Ivor Richard, Baron Richard
|The Right Honourable
The Lord Richard
|Leader of the House of Lords
Lord Privy Seal
2 May 1997 – 27 July 1998
|Prime Minister||Tony Blair|
|Preceded by||The Viscount Cranborne|
|Succeeded by||The Baroness Jay of Paddington|
|Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords|
18 July 1992 – 2 May 1997
Margaret Beckett (Acting)
|Preceded by||Tge Cledwyn of Penrhos|
|Succeeded by||The Viscount Cranborne|
|European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs|
6 January 1981 – 5 January 1985
|Preceded by||Henk Vredeling|
|Succeeded by||Peter Sutherland|
|British Ambassador to the United Nations|
2 June 1974 – 21 December 1979
|Preceded by||Donald Maitland|
|Succeeded by||Anthony Parsons|
|Member of Parliament
for Barons Court
15 October 1964 – 28 February 1974
|Preceded by||Bill Carr|
|Succeeded by||Constituency abolished|
30 May 1932 |
Carmarthenshire, United Kingdom
|Alma mater||Pembroke College, Oxford|
Richard is a native of Carmarthenshire in South West Wales, and went to school in Llanelli before attending the co-educational independent school Cheltenham College. He won the Wightwick Scholarship to Pembroke College, Oxford, where he read Jurisprudence. He was called to the Bar in 1955 and practised as a barrister in London.In 1963 he defended, under Lewis Hawser QC Brian Field, a solicitor's clerk who played "an essential role in the conspiracy" of the Great Train Robbery. Field's share of the robbery had been found in woods near Dorking and he was acquitted of the robbery on appeal, a remarkable result.
Lord Richard had been an active member of the Labour Party and the Fabian Society since University and stood for Parliament in Kensington South in the general election of 1959. This was one of the most prosperous constituencies in the whole of the country and he came third, but it was intended as no more than an opportunity to try his campaigning skills. For the 1964 election, Richard was adopted as candidate for Baron's Court, a highly marginal constituency between Hammersmith and Fulham. Baron's Court had seen knife-edge contests before and the presence of the BBC television centre nearby ensured good media coverage.
Richard won the seat by just over 1,000 votes. In Parliament he served briefly as an assistant to Denis Healey as Secretary of State for Defence and was appointed as Minister for the Army in 1969. He was lucky to keep his seat despite the swing to the Conservatives in the 1970 election, and he became an opposition spokesman on telecommunications. He lost this job when he voted in favour of joining the European Communities (Common Market) in 1971, but was swiftly reappointed as a Foreign Affairs spokesman.
However, the Baron's Court seat was too small to survive the redistribution which took effect in 1974 and Richard found it difficult to find a new seat, as pro-Europeanism was not popular within the Labour Party. He was eventually chosen at the last minute to fight Blyth against the sitting Labour MP who had been deselected in a row over his allegations of the corruption of the local Labour Party. With no background in the area, and a popular opponent, Richard was defeated convincingly.
The incoming Labour Government appointed him in June 1974 as the UK Permanent Representative to the UN, where he served for five years. Richard played a role in trying to bring together the sides in the Middle East and Rhodesia conflicts. He became a figure of controversy after the then US Ambassador, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, criticised the UN for passing a resolution stating that Zionism was a form of racism, and Richard denounced him for behaving "like the Wyatt Earp of international politics"; shortly thereafter Moynihan was removed from office by Henry Kissinger.
Richard presided as chairman over the Geneva Conference on Rhodesia from 28 October to 14 December 1976. The conference was called to implement the terms of Henry Kissinger's agreement with Prime Minister Ian Smith of Rhodesia from the previous month on the creation of an interim government to preside while a new majority-rule constitution was written. But the various African nationalists from Rhodesia refused to recognise the agreement and no progress was made during the six weeks of the conference. Smith was scathing in his treatment of Richard in his memoirs, citing Richard's "lack of integrity and courage" in failing to hold to the terms of the Kissinger agreement.
The incoming Conservative government in 1979 replaced Richard within months. However, in 1980 he was chosen by the Labour Party to take one of the posts on the European Commission (replacing Roy Jenkins). It was known that he was the Labour Party's third choice for the position: former Treasury Minister Joel Barnett had rejected an invitation, and former Defence Secretary Fred Mulley had been vetoed by the Conservative government. Richard took responsibility for Employment, Social Policy, Education and Training.
Richard returned to Wales in 1985 and was appointed Chairman of World Trade Centre Wales Ltd., which tried to attract international investors for Welsh business. In 1990, his name was included on a list of Labour Party 'Working Peers', and was created a life peer on 14 May 1990 taking the title Baron Richard, of Ammanford in the County of Dyfed and became an opposition spokesman in the House of Lords. His barrister's style led to his appointment as Leader of the Labour Peers from 1992, which brought with it appointment to the Privy Council. Richard attempted to step up the Labour attack and in late 1993 pioneered an unprecedented (for the House of Lords) Motion of No Confidence in the Government, although he acknowledged it was a symbolic gesture and would not bring down the government, due to the primacy of the House of Commons.
When Labour won the 1997 election, Richard became Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords. With Labour policy favouring a reform of the House starting with removal of the hereditary peers, Richard began work on the new composition of the House, but was shocked when he was suddenly removed at the first reshuffle in July 1998 to be replaced by Baroness Jay of Paddington. His thoughts on the reform of the House were published in Unfinished Business in 1999 and Richard became a critical friend of the Government.
Lord Richard currently serves as Chairman of the parliamentary Joint Committee on the Draft House of Lords Reform Bill.
The Coalition Government in the National Assembly for Wales invited Richard to chair a commission on the future powers of the Assembly from 2002. The report was published on 31 March 2004 and recommended that the Assembly have full primary legislative powers in devolved areas from 2011, a recommendation that was controversial with Wales' Labour MPs.
- Elaine Windrich, Britain and the politics of Rhodesian independence, p. 264
- Smith, Ian (2008). Bitter Harvest: Zimbabwe and the Aftermath of Its Independence. London: John Blake Publishing. pp. 212–213. ISBN 978-1-84358-548-0.
- Smith 2008: 222
- "No. 52141". The London Gazette. 17 May 1990. p. 9287.