Peter Lilley

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The Right Honourable
Peter Lilley
MP
Peter Lilley.jpg
Lilley in 2012
Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party
In office
11 June 1997 – 15 June 1999
Leader William Hague
Preceded by Michael Heseltine
Succeeded by Michael Portillo
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
11 June 1997 – 2 June 1998
Leader William Hague
Preceded by Kenneth Clarke
Succeeded by Francis Maude
Shadow Secretary of State for Social Security
In office
2 May 1997 – 11 June 1997
Leader John Major
Preceded by Harriet Harman
Succeeded by Iain Duncan Smith
Secretary of State for Social Security
In office
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
In office
14 July 1990 – 11 April 1992
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
John Major
Preceded by Nicholas Ridley
Succeeded by Michael Heseltine
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
In office
24 July 1989 – 28 November 1990
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Norman Lamont
Succeeded by Francis Maude
Economic Secretary to the Treasury
In office
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)
Assumed office
9 June 1983
Preceded by Victor Goodhew
Succeeded by Kerry Pollard (for St Albans)
Majority 15,271 (27.9%)
Personal details
Born (1943-08-23) 23 August 1943 (age 72)
Hayes, Kent, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Gail
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.

Early life[edit]

Lilley, whose father was a personnel officer for the BBC, was born at Hayes in Kent.[1] He was educated at Dulwich College and Clare College, Cambridge, where he studied natural sciences before switching to economics.[1] 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.[1]

Lilley was chairman of conservative think tank the Bow Group from 1973–75.

Member of Parliament[edit]

In October 1974 he fought the safe-Labour seat of Tottenham, being beaten by Norman Atkinson.

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 lost the first round ballot of a leadership challenge, and subsequently urged her ultimate successor John Major to stand for election to succeed her.[1]

After the 1992 general election he became Secretary of State for Social Security.

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.[2] 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.[3]

Lilley produced a report for the Bow Group in 2005 that was highly critical of Government plans to introduce national identity cards.[4]

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[edit]

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."[5]

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".[6]

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"[7]

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.[citation needed]

Conference song[edit]

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[edit]

In November 2012, it was reported[8] 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.[9] He was one of only three MPs to vote against the Climate Change Act[10] 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'.[8]

Queen's Speech Amendment[edit]

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.[11] 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.

The UK government ultimately agreed to amend the Queen's Speech to commit to explicitly protecting the NHS from the terms of the future trade deal.[12]

Lilley had earlier committed to supporting withdrawal from the EU during the referendum campaign[13]

Personal life[edit]

He is married to Gail, an artist, and has a holiday home in France.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d 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. 
  2. ^ "'Legalise cannabis' says Lilley". BBC News. 6 July 2001. 
  3. ^ [1] Archived 3 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ [2] Archived 19 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "Programmes | Daily Politics | Your favourite Conference Clips". BBC News. 3 October 2007. Retrieved 18 June 2010. 
  6. ^ "Top ten political reputations made and lost at conference". Total Politics. 2 October 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ a b "Lilley possible conflict of interest". Private Eye (1326). 2 November 2012. 
  9. ^ Hickman, Leo (20 November 2012). "MP Peter Lilley has received more than $400,000 in oil company share options". The Guardian (London). 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ 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
  12. ^ 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
  13. ^ Lilley, Peter (11 Feb 2016). "Why even David Cameron cannot convince me to vote to remain in the EU". Telegraph. Retrieved 14 June 2016. 

External links[edit]

Offices held[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Victor Goodhew
Member of Parliament
for St Albans

19831997
Succeeded by
Kerry Pollard
New constituency Member of Parliament
for Hitchin and Harpenden

1997–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Ian Stewart
Economic Secretary to the Treasury
1987–1989
Succeeded by
Richard Ryder
Preceded by
Norman Lamont
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
1989–1990
Succeeded by
Francis Maude
Preceded by
Nicholas Ridley
President of the Board of Trade
1990–1992
Succeeded by
Michael Heseltine
Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
1990–1992
Preceded by
Tony Newton
Secretary of State for Social Security
1992–1997
Succeeded by
Harriet Harman
Preceded by
Harriet Harman
Shadow Secretary of State for Social Security
1997
Succeeded by
Iain Duncan Smith
Preceded by
Kenneth Clarke
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
1997–1998
Succeeded by
Francis Maude
Party political offices
Preceded by
Michael Heseltine
Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party
1997–1999
Succeeded by
Michael Portillo