Norman Fowler

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Fowler
PC
Shadow Home Secretary
In office
2 June 1998 – 15 June 1999
Leader William Hague
Preceded by Brian Mawhinney
Succeeded by Ann Widdecombe
Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions
In office
19 June 1997 – 1 June 1998
Leader William Hague
Preceded by John Gummer
Succeeded by Gillian Shephard
Chairman of the Conservative Party
In office
11 May 1992 – 15 July 1994
Leader John Major
Preceded by Chris Patten
Succeeded by Jeremy Hanley
Secretary of State for Employment
In office
13 June 1987 – 3 January 1990
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by David Young
Succeeded by Michael Howard
Secretary of State for Social Services
In office
14 September 1981 – 13 June 1987
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Patrick Jenkin
Succeeded by John Moore
Secretary of State for Transport
In office
5 January 1981 – 14 September 1981
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Himself (Minister of State)
Succeeded by David Howell
Minister of State for Transport
In office
4 May 1979 – 5 January 1981
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Bill Rodgers
Succeeded by Himself (Secretary of State)
Member of Parliament
for Sutton Coldfield
In office
28 February 1974 – 7 June 2001
Preceded by Geoffrey Lloyd
Succeeded by Andrew Mitchell
Member of Parliament
for Nottingham South
In office
18 June 1970 – 28 February 1974
Preceded by George Perry
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
Personal details
Born (1938-02-02) 2 February 1938 (age 76)
Chelmsford, Essex, United Kingdom
Political party Conservative
Alma mater Trinity Hall, Cambridge; King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford

Peter Norman Fowler, Baron Fowler,[1] PC (born 2 February 1938) is a British Conservative politician who was a member of Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet.

After serving as Shadow Minister of Transport, he was appointed Secretary of State for Transport in 1979, being responsible for making seat belts compulsory. Later, as Secretary of State for Health and Social Security, he drew public attention to the dangers of AIDS. He resigned from the cabinet as Employment Secretary, and was knighted in 1990.

He was Chairman of the Conservative Party from 1992 to 1994, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Transport and the Regions in 1997–98 and Shadow Home Secretary in 1998–99. In 2001, he was made a Conservative life peer as Baron Fowler, of Sutton Coldfield.

Early life[edit]

He was educated at King Edward VI Grammar School in Chelmsford, in the county of Essex; after which he did National Service as a second lieutenant in the Essex Regiment. Whilst studying at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, he was Chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association in Michaelmas 1960, in which term he entertained both the Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and Home Secretary (and de facto Deputy Prime Minister, although he did not hold the title until 1962) Rab Butler. He then became a journalist, and worked on The Times.

Member of Parliament[edit]

In opposition[edit]

During the mid-1970s Fowler was shadow Minister of Transport. In April 1976 he was photographed outside the Palace of Westminster having just taken delivery of his third four cylinder MG MGB GT - he had reportedly rejected the idea of buying a V8 version on account of the cost.[2] This enthusiasm for ownership of a sports car contrasted with the behaviour of a recently promoted Minister of Transport, who had imputed ownership of the family car to his wife, apparently on grounds of political expediency.

In government[edit]

Upon Margaret Thatcher becoming Prime Minister in 1979, she did not immediately appoint Fowler to her Cabinet, explaining: "we were short of one place. As a result, Normal Fowler, as Minister of State at Transport, was not able to be an official member of the Cabinet, although he attended all our meetings." [3]

As Secretary of State for Transport, Fowler drove through Lord Nugent's 1981 bill to make seat belts compulsory, a law that came into force in 1983.[4][5]

As Secretary of State for Health and Social Security in 1986, Fowler implemented the first official drive to educate the British public to the dangers of AIDS. Edwina Currie (Health) and John Major (Social Security) both served under him as junior ministers.

Backbenches, retirement and Shadow Cabinet[edit]

Fowler later resigned from the cabinet as Employment Secretary in January 1990, becoming the first politician to cite "to spend more time with my (his) family" as his reasoning.[6] Although it was the truth in Fowler's case, the expression later became a smokescreen for politicians who had quit high-profile roles for slightly more dark or controversial reasons.

Following his resignation from the frontbench, Fowler was knighted in 1990.[7]

Having spent more time with his family, Fowler then returned twice to front line politics, first as Chairman of the Conservative Party (as a backbencher in Parliament) from 1992-4, during which time he oversaw the Boundary Changes in the early 1990s; then on the Conservative front bench as Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Transport and the Regions, 1997-8 and finally, as Shadow Home Secretary, 1998-9.

In 2001, he stepped down as a Member of Parliament and was made a Conservative life peer as Baron Fowler, of Sutton Coldfield, in the county of West Midlands.[1]

In 2003, he proposed that the European Union should appoint a high-level coordinator with ambassadorial rank to deal with the AIDS epidemic.[8]

In 2006, he chaired a House of Lords select committee which criticised the use of the television licence fee, which is used to fund the BBC, as a tax.

His book, A Political Suicide (Politico's Publishing ISBN 978-1-84275-227-2), was published in 2008 and it was shortlisted for the Channel 4 Political Book of the Year Award.

In May 2013, Fowler gave his support to legislation aiming to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples, stating: "Parliament should value people equally in the law, and that enabling same-sex couples to marry removes the current inequity.".[9]

Work in industry[edit]

He has been deeply involved in industry, having been on the board of directors of several companies. He is non-executive chairman of Aggregate Industries plc.[10] He is a member of the National Union of Journalists.[11]

News International phone hacking scandal[edit]

Fowler demanded an independent inquiry into the phone hacking inquiry on 7 July 2011. (He was chairman of the Birmingham Post newspapers for five years.) He said that the UK was faced by "one of the biggest scandals affecting the press in living memory".[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b [1] The London Gazette: no. 56266. p. 1. 6 July 2001.
  2. ^ "News: An MG for Shadow Minister". Autocar. 144 (nbr 4146): pages 27. 24 April 1976. 
  3. ^ Margaret Thatcher, The Downing Street Years (HarperCollins, 1993), p. 29.
  4. ^ "Seat belt law introduction recalled by Lord Fowler". BBC News. 2011-05-21. Retrieved 2011-07-01. 
  5. ^ "RoSPA History - How Belting Up Became Law". Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. Retrieved 2011-07-01. 
  6. ^ Norman Fowler (2008-07-05). "Family first". Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  7. ^ [2] The London Gazette: no. 52026. p. 973. 23 January 1990.
  8. ^ Michael White (2003-02-21). "Europe should appoint Aids envoy, peer says". Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 
  9. ^ http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/05/10/conservative-lord-fowler-if-parliament-values-people-equally-it-must-make-same-sex-marriage-legal/
  10. ^ http://www.aggregate.com/about-us/the-board/lord-fowler/
  11. ^ http://www.londonfreelance.org/fl/0005foi.html?i=flolder&d=2000_05
  12. ^ "Former Sutton Coldfield MP Lord Fowler demands independent phone hacking inquiry". Blogs.birminghampost.net. Retrieved 2011-07-12. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Perry
Member of Parliament for Nottingham South
19701974
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
Geoffrey Lloyd
Member of Parliament for Sutton Coldfield
19742001
Succeeded by
Andrew Mitchell
Political offices
Preceded by
Bill Rodgers
as Secretary of State for Transport
Minister of State for Transport
1979–1981
Succeeded by
Himself
as Secretary of State for Transport
Preceded by
Himself
as Minister of State for Transport
Secretary of State for Transport
1981
Succeeded by
David Howell
Preceded by
Patrick Jenkin
Secretary of State for Social Services
1981–1987
Succeeded by
John Moore
Preceded by
The Lord Young of Graffham
Secretary of State for Employment
1987–1990
Succeeded by
Michael Howard
Minister without Portfolio
1992–1994
Succeeded by
Jeremy Hanley
Preceded by
Brian Mawhinney
Shadow Home Secretary
1998–1999
Succeeded by
Ann Widdecombe
Party political offices
Preceded by
Chris Patten
Chairman of the Conservative Party
1992–1994
Succeeded by
Jeremy Hanley