR, UK Parliament website
- BBC Politics
- National Review report containing Lord Onslow's comment about the Church of England
- HIGNFY Host - Angus Deayton/Glenda Jackson & Earl of Onslow(1).
- HIGNFY S26E02 - Part 1.
- Notice of death of the 7th Earl of Onslow
- Open letter by the Earl to David Cameron, on the subject of civil liberties
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Michael Onslow, 7th Earl of Onslow
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