The youngest son of the Reverend Hulton Keeling, headmaster of Bradford Grammar School, he was educated at Bradford and University College, Oxford, graduating with a master's degree in jurisprudence. He was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn. In 1902 he received employment in the Supply and Accounting Department of the Admiralty. From there he moved to be a member of the Harbour Commission in Burma, then a British colony.
With the outbreak of World War I, Keeling received a commission as an officer in the Indian Army Reserve of Officers. He served in the Mesopotamian Campaign, and was present at the surrender of Kut by the British at the hands of Ottoman Forces. Following the surrender, he served as a prisoner-of-war in Turkey until his escape, which eventually landed him in Bolshevik Russia. Following his return to England, he served as the head of a special branch (responsible for Turkey and Bulgaria) in the British General Staff for enabling officers to escape. He was awarded the Military Cross in October 1918. He published his story as Adventures in Turkey and Russia, published in 1924.
His next parliamentary candidacy was at the 1935 general election, when he was elected as MP for Twickenham. His name is best known in legislative and Parliamentary circles as a result of the question he asked of the then Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, on 26 July 1938: "whether he has considered a memorandum on the evils of legislation by reference submitted to him by a number of Members; and whether he has any statement to make".
The Prime Minister, as the Minister responsible for the work of the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, who draft all UK Government legislation, replied that: "I have considered the memorandum with interest ... The suggestion made is, in effect, that a Bill amending or applying an existing enactment by reference should contain a Schedule setting out the enactment as it will read when amended by the Bill ... This method is not, I understand, put forward as a panacea to be used in all cases ... There are, however, undoubtedly some cases where the method suggested by the memorandum would be both practicable and advantageous; and I have instructed the Parliamentary Counsel to proceed experimentally on the lines suggested in suitable cases". These Schedules have subsequently become known as 'Keeling schedules'.
- Craig, F. W. S. (1983) . British parliamentary election results 1918-1949 (3rd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. ISBN 0-900178-06-X.
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs
- "Obituary: Sir Edward Keeling. Conservative M.P. For Twickenham". The Times. 24 November 1954. p. 10.
- "KEELING, Sir Edward (Herbert)". Who Was Who. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
- "Council Of Legal Education". The Times. 3 November 1908. p. 15.
- "No. 27406". The London Gazette. 14 February 1902. p. 941.
- "No. 29186". The London Gazette. 8 June 1915. p. 5527.
- "No. 30950". The London Gazette. 11 October 1918. p. 12079.
- Keeling, Edward H. Adventures in Turkey and Russia. London: John Murray, 1924.
- Official Report, 26/7/38; col. 2919 "Legislation by Reference". Hansard 1803-2005. Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- "(Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill) [13 Nov 2000]". Lords Hansard. Parliament of the United Kingdom.
- "No. 39480". The London Gazette. 29 February 1952. pp. 1191–1192.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Sir Edward Keeling
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