Irene Ward

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The Baroness Ward of North Tyneside

Irene Ward.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Tynemouth
In office
23 February 1950 – 28 February 1974
Prime MinisterClement Attlee
Preceded byGrace Colman
Succeeded byNeville Trotter
Member of Parliament
for Wallsend
In office
27 October 1931 – 4 July 1945
Preceded byMargaret Bondfield
Succeeded byJohn McKay
Personal details
Born(1895-02-23)23 February 1895
Died26 April 1980(1980-04-26) (aged 85)
Political partyConservative

Irene Mary Bewick Ward, Baroness Ward of North Tyneside, CH, DBE (23 February 1895 – 26 April 1980) was a British Conservative politician. She was a long-serving Member of Parliament (MP).


Irene Ward in 1924

Ward was educated privately and at Newcastle Church High School. She contested Morpeth in 1924 and 1929 without success and was elected to the House of Commons in 1931 for Wallsend, defeating Labour's Margaret Bondfield. A strong advocate for Tyneside industry and social conditions, she lost her seat in the 1945 general election, which Labour won by a landslide.

In 1950, Ward returned to Parliament for Tynemouth, again defeating a female incumbent, Grace Colman. An active backbencher, she introduced the bill that became the Rights of Entry (Gas and Electricity Boards) Act, 1954. She promoted a Bill to pay pocket money to the elderly living in institutions, the Nurses (Amendment) Act, 1961, and the Penalties for Drunkenness Act, 1962. She served on the Public Accounts Committee from 1964.

She is remembered in some quarters for an incident which caused amusement on both sides of the House when she threatened to "poke" the then Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Having received an evasive answer to a parliamentary question, she responded with the words: "I will poke the Prime Minister. I will poke him until I get a response."[citation needed]

Ward retired from the Commons in February 1974, having served a total of almost 38 years. She was the longest-serving female MP (although she would not have been Mother of the House because there was always a longer continuously-serving sitting MP as a result of the gap in her tenure) until that record was broken by Gwyneth Dunwoody in 2007. Aged 79 at her retirement, Ward was at that time also the oldest-ever serving female Member of Parliament and the oldest-ever woman to be re-elected, records not broken until Ann Clwyd achieved both in 2017.[citation needed]


She was created a life peer as Baroness Ward of North Tyneside, of North Tyneside in the County of Tyne and Wear, on 23 January 1975.[1]

Ward was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1929[2] and promoted to Dame Commander (DBE) in 1955,[3] and was appointed a Companion of Honour in 1973.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "No. 46479". The London Gazette. 28 January 1975. p. 1231.
  2. ^ "No. 33501". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 June 1929. p. 3675.
  3. ^ "No. 40497". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 June 1955. p. 3267.
  4. ^ "No. 45984". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 June 1973. p. 6494.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Margaret Bondfield
Member of Parliament for Wallsend
Succeeded by
John McKay
Preceded by
Grace Colman
Member of Parliament for Tynemouth
Succeeded by
Neville Trotter
Honorary titles
Preceded by
John Rankin
Oldest sitting member
1973 – 1974
Succeeded by
David Weitzman