Reg Underhill

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Henry Reginall Underhill, Baron Underhill CBE (8 May 1914 – 12 March 1993),[1] also known as Reg Underhill, was a British party worker and Labour politician.


He was the youngest son of Henry James Underhill and his wife Alice Maud Butler.[2] Underhill was educated at Leyton Central School and left it in 1929.[3] Aged only sixteen, he joined the Labour Party in the following year and was a Lloyd's Underwriter until 1933.[3]


Subsequently Underhill began working as a junior clerk in the party's head office and became vice-chairman in the constituency of Leyton West.[3] He was appointed an honorary secretary of the British Workers' Sports Association and in 1936 travelled with the British delegation to the People's Olympiad in Barcelona.[4] During the Second World War, Underhill refused to fight, citing his socialism, however served in the National Fire Service in London, often acting as a driver.[3]

In 1945, after the end of the war, he was assistant to Morgan Phillips, at that time the General Secretary of the Labour Party.[3] He was then administrative assistant to the party's national agent until 1947 and worked as propaganda officer until the next year.[3] From 1948, Underhill served as Labour's regional organiser in the West Midlands until 1960, when he was chosen assistant national agent.[3]

In 1972, he finally became the National Agent of the Labour Party.[5] His work involved reporting on the Militant tendency as entrists into the Labour Party, eventually leading to their expulsion from the party.[6] Underhill was awarded a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1976 Prime Minister's Resignation Honours[7] and on his retirement from his post in 1979, he was created a life peer with the title Baron Underhill, of Leyton, in Greater London on 12 July.[8] He became Labour's Opposition front bench spokesman on transport in the House of Lords in 1980 and on electoral affairs in 1983.[3] On the resignation of Cledwyn Hughes in 1982, Underhill was elected deputy leader of Labour in the House, a post he held until 1989.[9] He was a founding member of the reformed Association of Professional, Executive, Clerical and Computer Staff and received the union's gold medal.[3]


He married Flora Philbrick in 1937.[9] Underhill died in a hospital in Epping in 1993 and left a daughter, Joan, and two sons, Terry and Bob.[9]


  1. ^ "Leigh Rayment - Peerage". Retrieved 14 November 2009. 
  2. ^ Charles Roger Dod and Robert Phipps Dod (1990). Dod's Parliamentary Companion. p. 305. ISBN 0-905702-16-6. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Lord Ardwick (15 March 1993). "Obituary: Lord Underhill". The Independent. Retrieved 8 June 2009. 
  4. ^ Sturgis, Matthew (19 March 1993). "Obituary: Lord Underhill". The Independent. Retrieved 8 June 2009. 
  5. ^ Benn, Tony (1991). Ruth Winstone, ed. Conflicts of Interest: Diaries 1977-80. Arrows. p. 615. ISBN 0-09-989870-5. 
  6. ^ Michael Crick (11 August 2015). "Why entrism is such a small part of Jeremy Corbyn's rise". Channel 4 News. London. Retrieved 14 August 2015. 
  7. ^ "No. 46916". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 June 1976. p. 7824. 
  8. ^ "No. 47907". The London Gazette. 17 July 1979. p. 9009. 
  9. ^ a b c "Lord Underhill Dead; A Labour Stalwart, 78". The New York Times. 14 March 1993. Retrieved 29 October 2006. 

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Ron Hayward
Labour Party National Agent
Succeeded by
David Hughes