Peter George Beazley CBE (9 June 1922 – 23 December 2004) was a British businessman and politician, who worked for Imperial Chemical Industries for over thirty years. He went on to serve for fifteen years as a Member of the European Parliament for the Conservative Party.
Education and wartime career
Beazley was educated at Highgate School, and then went up to St John's College, Oxford where he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics. In 1942, on leaving Oxford during the Second World War, he joined the Rifle Brigade, with whom he served in North Africa, Italy and Austria. He reached the rank of Captain.
Demobilised in 1947, Beazley then joined Imperial Chemical Industries as a Manager. In his early career with the company he was often stationed abroad, in Germany for seven years, and also in Portugal, Belgium and South Africa. He was promoted to be a General Manager, a divisional board director and eventually Vice Chairman of the company. He was also a Managing Director of some of ICI's associated companies. Due to his foreign travels Beazley had learned to speak four foreign languages well. He was a Research Fellow of the Royal Institution of International Affairs in 1977-78.
In 1978 Beazley retired from ICI, having been selected as Conservative Party candidate for Bedfordshire for the European Parliament. This constituency was considered a marginal before the election, as it included Labour-voting towns such as Luton and Bedford as well as Hemel Hempstead. However, with the help of the collapse in the Labour vote at the European Parliament election, Beazley won with a majority of 53,600.
Member of the European Parliament
Beazley concentrated on the European Union's impact on business, trying to provide business with information on legislation and regulations being proposed in Brussels. In January 1981 he opposed a call for the Ireland national rugby union team to cancel a tour of South Africa on the grounds that multiracial Rugby was practised throughout South Africa. He was part of the Bureau of the European Democratic Group, responsible for guiding the political leadership of the group, in 1982-83.
After boundary changes, Beazley was re-elected for Bedfordshire South in the 1984 European Parliament election. At the same election, his son Christopher Beazley was elected as MEP for Cornwall and Plymouth. Beazley was put on the powerful Economic and Monetary Affairs and Industrial Policy Committee and served as Vice-Chairman from 1984 to 1989. At the 1989 election his majority was cut to 2,977.
Beazley maintained his support for European integration when opinion within the Conservative Party began to grow sceptical in the early 1990s. He complained that those critical of European Union decision-making often forgot that the European Parliament scrutinised all legislation through committees which could call experts to give evidence about their effects. At the age of 70, Beazley announced in 1993 that he would stand down at the next election; that year he received the CBE. In his last few weeks in office, Beazley worked to stop a European Commission proposal to ban the sale of motorbikes with over 100 brake horsepower.
The former junior Health Minister Edwina Currie was selected to follow him but lost the seat to Labour in the 1994 elections. After the election Beazley ruefully observed "They told us it would be a doddle with Edwina".
- "Who Was Who", A & C Black