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|The Right Honourable
Lilley in 2014
|Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party|
11 June 1997 – 15 June 1999
|Preceded by||Michael Heseltine|
|Succeeded by||Michael Portillo|
|Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer|
11 June 1997 – 2 June 1998
|Preceded by||Kenneth Clarke|
|Succeeded by||Francis Maude|
|Shadow Secretary of State for Social Security|
2 May 1997 – 11 June 1997
|Preceded by||Harriet Harman|
|Succeeded by||Iain Duncan Smith|
|Secretary of State for Social Security|
8 April 1992 – 2 May 1997
|Prime Minister||John Major|
|Preceded by||Tony Newton|
|Succeeded by||Harriet Harman|
|President of the Board of Trade
and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
14 July 1990 – 11 April 1992
|Prime Minister||Margaret Thatcher
|Preceded by||Nicholas Ridley|
|Succeeded by||Michael Heseltine|
|Financial Secretary to the Treasury|
24 July 1989 – 28 November 1990
|Prime Minister||Margaret Thatcher|
|Preceded by||Norman Lamont|
|Succeeded by||Francis Maude|
|Economic Secretary to the Treasury|
11 June 1987 – 24 July 1989
|Prime Minister||Margaret Thatcher|
|Preceded by||Ian Stewart|
|Succeeded by||Richard Ryder|
|Member of Parliament
for Hitchin and Harpenden
St Albans (1983–1997)
9 June 1983
|Preceded by||Victor Goodhew|
|Succeeded by||Kerry Pollard (for St Albans)|
23 August 1943 |
Hayes, Kent, England
|Alma mater||Clare College, Cambridge|
Peter Bruce Lilley (born 23 August 1943) is a British Conservative Party politician who has been a Member of Parliament (MP) since 1983. He currently represents the constituency of Hitchin and Harpenden and, prior to boundary changes, represented St Albans. He was a Cabinet minister in the governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major, serving as Trade and Industry Secretary from July 1990 to April 1992, and as Social Security Secretary from April 1992 to May 1997.
Lilley, whose father was a personnel officer for the BBC, was born at Hayes in Kent. He was educated at Dulwich College and Clare College, Cambridge, where he studied natural sciences before switching to economics. His Cambridge contemporaries included Kenneth Clarke, Michael Howard and Norman Lamont. Before entering Parliament, he was an energy analyst at the City of London stockbroker, W. Greenwell & Co.
Member of Parliament
Having been selected and elected for St. Albans, a safe Conservative seat, in 1983, he served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Nigel Lawson, then as Economic Secretary to the Treasury and Financial Secretary to the Treasury before joining the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to replace Nicholas Ridley in mid-1990 after the latter was forced to resign over an anti-German remark. Initially regarded as a right wing Thatcher loyalist, he privately told her her career was finished after she failed to win outright in the first round ballot of a leadership challenge, and subsequently urged her ultimate successor John Major to stand for election to succeed her.
He contested the 1997 Conservative Party leadership election, placing fourth in a field of five. In opposition, he held the post of Shadow Chancellor from 1997 to 1998 and was Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party from 1998 to 1999.
Lilley is known for being an advocate of marijuana legalisation. In 2001, Lilley provoked some controversy in his party and Britain more widely by calling for cannabis to be legalised in a Social Market Foundation pamphlet.
When David Cameron was elected leader of the Conservatives in December 2005, Lilley was appointed Chairman of the Globalisation and Global Poverty policy group, part of Cameron's extensive 18-month policy review.
Social Security Secretary
John Major made Lilley the Secretary of State at the Department of Social Security at a time when the number of claimants of Invalidity Benefit was growing rapidly. Shortly after his appointment in 1992, Lilley entertained the Conservative Party's annual conference by outlining his plan to "close down the something for nothing society", delivered in the form of a pastiche of the Lord High Executioner's "little list" song from The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan:
"I've got a little list / Of benefit offenders who I'll soon be rooting out / And who never would be missed / They never would be missed. / There's those who make up bogus claims / In half a dozen names / And councillors who draw the dole / To run left-wing campaigns / They never would be missed / They never would be missed. / There's young ladies who get pregnant just to jump the housing queue / And dads who won't support the kids / of ladies they have ... kissed / And I haven't even mentioned all those sponging socialists / I've got them on my list / And there's none of them be missed / There's none of them be missed."
The speech was well received by party members and tabloid newspapers but some commentators "saw his performance as symbolic of a party out of touch with some of society’s most vulnerable people". Spitting Image depicted him as a commandant at a Nazi concentration camp and commentator Mark Lawson of The Independent said that if Lilley stayed as Secretary of State for Social Security, it would be "equivalent to Mary Whitehouse becoming madam of a brothel".
Lilley was among the front bench Conservative ministers who threatened to join the Maastricht Rebels in voting against his government over the signing of the Maastricht Treaty. When asked why Lilley and two of his colleagues had not been sacked from their front bench positions, Major replied "We don't want another three more of the bastards out there"
In 1995, Lilley introduced Incapacity Benefit in the hope of checking the rise in sickness benefit claims. Unlike its predecessor, Invalidity Benefit, this new welfare payment came with a medical test that gauged claimants' ability to do any job and was taxable. Nevertheless, the number of claimants and the cost to the taxpayer continued to rise until it was replaced by Employment and Support Allowance.
Lilley reprised his lampooning of some people drawing benefits from the National Insurance scheme – the overall number of which had grown rapidly on his watch – by singing to the Conservative Party's annual conference after it had lost the general election in 1997. He changed the words of "Land of Hope and Glory" to create a song "Land of Chattering Classes", in condemnation of the purported abandonment of British values and history by Tony Blair's New Labour. Lilley joked that a Labour version of Land and Hope and Glory had been "leaked" to him. He said, "They call it `Land of Pseudo Tories' and it goes like this:
"Land of chattering classes, no more pageantry / Darlings, raise your glasses, to brave modernity / Who needs Nelson or Churchill? The past is so passe / Britain's now about Britpop and the River Cafe / God, this place is so frumpy, let's be more like LA!"
After cheers from the conference, he continued: "Not to be outdone, [Chancellor] Gordon Brown has tried to trump his neighbour [Mr Blair] with a new version of Rule Britannia":"
"Cool Britannia, where saving costs you more / Unless, like Geoffrey Robinson, your Trust's offshore!"
Controversy and climate change
In November 2012, it was reported that Lilley had been selected by the Conservative Party to join the House of Commons Select Committee on Climate Change. Lilley, who was at that time Vice Chairman and Senior Independent Non-Executive Director of Tethys Petroleum and had received over $400,000 in share options was seen by some as being unsuitable for the position because of this role and a perceived conflict of interest. He was one of only three MPs to vote against the Climate Change Act Further scrutiny came from the highlighting by Private Eye that Lilley had previously lobbied then climate change minister Ed Miliband with letters requesting the 'cost of global warming'.
Queen's Speech Amendment
On 19 May 2016, Peter Lilley, backed by other Eurosceptic Tory MPs as well as the other parties proposed a rebel amendment to the Queen's Speech, over fears that the US-EU pact would lead to the privatisation of the NHS by paving the way for American health providers in the UK. Lilley said that the Investor state dispute settlement provision in TTIP would grant American multinationals the right to sue the British government over any regulations which affected their profits, and questioned why the British government had not tried to exclude the NHS from TTIP.
Lilley had earlier committed to supporting withdrawal from the EU during the referendum campaign
He is married to Gail, an artist, and has a holiday home in France.
- Lawson, Mark (2 April 2014). "The making of blue Peter: In the last two years, Peter Lilley has shot from obscurity to Euro-baiting stardom at Tory party conferences. Is the minister who begat the Child Support Agency as right as he's painted?". Independent. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
- "'Legalise cannabis' says Lilley". BBC News. 6 July 2001.
-  Archived 3 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
-  Archived 19 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Programmes | Daily Politics | Your favourite Conference Clips". BBC News. 3 October 2007. Retrieved 18 June 2010.
- "Top ten political reputations made and lost at conference". Total Politics. 2 October 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
- Prince, Rosa (3 Aug 2015). "Peter Lilley: I'm still a 'bastard' but I'm not a troublemaker over Europe". Telegraph. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
- "Lilley possible conflict of interest". Private Eye (1326). 2 November 2012.
- Hickman, Leo (20 November 2012). "MP Peter Lilley has received more than $400,000 in oil company share options". The Guardian. London.
- Eaton, George (11 June 2013). "Why is the right silent over Peter Lilley's links to the oil industry?". The Staggers. newstatesman.com. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
- EU referendum: 25 Tory rebels plot to vote down Queen's Speech as Labour MP caught calling voter 'horrible racist' on campaign trail L. Hughes, The Daily Telegraph, 19 May 2016
- TTIP: Government caves in to cross-party alliance of Eurosceptic MPs demanding NHS is protected from controversial deal O. Wright, The Independent, 19 May 2016
- Lilley, Peter (11 Feb 2016). "Why even David Cameron cannot convince me to vote to remain in the EU". Telegraph. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
- The Rt Hon Peter Lilley MP official constituency website
- Profile at the Conservative Party
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
- Current session contributions in Parliament at Hansard
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Articles authored at Journalisted
- Peter Lilley profile at BBC News, 22 October 2002
- BBC article about Lilley's legalise cannabis proposal 6 July 2001
- Lilley speaks about his work as Chair of the Globalisation and Global Poverty policy group Clare Politics