Eric Lubbock, 4th Baron Avebury

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Avebury
Lord Avebury on the terrace of the Palace of Westminster
Liberal Chief Whip
In office
1963 – 18 June 1970
Leader Jo Grimond
Jeremy Thorpe
Preceded by Arthur Holt
Succeeded by David Steel
Member of the United Kingdom Parliament
for Orpington
In office
15 March 1962 – 18 June 1970
Preceded by Donald Sumner
Succeeded by Ivor Stanbrook
Personal details
Born (1928-09-29) 29 September 1928 (age 87)
Nationality United Kingdom British
Political party Liberal
Liberal Democrat
Spouse(s) Kina-Maria O'Kelly de Gallagh (m. 1953–83)
Lindsay Stewart (m. 1985)
Children 4
Education Upper Canada College
Harrow School
Balliol College, Oxford
Occupation Politician
Religion Buddhist

Eric Reginald Lubbock, 4th Baron Avebury, PC (born 29 September 1928) is an English politician. He served as the Liberal Member of Parliament for Orpington from 1962 to 1970, and serves in the House of Lords, having inherited the title of Baron Avebury in 1971. In 1999, when most hereditary peers were removed from the House of Lords, he was elected by his fellow Liberal Democrats to remain. He is currently the longest serving Liberal Democrat peer.


A descendant of William Lubbock (1701–54), he is the son of the Honourable Maurice Fox Pitt Lubbock (the sixth son of John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury) and the Honourable Mary Katherine Adelaide Stanley, daughter of Arthur Lyulph Stanley, 5th Baron Sheffield and Stanley of Alderley. His cousin John Lubbock, 3rd Baron Avebury died without a male heir in 1971, and Lubbock succeeded him.


He was educated at Upper Canada College in Toronto, Canada, and Harrow School, and he read Engineering Science at Balliol College, Oxford.


He served as a Lieutenant in the Welsh Guards and joined Rolls-Royce in 1951. He was employed as a production manager (1951–1956) and as a production engineer (1956–1960).

Having joined the Liberal Party in 1960 and become a councillor the following year, Lubbock won a sensational by-election victory at Orpington on 15 March 1962, with a majority of 7,855.[1] This was a swing of nearly 22% from the Conservatives and brought the number of Liberal MPs to seven.[1] Following his victory, he was dubbed "Orpington Man".[2]

Many commentators speculated that the Liberals would make a substantial breakthrough at the following general election and this by-election was widely seen as the start of a Liberal revival and a possible return to government, or at least a return to the opposition.[3]

However, the party was hampered by organisational difficulties and progress was slow, with a loss of votes and seats under Harold Wilson’s Labour government.

As the MP for Orpington, he was appointed Chief Whip by Jo Grimond in 1963, a post he held until 1970.

When the party leader Jo Grimond resigned in 1967, Eric Lubbock was one of the three Liberal MPs who stood for the position. Jeremy Thorpe, however, won with six votes to Emlyn Hooson's and Lubbock's three apiece.

In the Commons, Lubbock was on the Speaker's Commission on Electoral Law from 1964 to 1966, and proposed STV in multi-member constituencies, only to be voted down by 18–1. He also proposed reducing the voting age to 18, on which two Labour Members supported him.

In 1970, Orpington reverted to being a Conservative seat. On losing the seat Lubbock said, "In 1962 the wise, far-seeing people of Orpington elected me as their Member; in 1970 the fools threw me out".

Lubbock is a grandson of John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury and the following year upon the death of his cousin he succeeded to the peerage, becoming Lord Avebury. He sat on the Royal Commission on Standards of Conduct in Public Life and in 1976 founded the Parliamentary Human Rights Group, which he chaired for the next 21 years.

He was a member of the Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Team, speaking frequently on conflict resolution and human rights. He was elected to an Honorary Fellowship at Balliol College in 2004.

Lord Avebury is an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society and a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association. He frequently raises matters related to British nationality law in Parliament. He has been a strong supporter of the citizenship rights of the solely British ethnic minorities in Hong Kong, and has fought for their rights.

He is also President of the Peru Support Group, and advocates on human rights issues in Peru, and is a Patron of Prisoners Abroad, a charity that supports the welfare of Britons imprisoned overseas and their families.

In 2009, Lord Avebury was awarded (with Dr Evan Harris MP) the National Secular Society's Secularist of the Year Award in recognition of his role in the abolition of the common law offence of blasphemous libel.

He was the recipient of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Peace Prize in 2009.[4]

On 15 September 2010, Lubbock, along with 54 other public figures, signed an open letter published in The Guardian, stating their opposition to Pope Benedict XVI's state visit to the UK.[5]

Lord Avebury is a Co-Chair of the CHT (Chittagong Hill Tracts) Commission, which monitors the implementation of the CHT Peace Accord by the Bangladesh Government.

Private life[edit]

He has married twice:

  1. Kina-Maria O'Kelly de Gallagh (2 September 1953 – 1983)
    1. The Hon. Lyulph Ambrose Jonathan Lubbock (born 15 June 1954); married Susan MacDonald 14 May 1977, with issue.
    2. The Hon. Maurice Patrick Guy Lubbock (born 5 November 1955); married Diana Tobin 1982 with issue.
    3. The Hon. Victoria Sarah Maria Lubbock (born 27 April 1959); married Alan Binnie 1983 with issue.
  2. Lindsay Stewart (1985– )
    1. The Hon. John William Stewart Lubbock (born 8 August 1985)

Today Lord Avebury lives in Camberwell, London. He is a Buddhist.[6]


  1. ^ a b "BBC ON THIS DAY | 15 | 1962: Liberals seize Orpington". BBC News. 15 March 1990. Retrieved 9 January 2011. 
  2. ^ "Orpington". BBC News. 2001. Retrieved 4 February 2011. 
  3. ^ Macrory, Sam (24 April 2010). "Top Ten: Lib Dem 'breakthrough moments'". Retrieved 9 January 2011. 
  4. ^ "Muslim leader praises British spirit of tolerance". Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Press Secretary AMJ International. 28 March 2011. Retrieved April 3, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Letters: Harsh judgments on the pope and religion". The Guardian (London). 15 September 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  6. ^

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Donald Sumner
Member of Parliament for Orpington
Succeeded by
Ivor Stanbrook
Party political offices
Preceded by
Arthur Holt
Liberal Chief Whip
Succeeded by
David Steel
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Lubbock
Baron Avebury