Harold Roberts (politician)

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Harold Roberts (23 August 1884 – 28 Sept 1950)[1] was a British solicitor and Unionist (Conservative) politician. After a long career in local government in Birmingham, he represented the city in the House of Commons for the last five years of his life.

Career[edit]

Roberts was the son William Henry Roberts, and was educated privately before qualifying as a solicitor in 1906. He gained his LL.B degree in 1907,[2] and then practised law in London and in Leicester, before moving to Birmingham in 1911.[3]

He was first elected to Birmingham City Council in 1922, and remained a councillor for over two decades, becoming Lord Mayor of Birmingham in 1936, when he was made an alderman.[3] He chaired the council's Public Health Committee from 1936 to 1930, and the Salaries, Wages and Labour Committee from 1941 to 1943.[3] During his time as mayor he launched the final appeal for the city's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which raised the £250,000 needed to allow construction to be completed.[4]

He was also a life governor of the University of Birmingham.[3]

Parliament[edit]

At the 1945 general election, Roberts was elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Handsworth division of Birmingham.[5] He stood as a Unionist, rather than as a Conservative; the Liberal Unionist tradition lingered in Birmingham long after the 1912 merger of the two parties, with memories of Joseph Chamberlain still strong.[6]

Handsworth was a safe seat for the Unionists, who had held it since 1886. The sitting Unionist MP, Oliver Locker-Lampson, had not been re-selected by his local party, and planned to stand as an Independent Conservative,[6] but was offered a post overseas[7] and did not contest the seat.[8] Even without Locker-Lampson, the seat was contested by five candidates. In addition to the Unionist, Liberal, and Labour parties, there was a Communist Party candidate, and another former Lord Mayor, former Unionist Noel Tiptaft, stood as a "National Independent".[6] Tiptaft proclaimed himself as supporter of the Prime Minister Winston Churchill, prompting Churchill to send a telegram to Alderman Roberts denying that Tiptaft was a supporter of his.[9] Labour took ten of Birmingham's 13 seats, having won none in 1935,[10] but Handsworth was one of the three Birmingham seats retained by the Conservatives.[8] However Roberts's majority was only 3.6% of the votes, compared with the 46% won by Locker-Lampson in a two-way contest in 1935.[8]

Roberts was re-elected in 1950,[11] with an increased majority of 5,472 (i.e. 11.4% of the votes).[12]

He died at his home in Rednal, Worcestershire on 28 September 1950, aged 66.[4] His death triggered a by-election in his Handsworth constituency,[13] which was held in November that year.[14] The 27-year-old baronet Sir Edward Boyle held the seat for the Conservatives, with an increased majority.[14]

Family[edit]

In January 1913, Roberts married Ann Pettifor, the daughter of George Pettifor from Anstey in Leicestershire.[2] She survived him, with one son.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "H" (part 1)
  2. ^ a b Stenton, Michael; Lees, Stephens (1981). Who's Who of British Members of Parliament: Volume IV, 1945–1979. Brighton: The Harvester Press. ISBN 0-85527-335-6. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Obituaries: Mr. Harold Roberts, M.P.". The Times. London. 30 September 1950. p. 6. 
  4. ^ a b "Death Of Birmingham M.P.". The Times. London. p. 4.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help);
  5. ^ "No. 37238". The London Gazette. 24 August 1945. p. 4289. 
  6. ^ a b c "Six Candidates For One Seat Former Lord Mayors In The Fray". The Times. London. 18 June 1945. p. 6. 
  7. ^ "Candidate offered a post abroad". The Times. London. 25 June 1945. p. 2. 
  8. ^ a b c Craig, F. W. S. (1983) [1969]. British parliamentary election results 1918–1949 (3rd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 85. ISBN 0-900178-06-X. 
  9. ^ "Churchil "supporter" disclaimed". The Times. London. 3 July 1945. p. 8. 
  10. ^ "Council Results As Guide Conservative Hopes In Birmingham". The Times. London. 4 February 1950. p. 5. 
  11. ^ "No. 38851". The London Gazette. 28 February 1950. p. 1041. 
  12. ^ "The General Election: Last Night's Results". The Times. London. 24 February 1950. p. 8. 
  13. ^ "No. 39081". The London Gazette. 1 December 1950. p. 6005. 
  14. ^ a b "Conservatives Hold Handsworth Increased Majority". The Times. London. p. 4.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help);

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Oliver Locker-Lampson
Member of Parliament for Birmingham Handsworth
19451950
Succeeded by
Sir Edward Boyle