Selwyn Lloyd

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For other people named John Lloyd, see John Lloyd (disambiguation).
The Right Honourable
The Lord Selwyn-Lloyd
Selwyn Lloyd, Speaker.png
Speaker of the House of Commons
In office
12 January 1971 – 3 February 1976
Monarch Elizabeth II
Preceded by Horace King
Succeeded by George Thomas
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
In office
16 October 1964 – 4 August 1965
Leader Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Preceded by Herbert Bowden
Succeeded by Fred Peart
Lord Privy Seal
Leader of the House of Commons
In office
18 October 1963 – 16 October 1964
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Preceded by Iain Macleod
Succeeded by Herbert Bowden
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
27 July 1960 – 13 July 1962
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan
Preceded by Derick Heathcoat Amory
Succeeded by Reginald Maudling
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
In office
22[1] December 1955 – 27 July 1960
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Anthony Eden
Harold Macmillan
Preceded by Harold Macmillan
Succeeded by The Earl of Home
Minister of Defence
In office
7 April 1955 – 20 December 1955
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Anthony Eden
Preceded by Harold Macmillan
Succeeded by Sir Walter Monckton
Minister of Supply
In office
18 October 1954 – 7 April 1955
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill
Preceded by Duncan Sandys
Succeeded by Reginald Maudling
Member of Parliament
for Wirral
In office
5 July 1945 – 11 March 1976
Preceded by Alan Crosland Graham
Succeeded by David Hunt
Personal details
Born John Selwyn Brooke Lloyd
(1904-07-28)28 July 1904
West Kirby, Wirral, Cheshire, England
Died 18 May 1978(1978-05-18) (aged 73)
Nationality British
Political party
None (1971–1978)
Conservative (1945–1971)
Alma mater Fettes College
Magdalene College, Cambridge
Religion Methodist

John Selwyn Brooke Lloyd, Baron Selwyn-Lloyd CH CBE TD PC (28 July 1904 – 18 May 1978), known for most of his career as Selwyn Lloyd, was a British Conservative Party politician who served as Foreign Secretary from 1955 to 1960, then as Chancellor of the Exchequer until 1962. He was elected Speaker of the House of Commons in 1971, serving until his retirement in 1976.


Lloyd was born in West Kirby, now in Merseyside, but then in the county of Cheshire, the son of John Wesley Lloyd, a dental surgeon, and his wife, Mary Rachel Warhurst.[2] He was educated at Fettes College and Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he was President of the Cambridge Union and the Cambridge University Liberal Club.[3]

Early career[edit]

He was a Liberal Parliamentary candidate at Macclesfield in the 1929 general election, coming third. After this he concentrated on a legal career having been admitted to Gray's Inn in 1926. He was called to the bar in 1930.[4] He served as a councillor on Hoylake Urban District Council 1932–40.

World War II service[edit]

During the Second World War he reached the rank of brigadier and was Deputy Chief of Staff of the British Second Army. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1943[5] and promoted to Commander (CBE) in 1945.[6]

Election to Parliament[edit]

He was elected to the House of Commons to represent Wirral in the 1945 general election. Originally a Liberal, he became a member of the "Young Turks" faction of the Conservative Party. He became a King's Counsel in 1947 and served as the Recorder of Wigan between 1948 and 1951.[4]

Ministerial offices[edit]

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs[edit]

When the Conservatives returned to power under Churchill in 1951, Lloyd served under Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs from 1951 to 1954. The following exchange is said to have taken place at his appointment: 'But, sir, there must be some mistake. I do not speak any foreign language. Except in war, I have never visited any foreign country. I do not like foreigners. I have never spoken in any foreign-affairs debate in the House. I have never listened to one.'

'Young man, these all seem to me to be positive advantages,' growled Churchill in return.[7]

Minister of Supply and Minister of Defence[edit]

He then served as Minister of Supply (1954–1955). He was subsequently Minister of Defence (1955).

Foreign Secretary[edit]

He became Foreign Secretary in 1955. His tenure saw the Suez Crisis, which led to the fall of the Eden government. While Foreign Secretary he was noted for not being on particularly good terms with his American counterpart, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles.

He was reappointed Foreign Secretary by the new Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in January 1957. This was met, in the words of a contemporary observer, with a “long, cold arch of raised eyebrows”, whilst Aneurin Bevan likened him to a monkey to Macmillan’s organgrinder.[8] He continued to serve as Foreign Secretary until 1960.

Chancellor of the Exchequer[edit]

In 1960 Lloyd became Chancellor of the Exchequer.[9] He became a focus of public unpopularity for the "Pay Pause" of 1961. The Conservatives lost the Orpington by-election on 14 March 1962.[10] Lloyd's second and final budget, on 9 April 1962, introduced an unpopular tax on children's sweets. Macmillan, disingenuously, as he had already decided to sack him, wrote to him on 11 April congratulating him and asking him to begin preparing an expansionary budget for 1963 to help the Conservatives win re-election.[11] At the Leicester North East by-election, on 12 July 1962, the Conservative share of the vote dropped from 48.1% in 1959 to 24.2%.[12]

Macmillan would have liked to appoint Lloyd Home Secretary, as he was moving Rab Butler from this post, but Lloyd had made clear when Macmillan became Prime Minister in January 1957 that as an opponent of capital punishment it would not be proper for him to accept that position (because a person sentenced to hang was entitled to appeal to the Monarch for mercy, which in practice meant that the Home Secretary, to whom the task was delegated, had the final say on whether any execution should proceed).[13] Macmillan later compared Lloyd to Augustine Birrell for his links to the nonconformist vote of North West England.[14]

Lloyd was sacked from the government and returned to the backbenches during the "Night of the Long Knives" reshuffle in July 1962. He was replaced by Reginald Maudling, then seen as a potential future leader of the Conservative Party, and whose remit was to reflate the economy going into the next General Election due by the end of 1964. Lloyd was cheered to the echo when he reentered the Commons after his sacking, whereas Macmillan entered in silence from his own party and jeers from the Opposition, and was subjected to public criticism (then almost unprecedented) from his predecessor Lord Avon. Lloyd privately thought Macmillan too obsessed with unemployment, risking higher inflation.[15] On 20 July 1962 Lloyd was appointed a Companion of Honour, having refused the offer of a peerage from Macmillan.[4][16]

Following his recent divorce, Lloyd had been living at Chequers, normally the Prime Minister's country residence. Lloyd left behind his black Labrador, "Sambo", for whom there was no room in his London flat. At a meeting of the new Cabinet at Chequers later that summer, the dog was observed to be sniffing amongst the ministers looking for his master. Macmillan ignored the animal, which was likened by one observer to Banquo's ghost.[17]

Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons[edit]

Lloyd became a popular figure with Conservative Party members after travelling the country in the bitter winter of 1962-3 (the worst since 1946-7) to write his report on party organisation. After Macmillan's impending resignation was announced, Lloyd was a pivotal figure in whipping up support for Alec Douglas-Home as a potential successor at the Blackpool Conference. He was also an influential figure with the Chief Whip Martin Redmayne.[18] He visited Macmillan in hospital on Wednesday 16 October, and advised against appointing Rab Butler, who, he said, was disliked in the constituency associations.[19]

Lloyd was called back to the government in 1963 by Alec Douglas-Home, who made him Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons until the Conservative defeat in the general election of 1964.

Speaker of the House of Commons[edit]

In 1971, after the Conservatives had returned to power, Lloyd became Speaker. In a break with convention, both the Labour and Liberal Parties contested his seat in both the February 1974 and October 1974 general elections, but he retained it and continued to hold the speakership until 1976.

Peerage and later life[edit]

On 8 March 1976 he was created a life peer as Baron Selwyn-Lloyd, of Wirral in the County of Merseyside.[20] In retirement, he wrote two books, although he did not complete his planned memoirs. In 1978, he was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and he died at home in Preston Crowmarsh, Oxfordshire on 18 May 1978.[4]

Personal life[edit]

He was married in the Wirral in March 1951 to Elizabeth Marshall, known as Bae, his secretary and the daughter of Roland Marshall of West Kirby.[21] A solicitor by profession, she was born in 1928, making her 23 years his junior.[4] They had a daughter, Joanna, and divorced in 1957.[22][23] Rab Butler quipped that Selwyn’s wife had left him “because he got into bed with his sweater on”.[24]


  1. ^ S. Lloyd, 'Suez 1956: A Personal Account', p. 33
  2. ^ Birth registered in the Wirral Registration District in the third quarter of 1904.
  3. ^ Website of the Keynes Society for Cambridge Student Liberal Democrats, accessed 12 June 2012
  4. ^ a b c d e Thorpe, D. R. "Lloyd, (John) Selwyn Brooke, Baron Selwyn-Lloyd (1904–1978)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/31371.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36033. p. 2426. 2 June 1943.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36917. p. 670. 1 February 1945.
  7. ^ Never Had It So Good: A History of Britain from Suez to the Beatles by Dominic Sandbrook
  8. ^ Sandford 2005, pp.77-8
  9. ^ Edmund Dell, The Chancellors: A History of the Chancellors of the Exchequer, 1945-90 (HarperCollins, 1997) pp 258-82.
  10. ^ Thorpe 2010, p. 518
  11. ^ Thorpe 2010, p. 520
  12. ^ Thorpe 2010, p. 521
  13. ^ Thorpe 2010, p. 522
  14. ^ Thorpe 2010, p.xiv
  15. ^ Thorpe 2010, p. 524-5
  16. ^ The London Gazette: no. 42736. p. 5807. 20 July 1962.
  17. ^ Thorpe 2010, p. 525
  18. ^ Thorpe 2010, p. 564
  19. ^ Thorpe 2010, p. 572
  20. ^ The London Gazette: no. 46847. p. 3685. 11 March 1976.
  21. ^ Marriage registered in the Wirral Registration District in the first quarter of 1951.
  22. ^ D R Thorpe: Lloyd, (John) Selwyn Brooke, Baron Selwyn-Lloyd (1904–1978), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2011 accessed 13 Sept 2012
  23. ^ The Times (Thursday, 18 May 1978), p. 21.
  24. ^ Sandford 2005, pp.78

Further reading[edit]

  • Dell, Edmund. The Chancellors: A History of the Chancellors of the Exchequer, 1945-90 (HarperCollins, 1997) pp 258-82, covers his term as Chancellor.
  • Sandbrook, Dominic (2005). Never Had It So Good. London: Little, Brown. ISBN 978-0-349-11530-6. 
  • Thorpe, D. R. (2010). Supermac: The Life of Harold Macmillan (Kindle ed.). London: Chatto & Windus. ISBN 978-1-844-13541-7. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Alan Crosland Graham
Member of Parliament for The Wirral
Succeeded by
David Hunt
Preceded by
Dr Horace King
Speaker of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
George Thomas
Political offices
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Harold Macmillan
Minister of Defence
Succeeded by
Walter Monckton
Preceded by
Harold Macmillan
Foreign Secretary
Succeeded by
The Earl of Home
Preceded by
Derick Heathcoat Amory
Chancellor of the Exchequer
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Reginald Maudling
Preceded by
Iain Macleod
Leader of the House of Commons
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Herbert Bowden
Preceded by
Edward Heath
Lord Privy Seal
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