Florence Horsbrugh, Baroness Horsbrugh

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The Right Honourable
The Baroness Horsbrugh
GBE PC
Florence Horsbrugh, Baroness Horsbrugh.jpg
Horsbrugh in April 1945.
Minister of Education
In office
2 November 1951 – 18 October 1954
Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Preceded by George Tomlinson
Succeeded by David Eccles
Member of Parliament for Manchester Moss Side
In office
23 February 1950 – 7 October 1959
Preceded by William Griffiths
Succeeded by James Watts
Member of Parliament for Dundee
In office
27 October 1931 – 4 July 1945
Serving with Dingle Foot
Preceded by Michael Marcus
Edwin Scrymgeour
Succeeded by Thomas Cook
John St Loe Strachey
Personal details
Born (1889-10-13)13 October 1889
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died 6 December 1969(1969-12-06) (aged 80)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Political party Conservative
Occupation Politician

Florence Gertrude Horsbrugh, Baroness Horsbrugh, GBE, PC (13 October 1889 – 6 December 1969) was a Scottish Unionist Party and Conservative Party politician. The historian Kenneth Baxter has argued "in her day... [she] was arguably the best known woman MP in the UK".[1] and that she was "arguably the most successful female Conservative parliamentarian until Margaret Thatcher".[2]

Education[edit]

She was educated at Lansdowne House, Edinburgh, St Hilda’s, Folkestone, and Mills College, California.

Career[edit]

During the First World War, Horsbrugh pioneered a travelling kitchen scheme in Chelsea, London, which gained sufficient renown as to warrant an invitation to bring the kitchen to Buckingham Palace one lunch hour to entertain Queen Mary, who approved particularly of the sweets.[3]

Horsbrugh was a Member of Parliament (MP) for Dundee from 1931 until her defeat in 1945. Her victory in 1931 was a surprising result and she was the first woman to represent the city at Westminster and the first conservative to be elected as MP for Dundee since the city gained its own constituency in 1832. At the time of her election Dundee had not yet elected a female councillor.[1][4][5] She was the first woman to move the Address in reply to the King's Speech. She unsuccessfully contested Midlothian and Peebles in 1950 and was elected in the delayed poll at Manchester Moss Side, sitting from 1950 until her retirement in 1959. On retirement she was elevated to the House of Lords, as a life peer with the title Baroness Horsbrugh, of Horsbrugh in the County of Peebles, where she sat until her death.

She held ministerial office in the wartime coalition governments as Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (1939–45), and Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food (1945). She was only the second woman to hold a ministerial post in a Conservative-led government following Katherine, Duchess of Atholl.[6] As Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health,1939–45, she was responsible for arranging the evacuation of schoolchildren from major cities during the war. Following her return to the House of Commons she was the first woman to hold a Cabinet post in a Conservative government, and only the third woman, after Bondfield and Wilkinson to be appointed as a Cabinet minister in Britain's history (1953-1954), having been appointed Minister of Education in 1951. She also served as a delegate to the Council of Europe and Western European Union from 1955 until 1960.

As part of her lifelong championing of social welfare issues, Horsbrugh took a marked interest in child welfare and introduced, as a private member, the bill which became the Adoption of Children (Regulation) Act 1939. Horsbrugh also carried out a great deal of preparatory work on the scheme which eventually became the National Health Service.

In 1945 she was a British delegate to the San Francisco Conference which established the United Nations.[7]

Awards[edit]

Horsbrugh was appointed MBE in 1920, promoted to CBE in 1939, and to GBE in 1954. She was appointed a Privy Counsellor in 1945.

Horsbrugh was an awarded an LL.D by the University member and was also an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.[8]

Sport[edit]

Baxter relates that Horsbrugh surprised a sports reporter who found her attending Dundee F. C. and Dundee United football matches during the 1935 election campaign. However she was a football fan and apparently supported Hearts.[9]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Baxter, Kenneth (2009). "Florence Gertrude Horsbrugh The Conservative Party’s forgotten first lady" (PDF). Conservative History Journal (8): 21. Retrieved 15 June 2015. 
  2. ^ Baxter, Kenneth (November 2013). "‘The Advent of a Woman Candidate Was Seen . . . As Outrageous’: Women, Party Politics and Elections in Interwar Scotland and England". Journal of Scottish Historical Studies. 33 (2): 268. Retrieved 2 January 2016. 
  3. ^ The Papers of Florence Horsbrugh, Baroness Horsbrugh. "Personal Scrapbook: Travelling Kitchens of WWI," HSBR 2/1. Held at the Churchill Archives Centre.
  4. ^ "MS 270 The Dundee Conservative and Unionist Association". Archive Services Online Catalogue. University of Dundee. Retrieved 3 July 2015. 
  5. ^ Baxter, Kenneth (2010). "“Matriarchal” or “Patriarchal”? Dundee, Women and Municipal Party Politics In Scotland C.1918-C.1939". International Review of Scottish Studies. 35: 100–101. Retrieved 3 July 2015. 
  6. ^ Kenneth Baxter (2011). "Chapter Nine: Identity, Scottish Women and Parliament 1918-1979". In Campbell, Jodi A; Ewan, Elizabeth; Parker, Heather. The Shaping of Scottish Identities: Family, Nation and the Worlds Beyond. Guelph, Ontario: Centre for Scottish Studies, University of Guelph. pp. 150–151. ISBN 978-0-88955-589-1. 
  7. ^ Baxter, Kenneth (November 2013). "‘The Advent of a Woman Candidate Was Seen . . . As Outrageous’: Women, Party Politics and Elections in Interwar Scotland and England". Journal of Scottish Historical Studies. 33 (2): 269. Retrieved 2 January 2016. 
  8. ^ The Times House of Commons 1951. London: The Times Office. 1951. p. 80. 
  9. ^ Baxter, Kenneth (2009). "Florence Gertrude Horsbrugh The Conservative Party’s forgotten first lady" (PDF). Conservative History Journal (8): 22. Retrieved 31 December 2015. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Michael Marcus
Edwin Scrymgeour
Member of Parliament for Dundee
19311945
With: Dingle Foot
Succeeded by
Thomas Cook
John St Loe Strachey
Preceded by
William Griffiths
Member of Parliament for Manchester Moss Side
19501959
Succeeded by
James Watts
Political offices
Preceded by
Robert Bernays
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health
1939–1945
Succeeded by
Hamilton Kerr
Preceded by
George Tomlinson
Minister of Education
1951–1954
Succeeded by
David Eccles