John Peel (Leicester MP)

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William John Peel
Born (1912-06-16)16 June 1912
Died 8 May 2004(2004-05-08) (aged 91)
Title Knight Bachelor
Political party British Conservative Party

Sir William John Peel (16 June 1912 – 8 May 2004) was a British Conservative Party politician, and Member of Parliament for Leicester South East from 1957 to 1974.

He attended Wellington College and Queens' College, Cambridge. His previous career had been in the colonial service, surviving imprisonment by the Japanese during World War II, when he was stationed in Singapore, to serve terms as British Resident in Brunei and then Resident Commissioner in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony, now Kiribati and Tuvalu, before retiring in 1951. His father Sir William Peel had been Governor of Hong Kong.

Elected as a member of the House of Commons at a by-election in 1957, he provoked an angry response from both sides of the House in 1959 when he reacted to the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya by saying "There are obvious risks in dealing with desperate and sub-human individuals." In the resulting debate, where Peel's remarks were denounced by Enoch Powell, it was emphasized that Britain needed to accord the same standards of human rights to all continents. Though Peel's tenure of minor government positions was uninterrupted, he never reached the Cabinet.

Peel was a zealous advocate of British involvement in Europe, through the Council of Europe, Western European Union, and eventually membership, of which he was a leading advocate, in the European Common Market. In 1972 he was chosen President of the North Atlantic Assembly. The next year he became one of the first British members of the European Parliament. He was knighted in 1973.


Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Charles Waterhouse
Member of Parliament for Leicester South East
1957Feb 1974
Constituency abolished