Philip Noel-Baker, Baron Noel-Baker

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Noel-Baker
PC
Philip Noel-Baker 1942.jpg
Philip Noel-Baker, 1942.
Minister of Fuel and Power
In office
15 February 1950 – 31 October 1951
Preceded by Hugh Gaitskell
Succeeded by Office Abolished
Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations
In office
7 October 1947 – 28 February 1950
Preceded by The Viscount Addison
Succeeded by Patrick Gordon Walker
Personal details
Born 1 November 1889
Brondesbury Park, London
Died 8 October 1982(1982-10-08) (aged 92)
Westminster
Alma mater Haverford College
King's College, Cambridge
Military service
Awards Nobel Peace Prize
Olympic medal record
Men's athletics
Competitor for  United Kingdom
Silver 1920 Antwerp 1500 metres

Philip John Noel-Baker, Baron Noel-Baker (1 November 1889 – 8 October 1982) was a British politician, diplomat, academic, an outstanding amateur athlete, and renowned campaigner for disarmament. He carried the British team flag and won an Olympic silver medal at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1959.[1] He is the only person to have won an Olympic medal and also received a Nobel Prize.[2] He was a Labour member of parliament from 1929 to 1931 and from 1936 to 1970, serving in several ministerial offices and the cabinet. He became a life peer in 1977.

Early life and athletic career[edit]

Philip John Baker was born in Brondesbury Park, London.[3] He was the sixth of seven children of his Canadian-born Quaker father, Joseph Allen Baker and Scottish-born mother, Elizabeth Balmer Moscrip. His father had moved to England in 1876 to set up a manufacturing business and served as a Progressive Party member of the London County Council from 1895 to 1906 and as Liberal Party member of the House of Commons for East Finsbury from 1905 to 1918.

Baker was educated at Ackworth School, Bootham School and then in the US at the Quaker-associated Haverford College in Pennsylvania. He studied at King's College, Cambridge from 1908 to 1912. As well as being an excellent student, obtaining a second in Part I history and a first in Part II economics, he was President of the Cambridge Union Society in 1912 and President of the Cambridge University Athletic Club from 1910 to 1912. [3]

He competed in the Olympic Games before and after the First World War. He ran for Great Britain in the 800 metres and 1500 meters at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, reaching the final of the 1500 metres, won by his fellow countryman Arnold Jackson. He was captain of the British track team for the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp and carried the flag. He won his first race in the 800 metres but then concentrated on the 1500 meters, winning the silver medal behind team-mate Albert Hill. He was captain again for the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, but did not compete.

He was also an academic early in his career. He was appointed vice-principal of Ruskin College, Oxford in 1914, and elected a fellow at King's College, Cambridge in 1915.[3] During World War I, he organised and led the Friends' Ambulance Unit attached to the fighting front in France (1914–1915), and was then, as a conscientious objector from 1916, adjutant of the First British Ambulance Unit for Italy, in association with the British Red Cross (1915–1918), for which he received military medals from the UK, France and Italy.

Political career[edit]

After the war, Noel-Baker was closely involved in the formation of the League of Nations, serving as assistant to Lord Robert Cecil, then assistant to Sir Eric Drummond, the league's first secretary-general. He became the first Sir Ernest Cassel Professor of International Relations at the University of London from 1924 to 1929[4] and a lecturer at Yale University from 1933 to 1934.

His political career with the Labour Party began in 1924 when he stood, unsuccessfully, for Parliament in the Conservative safe seat of Birmingham Handsworth. He was elected as the member for Coventry in 1929, and served as parliamentary private secretary to the Foreign Secretary Arthur Henderson. He lost his seat in 1931, but remained Henderson's assistant while Henderson was president of the World Disarmament Conference in Geneva in 1932 to 1933. Noel-Baker stood for Parliament again in Coventry in 1935, unsuccessfully, but won a by-election in Derby in July 1936 after the sitting Member of Parliament J. H. Thomas resigned; when that constituency was divided in 1950, he transferred to Derby South and continued until 1970.

Noel-Baker became a member of the Labour Party's National Executive Committee in 1937. In the coalition government during the World War II he was a parliamentary secretary at the Ministry of War Transport from February 1942, and served as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs after Labour's victory in the 1945 general election, but had a poor relationship with the Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin. Noel-Baker moved to become Secretary of State for Air in October 1946, and then became Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations in 1947 and joined the cabinet. He was the minister responsible for organising the 1948 Olympic Games in London. He moved to the Ministry of Fuel and Power in 1950. In the mid-1940s, Noel-Baker served on the British delegation to what became the United Nations, helping to draft its charter and other rules for operation as a British delegate. He was also prominent within Labour, serving as Chairman of the Labour Party in 1946-7, but lost his place on the National Executive Committee in 1948, his place being taken by Michael Foot. He opposed left-wing Bevanite policies in the 1950s. He declined appointment as a Companion of Honour in the 1965 New Year Honours.

He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1959. He supported multilateral nuclear disarmament, and opposed a policy of unilateral disarmament. In 1979, with Fenner Brockway, he co-founded the World Disarmament Campaign, serving as co-Chair until his death.

He was made a life peer on 22 July 1977, as Baron Noel-Baker, of the City of Derby,[5] and was an active supporter of disarmament into the 1980s. He was president of the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education from 1960 to 1976.

Private life[edit]

In June 1915 Philip Baker married Irene Noel, a field hospital nurse in East Grinstead, subsequently adopting the hyphenated name Noel-Baker. His wife was a friend of Virginia Woolf. Their only son, Francis Noel-Baker, also became a Labour MP and served together with his father in the Commons. Their marriage, however was not a success and Philip Noel-Baker's mistress from 1936 was Lady Megan Lloyd George, daughter of the former Liberal Party leader David Lloyd George, herself a Liberal and later Labour MP. The affair ended with Irene's death in 1956. Following Noel-Baker's death in Westminster at the age of 92, he was buried alongside his wife in Heyshott, West Sussex.[3]

Bibliography[edit]

by Philip Noel-Baker

  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1925). The Geneva Protocol for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes. London: P. S. King & Son Ltd. 
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1926). Disarmament. London: The Hogarth Press.  (Reprint 1970, New York: Kennicat Press)
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1926). The League of Nations at Work. London: Nisbet. 
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1927). Disarmament and the Coolidge Conference. London: Leonard & Virginia Woolf. 
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1929). The Present Juridical Status of the British Dominions in International Law. London: Longmans. 
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1934). Disarmament. London: League of Nations Union. 
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1934). Hawkers of Death: The Private Manufacture and Trade in Arms. London: Labour Party.  (28pp pamphlet)
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1936). The Private Manufacture of Armaments. London: Victor Gollancz.  (Reprint 1972, New York: Dover Publications)
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1944). Before we go back: a pictorial record of Norway's fight against Nazism. London: H.M.S.O. 
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1946). U.N., the Atom, the Veto (speech at the Plenary Assembly of the United Nations 25 October 1946). London: The Labour Party. 
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1958). The Arms Race : A Programme for World Disarmament. London: Stevens & Sons. ASIN: B0000CJZPN. 
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1962). Nansen's Place in History. Oslo: Universitetsförlaget.  (26pp pamphlet)
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1963). The Way to World Disarmament-Now!. London: Union of Democratic Control. 
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1979). The first World Disarmament Conference, 1932-1933 and why it failed. Oxford: Pergamon. ISBN 0-08-023365-1. 

by Philip Noel-Baker with other authors

  • Buzzard, Rear-Admiral Sir Anthony; Noel-Baker, Philip (1959). Disarmament and Defence. United Nations [Peacefinder Pamphlet. no. 28]. 
  • Mountbatten, Louis; Noel-Baker, Philip; Zuckerman, Solly (1980). Apocalypse now?. Nottingham: Spokesman Books. ISBN 0-85124-297-9. 
  • Noel-Baker, Philip (1934). Challenge To Death. London: Constable. 

by others

  • Ferguson, John (1983). Philip Noel-Baker : the man and his message. London: United Nations Association. ASIN: B0000EF3NF. 
  • Lloyd, Lorna: Philip Noel-Baker and the Peace Through Law in Long, David; Wilson, Peter (eds) (1995). Thinkers of the Twenty Years’ Crisis. Inter-War Idealism reassessed. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-827855-1. 
  • Russell, Bertrand; Russell, B. (1960). "Philip Noel-Baker: A Tribute". International Relations 2: 1–2. doi:10.1177/004711786000200101. 
  • Whittaker, David J. (1989). Fighter for peace : Philip Noel-Baker 1889-1982. York: Sessions. ISBN 1-85072-056-8. 

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Archibald Boyd-Carpenter
Member of Parliament for Coventry
1929–1931
Succeeded by
Capt WF Strickland
Preceded by
J. H. Thomas and
William Allan Reid
Member of Parliament for Derby
1936–1950
With: William Allan Reid to 1945
Clifford Wilcock from 1945
constituency divided
New constituency Member of Parliament for Derby South
1950–1970
Succeeded by
Walter Johnson
Political offices
Preceded by
Harold Laski
Chair of the Labour Party
1946–1947
Succeeded by
Manny Shinwell
Preceded by
The Viscount Stansgate
Secretary of State for Air
1946—1947
Succeeded by
Arthur Henderson
Preceded by
The Viscount Addison
Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations
1947—1950
Succeeded by
Patrick Gordon Walker
Preceded by
Hugh Gaitskell
Minister of Fuel and Power
1950—1951
Succeeded by
Office abolished