Richard Law, 1st Baron Coleraine

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Coleraine
INF3-58 R K Law Artist Stephen.jpg
A portrait of Richard Law commissioned by the Ministry of Information during the Second World War
Minister of Education
In office
24 May 1945 – 26 July 1945
Preceded by Rab Butler
Succeeded by Ellen Wilkinson
Personal details
Born Richard Kidston Law
(1901-02-27)February 27, 1901
Died November 15, 1980(1980-11-15) (aged 79)
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Parents Bonar Law and Annie Law
Alma mater St John's College, Oxford
Occupation Politician

Richard Kidston Law, 1st Baron Coleraine PC (27 February 1901 – 15 November 1980) was a British Conservative politician. He was the youngest son of the former Conservative Prime Minister Andrew Bonar Law and his wife Annie. He was educated at Shrewsbury School and St John's College, Oxford.

Law was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Hull South West in the general election of 1931 and held the seat until 1945. In 1940 he was appointed Financial Secretary to the War Office. He was then transferred to the post of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs until 1943. While in the latter post he took part in the Bermuda Conference on the fate of European Jewry.[1] He was then Minister of State, also at the Foreign Office, until 1945, when he served briefly as Minister of Education in Churchill's caretaker government. In a by-election in November 1945 he became MP for Kensington South, which he held until February 1950.

In 1950 Law published Return from Utopia, a book in which he stated his belief that trying to use the power of the state to create any sort of Utopia is not just unattainable but positively evil, because one of the first principles to be sacrificed is the principle of freedom and individual choice. Law argued:

To turn our backs on Utopia, to see it for the sham and the delusion that it is, is the beginning of hope. It is to hold out once again the prospect of a society in which man is free to be good because he is free to choose. Freedom is the first condition of human virtue and Utopia is incompatible with freedom. Come back from Utopia and hope is born again.[2]

Law was again elected as an MP in the election of 1951, this time for Haltemprice, but he resigned this seat in February 1954 and was elevated to the House of Lords as Baron Coleraine of Haltemprice in the East Riding of the County of York.

In 1970 Lord Coleraine published another book, For Conservatives Only, in which he criticised the Conservative leadership of the time for, in his view, sacrificing Tory principles for electoral expediency and the pursuit of the "middle ground". At this time he was Patron of the Selsdon Group of Conservative MPs.

Lord Coleraine (when still Richard Law) had married Mary Virginia, daughter of Abraham Fox Nellis, of Rochester, New York, in 1929. He died on 15 November 1980, age 79, and was succeeded in the barony by his son James Martin Bonar Law, 2nd Baron Coleraine.


  1. ^ David Blair, "The Bermuda Conference that Failed to Save the Jews," The Daily Telegraph (London), Saturday 31 January 2015.
  2. ^ Richard Law, Return from Utopia (London: Faber & Faber, 1950), p. 9.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Arnott
Member of Parliament for Hull South West
Succeeded by
Sydney Herbert Smith
Preceded by
Sir William Davison
Member of Parliament for Kensington South
Succeeded by
Sir Patrick Spens
New constituency Member of Parliament for Haltemprice
Succeeded by
Sir Patrick Wall
Political offices
Preceded by
Edward Grigg
Financial Secretary to the War Office
Succeeded by
Duncan Sandys
Preceded by
Rab Butler
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
George Henry Hall
Preceded by
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
William Mabane
Preceded by
Rab Butler
Minister of Education
Succeeded by
Ellen Wilkinson
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Coleraine
Succeeded by
James Martin Bonar Law