Peter Walker, Baron Walker of Worcester

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Walker of Worcester
MBE PC
Secretary of State for Wales
In office
13 June 1987 – 4 May 1990
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Nicholas Edwards
Succeeded by David Hunt
Secretary of State for Energy
In office
11 June 1983 – 13 June 1987
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Nigel Lawson
Succeeded by Cecil Parkinson
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
In office
4 May 1979 – 11 June 1983
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by John Silkin
Succeeded by Michael Jopling
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
In office
29 October 1974 – 18 February 1975
Prime Minister Ted Heath
Preceded by Ian Gilmour
Succeeded by George Younger
President of the Board of Trade
In office
5 November 1972 – 4 March 1974
Prime Minister Ted Heath
Preceded by John Davies
Succeeded by Tony Benn
Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
In office
5 November 1972 – 4 March 1974
Prime Minister Ted Heath
Preceded by John Davies
Succeeded by Peter Shore (Trade)
Tony Benn (Industry)
Secretary of State for the Environment
In office
15 October 1970 – 5 November 1972
Prime Minister Ted Heath
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Geoffrey Rippon
Minister of State for Housing and Local Government
In office
19 June 1970 – 15 October 1970
Prime Minister Ted Heath
Preceded by Tony Crosland (Secretary of State for Local Government and Regional Planning)
Succeeded by Position abolished
Member of Parliament
for Worcester
In office
16 March 1961 – 9 April 1992
Preceded by George Ward
Succeeded by Peter Luff
Personal details
Born (1932-03-25)25 March 1932
Brentford, England, UK
Died 23 June 2010(2010-06-23) (aged 78)
Worcester, England, UK
Political party Conservative

Peter Edward Walker, Baron Walker of Worcester, MBE, PC (25 March 1932 – 23 June 2010) was a British politician. A member of the Conservative Party, he served in the Cabinet as the Environment Secretary (1970–72), Trade and Industry Secretary (1972–74), Agriculture Minister (1979–83), Energy Secretary (1983–87) and Welsh Secretary (1987–90). He was a Member of Parliament (MP) representing the constituency of Worcester from 1961 to 1992. He was made a life peer in 1992.

In 1958 he became the youngest to-date National Chairman of the Young Conservatives.[1] Walker was a founder of the Tory Reform Group, and served as Chairman of the Carlton Club.

He died in 2010, shortly after his son, Robin Walker, had been elected the Conservative MP for Worcester.

Education[edit]

Walker was educated at Latymer Upper School in London. He did not go to college or university.

Parliamentary career[edit]

Walker rose through the ranks of the Conservative Party's youth wing, the Young Conservatives. He was a branch chairman at the age of 14, and later National Chairman. He fought the Parliamentary seat of Dartford in the general elections of 1955 and 1959, being beaten each time by Labour's Sydney Irving.

Walker was appointed to the Order of the British Empire as a Member (MBE) in the 1960 Birthday Honours;[2] within four years of his election to Parliament in a by-election in 1961, he had entered the Shadow Cabinet. He later served as Minister of Housing and Local Government (1970), Secretary of State for the Environment (1970–72), and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1972–74) under Prime Minister Edward Heath. From late-1974 to February 1975, Walker served as Shadow Defence Secretary. When Margaret Thatcher became the party leader, Walker did not serve in her Shadow Cabinet. But when the party to power in 1979, he returned to the Cabinet as Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in 1979. He later served as Secretary of State for Energy (1983–87). Whilst at the Department for Energy he played an important role in the Government's successful opposition to the 1984–85 miners' strike.

Walker then served as Secretary of State for Wales between 1987 and 1990. Although the role of Welsh Secretary was ostensibly one of the most junior jobs in the Cabinet, Walker claimed it gave him more influence as it gave access to key economic committees. He stood down from the Cabinet shortly before Thatcher herself was ousted in 1990. Though he had previously been a close ally of Heath's and was generally considered to be on the left of the party, he was nevertheless one of the longest-serving Cabinet members in Thatcher's government. In October 1985, however, he had hit out at Thatcher's reluctance to inject money into the economy in order to ease mass unemployment, speaking of his fears that she could lose the next general election if unemployment did not fall. However, the Tories were re-elected in 1987, by which time unemployment was falling.[3]

Walker's appointment in 1970 as Secretary of State for the Environment was notable in that he became the world's first environment minister. The creation of the Department of the Environment was in response to the growing environmental concerns of the 1960s and one of Walker's immediate concerns was to clean up the nation's waterways. The measures put in place have had substantial results for river life. For instance, the Thames was declared biologically dead in 1957 but today many species of fish thrive in the river, including wild salmon and trout.[4]

Walker was a determined supporter of the hospice movement, becoming a patron of St Richard's Hospice in Worcester when it was founded in 1984. He campaigned determinedly for greater NHS support for St Richard's and the wider hospice movement, which is staffed largely by dedicated volunteers. During a House of Lords debate in 2000, Lord Walker stated: "Anyone who visits hospices and meets the volunteers—the people running them and guiding them—will recognise their unique spiritual and compassionate contribution to the health service."[5]

Upon his retirement from Parliament in 1992, he was appointed a Life peer, as Baron Walker of Worcester, of Abbots Morton in the County of Hereford and Worcester.

Business career[edit]

During the 1960s he was the junior partner in Slater Walker, an asset stripping vehicle used by Jim Slater to generate immense paper profits until 1973. An ill-timed attempt to take over Hill Samuel resulted in the loss of city confidence in Slater Walker and Jim Slater became for a time a "minus millionaire". Peter Walker's political career survived and after retirement from politics he returned to the City as Chairman of Kleinwort Benson.

Other business positions Walker held included: Chairman of Allianz Insurance plc, Vice Chairman of Dresdner Kleinwort and non-executive director of ITM Power plc.

Walker and his wife had five children. His son Robin Walker won the Worcester constituency in the 2010 General Election.[6] In August 2007, Walker crashed his Jaguar X-type through the wall of a woman's house, causing an estimated £20,000 worth of damage and putting the woman in hospital.[7]

He died at St Richard's Hospice on 23 June 2010, after suffering from cancer.[6][8]

Styles and arms[edit]

Styles of address[edit]

  • 1932–1960: Mr Peter Walker
  • 1960–1961: Mr Peter Walker MBE
  • 1961–1970: Mr Peter Walker MBE MP
  • 1970–1992: The Rt Hon. Peter Walker MBE MP
  • 1992: The Rt Hon. Peter Walker MBE
  • 1992–2010: The Rt Hon. The Lord Walker of Worcester MBE PC

Coat of arms[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lord Walker: Durable left-of-centre Conservative politician who served in government under Heath and Thatcher". The Independent. Retrieved 23 November 2015. 
  2. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 42051. p. 3992. 3 June 1960.
  3. ^ "Thatcher Defends Jobs Record Can't Buy Away Unemployment, She Tells Party". Chicago Tribune. 12 October 1985. 
  4. ^ Ellen Widdup (14 July 2009). "Teeming with fish, Thames is cleanest for two centuries". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 23 June 2010. 
  5. ^ Hansard (1 March 2000). "Hospice Movement (Hansard, 1 March 2000)". Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "Peter Walker dies aged 78". Worcester News. 23 June 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2010. 
  7. ^ "Woman's shock over cottage crash". BBC News Online. 1 September 2007. Retrieved 2 September 2007. 
  8. ^ Ex Tory minister Lord Walker dies BBC News 23 June 2010

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Ward
Member of Parliament
for Worcester

19611992
Succeeded by
Peter Luff
Political offices
Preceded by
Tony Crosland
as Secretary of State for Local Government and Regional Planning
Minister of State for Housing and Local Government
1970
Position abolished
New office Secretary of State for the Environment
1970–1972
Succeeded by
Geoffrey Rippon
Preceded by
John Davies
President of the Board of Trade
1972–1974
Succeeded by
Tony Benn
Preceded by
John Davies
Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
1972–1974
Succeeded by
Peter Shore
as Secretary of State for Trade
Succeeded by
Tony Benn
as Secretary of State for Industry
Preceded by
Ian Gilmour
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
1974–1975
Succeeded by
George Younger
Preceded by
John Silkin
Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
1979–1983
Succeeded by
Michael Jopling
Preceded by
Nigel Lawson
Secretary of State for Energy
1983–1987
Succeeded by
Cecil Parkinson
Preceded by
Nicholas Edwards
Secretary of State for Wales
1987–1990
Succeeded by
David Hunt