Alf Dubs, Baron Dubs

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The Lord Dubs
Official portrait of Lord Dubs crop 2.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Battersea
Battersea South (1979-1983)
In office
3 May 1979 – 11 June 1987
Preceded byErnest Perry
Succeeded byJohn Bowis
Personal details
Alfred Dubs

(1932-12-05) 5 December 1932 (age 86)
Prague, Czechoslovakia
Political partyLabour
Alma materLondon School of Economics

Alfred Dubs, Baron Dubs (born 5 December 1932) is a British Labour politician and former Member of Parliament.

Youth and education[edit]

Born in Prague in what was then Czechoslovakia, Dubs was one of 669 Czech-resident, mainly Jewish, children saved by English stockbroker Nicholas Winton, and others, from the Nazis on the Kindertransport (Dubs's father was Jewish).[1] His father had fled to England the day the Nazis arrived in Czechoslovakia and young Alf was to meet him at Liverpool Street station. He later said that he clearly remembered leaving Prague station at age six and not touching the food pack given to him by his mother for the next two days. His mother was initially denied a visa but was able to join him and his father in London shortly afterwards.[2]

Dubs learned the facts when Nicholas Winton's story was broadcast on That's Life! in 1988. He later met Winton in person and campaigned for him to be honoured.[3] Winton was eventually knighted in 2002.

He was educated at Cheadle Hulme School and the London School of Economics.[4] He then worked as a local government officer and for Ogilvy and Mather as an account executive before entering politics.


Before gaining election, Dubs stood unsuccessfully for Parliament on a number of occasions. In 1970 he stood for Cities of London and Westminster, being defeated by the Conservative Christopher Tugendhat. He also stood in South Hertfordshire in both the February and October 1974 General Elections, each time being beaten by Cecil Parkinson.

Dubs was elected in the 1979 general election as a member of parliament for Battersea South and at the 1983 election for Battersea, before losing his seat at the election of 1987. From 1988 to 1995, he was director of the Refugee Council. In 1994, he was appointed as a Labour life peer with the title of Baron Dubs of Battersea in the London Borough of Wandsworth. He was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Northern Ireland Office from May 1997 to December 1999.

While Dubs was still in the House of Commons, John O'Farrell worked in his office and was a Labour activist in Battersea. In his book, Things Can Only Get Better, O'Farrell described the events leading up to Dubs's shock defeat by the Conservative John Bowis at the 1987 general election. Dubs stood for Battersea again at the 1992 election, only to see the Conservative majority increase, against the national trend. In 1994,[5] he was given a life peerage.

Dubs has served on an area health authority and more recently on a mental health trust. He was chair of the Broadcasting Standards Commission until December 2003 and had previously been deputy chair of the Independent Television Commission. He is a trustee of the Open University Foundation.

In the past, he has been a local councillor, chair of the Fabian Society, chair of Liberty, a trustee of Action Aid, a trustee of the Immigration Advisory Service and of a number of other voluntary organisations.

Dubs is a patron of Humanists UK, formerly known as the British Humanist Association.[6]

In 2008, Dubs participated in 42 House of Lords debates, well above average for all peers. He has spoken on many varied subjects including the National Probation Service[7] and road safety.[8] Dubs was chair of the Road Safety Foundation.

Dubs lists his main home as a cottage in the Lake District in Cumbria, which enabled him to claim over £26,000 of overnight subsistence expenses in 2007/2008[9][10] although he has lived in Notting Hill, west London, since 1964. In May 2009, he argued in justification that Lords regard the overnight allowance as a payment in lieu of salary. "We are the only legislators in the world that don’t get paid," he said. "The overnight thing is quite generous because it compensates for not having a salary. In practice that’s how it works."[11]

Dubs is a vice-president of the Debating Group.[12]

He was awarded Humanist of the Year 2016 by the British Humanist Association at an awards ceremony in London.[13]

Dubs amendment[edit]

In 2016, Lord Dubs sponsored an amendment to the Immigration Act 2016 to offer unaccompanied refugee children safe passage to Britain amidst the European migrant crisis. Originally rejected by the House of Commons,[14][15] the amendment was accepted by the government following a second vote in favour by the Lords[16] - however in February 2017, the Home Office abandoned the scheme after accepting only 350 of the planned 3,000 child refugees.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McAuley, James (27 March 2016). "They were rescued as kids in WWII. Now they want to help today's refugee children". Washington Post. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  2. ^ "Winton's children: Alf Dubs". BBC News. 3 September 2009. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  3. ^ "Breakfast With Frost: Interview with Sir Nicholas Winton & Lord Dubs". BBC Breakfast. 5 January 2003. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  4. ^ "Notable Old Waconians". Archived from the original on 28 October 2012.
  5. ^ "Lord Dubs Profile". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  6. ^ "Lord Dubs, Labour peer and Patron of Humanists UK". Humanists UK. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  7. ^ "House of Lords debates National Probation Service: Budget". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  8. ^ "House of Lords debates Thursday, 10 January 2008". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  9. ^ "House of Lords Members' Expenses 1 April 2007 – 31 March 2008" (PDF). UK Parliament. December 2008. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  10. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 May 2009. Retrieved 23 November 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Peers claim thousands for mortgage-free homes". The Times. London. 24 May 2009. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  12. ^ Debating Group Archived 5 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine Chair of the all party Group on Moldova
  13. ^ "Lord Dubs awarded Humanist of the Year 2016". British Humanist Association. 27 November 2016. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  14. ^ Sims, Alexandra (25 April 2016). "Immigration Bill: MPs vote against child refugee amendment". Independent. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  15. ^ "Immigration Bill — Unaccompanied Refugee Children: Relocation and Support — 25 Apr 2016 at 21:26". The Public Whip. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
  16. ^ a b "Reality Check: Did government go back on its word on child refugees?". BBC News. 9 February 2017.

Times Guide to the House of Commons 1992

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Ernest Perry
Member of Parliament for Battersea South
constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Battersea
Succeeded by
John Bowis
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Martin Barber
Chief Executive of the Refugee Council
Succeeded by
Nick Hardwick
Party political offices
Preceded by
Ben Pimlott
Chair of the Fabian Society
Succeeded by
Maggie Rice