Sir George Young, 6th Baronet
|The Right Honourable
The Lord Young of Cookham
Bt CH PC
|Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury
Government Chief Whip
in the House of Commons
19 October 2012 – 14 July 2014
|Prime Minister||David Cameron|
|Preceded by||Andrew Mitchell|
|Succeeded by||Michael Gove|
|Leader of the House of Commons
Lord Privy Seal
12 May 2010 – 4 September 2012
|Prime Minister||David Cameron|
|Preceded by||Harriet Harman|
|Succeeded by||Andrew Lansley|
|Shadow Leader of the House of Commons|
8 September 2009 – 11 May 2010
|Preceded by||Alan Duncan|
|Succeeded by||Rosie Winterton|
1 June 1998 – 26 September 2000
|Preceded by||Gillian Shephard|
|Succeeded by||Angela Browning|
|Shadow Chancellor of the
Duchy of Lancaster
1 June 1998 – 26 September 2000
|Preceded by||Gillian Shephard|
|Succeeded by||Angela Browning|
|Shadow Secretary of State for Defence|
11 June 1997 – 1 June 1998
|Preceded by||David Clark|
|Succeeded by||John Maples|
|Secretary of State for Transport|
5 July 1995 – 2 May 1997
|Prime Minister||John Major|
|Preceded by||Brian Mawhinney|
|Succeeded by||John Prescott (Environment, Transport and the Regions)|
|Financial Secretary to the Treasury|
11 July 1994 – 5 July 1995
|Prime Minister||John Major|
|Preceded by||Stephen Dorrell|
|Succeeded by||Michael Jack|
|Member of Parliament
for North West Hampshire
1 May 1997 – 30 March 2015
|Preceded by||David Mitchell|
|Succeeded by||Kit Malthouse|
|Member of Parliament
for Ealing Acton
28 February 1974 – 1 May 1997
|Preceded by||Nigel Spearing|
|Succeeded by||Constituency abolished|
16 July 1941 |
Oxford, United Kingdom
|Spouse(s)||Aurelia Nemon-Stuart (1964–present)|
|Alma mater||Christ Church, Oxford
University of Surrey
George Samuel Knatchbull Young, Baron Young of Cookham, Bt., CH, PC (born 16 July 1941), known as Sir George Young, 6th Baronet, from 1960 to 2015, is a British Conservative Party politician who served as a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1974 to 2015, having represented North West Hampshire since 1997 and Ealing Acton prior to that. He served in Cabinet from 1995 to 1997 as Secretary of State for Transport, and later as the Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal from 2010 to 2012. On 19 October 2012 Young was re-appointed to the Cabinet as Chief Whip of the House of Commons following the resignation of Andrew Mitchell.
On 29 November 2013 Sir George announced he would be retiring from the Commons in May 2015 and thus would not be standing at the next election. In August 2015, it was announced by Downing Street that Young was to be raised to the peerage. He was created Baron Young of Cookham, of Cookham in the Royal County of Berkshire, on 29 September 2015.
Young was born in Oxford in 1941, the elder son of Sir George Peregrine "Gerry" Young, 5th Baronet, CMG and Elisabeth née Knatchbull-Hugessen. His father was a diplomat who met Elisabeth while serving in Beijing (where her father, Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen, was British Ambassador). They married in 1939 and upon his father's death in 1960, George succeeded to the baronetcy created in 1813. Young is the 2nd great grandson of Frederick Lygon, 6th Earl Beauchamp.
Education and early career
Young was educated at St. Aubyns Preparatory School in Rottingdean, Eton College, and then Christ Church, Oxford, where he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics, graduating in 1963 (proceeding MA). He was active in student politics while at Oxford, holding various offices in the Oxford University Conservative Association and being elected to the Standing Committee of the Oxford Union.
After graduating from Oxford, he worked for a while at the merchant bank Hill Samuel, and then at the National Economic Development Office from 1966 to 1967. He then spent two years as Kobler Research Fellow at the University of Surrey, where he completed an MPhil. From 1969 to 1974, Young was an economic adviser to the Post Office Corporation.
Career in local politics
He was elected as a councillor for the London Borough of Lambeth from 1968 to 1971, alongside his wife and John Major. He represented Clapham Town Ward, and served on the Housing Committee. He and other councillors worked as refuse collectors at weekends during a strike. He lost his council seat in 1971.
In 1970, Young was elected to the Greater London Council (GLC) as one of four Members for the London Borough of Ealing. He served on the GLC from 1970 to 1973, where he was vice-chairman of the Strategic Planning Authority. He did not contest his seat on the GLC in 1973, having been selected as a parliamentary candidate for Acton. He was later one of the local government ministers who abolished the GLC in 1986.
Member of Parliament
Young was elected to Parliament at the February 1974 general election as MP for Acton with a majority of 1,300, defeating the sitting Labour Party MP, Nigel Spearing. (Spearing returned to parliament a few weeks later after winning a by-election in Newham South, and the two remained good friends until Spearing retired in 1997.) Young was re-elected as MP for Acton at the October 1974 general election with a majority of 808. He continued to represent Acton (Ealing Acton after 1983) for the next 23 years, until the seat was abolished owing to boundary changes. He was parachuted into the safe Conservative seat of North West Hampshire at the 1997 General Election to replace the retiring MP Sir David Mitchell (the father of Andrew Mitchell whom Young would, in 2012, succeed as Chief Whip). Young was elected with a majority of 11,551, and served as the MP for North West Hampshire until his retirement in 2015.
From 1976 to 1979 Young served as an Opposition Whip. When the Conservative Party won the 1979 general election, he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Security. From 1981 to 1986, Young served as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for the Environment.
On the backbenches from 1986 to 1990, Young was among the leaders of the rebellion within the Conservative Party against the implementation of the Poll Tax. Shortly before leaving office in 1990, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher brought Young back into her Government as a Whip (Comptroller of the Household) as part of her attempts to reunite the Party.
When John Major became Prime Minister in November 1990, he gave Young the role of Minister for Housing and Planning. During this time he is alleged to have said "the homeless are what you step over when you come out of the opera". In 1992 when asked during parliamentary discussions of the Armley Asbestos Disaster for financial assistance in surveying local housing in the Armley area for residual asbestos, Young responded that the government would not provide financial assistance to the home owners or the council to pay for decontamination as this "would not be a justifiable use of public funds".
Young then served as Financial Secretary to the Treasury from 1994 to 1995, and in the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Transport from 1995 to 1997. He was created a Privy Councillor in 1993. Following the Conservative Party's defeat in 1997, Young was appointed to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Defence Secretary by the new party leader, William Hague. In 1998, Young became Shadow Leader of the House of Commons. In 1999, he was given additional responsibilities as Spokesman on Constitutional Affairs. He was a member of the Modernisation Select Committee and of the House of Commons Commission from 1998 to 2000.
Young resigned from the Shadow Cabinet in September 2000 in order to stand for the position of Speaker of the House of Commons. Fourteen MPs put their names forward to succeed the retiring Betty Boothroyd, and many observers considered Young to be the favourite to be elected to the role. He had support from both the Conservative and Labour leadership, however many backbench MPs, particularly those from the Labour Party (who held a large majority in the House at the time), viewed Young as someone who had too recently been a member of his Party's front bench team and was thus not sufficiently in touch with ordinary MPs. In the end, Young was not elected as Speaker, the House choosing instead Labour MP Michael Martin for the role.
From 2000 to 2009, Young remained on the backbenches. He was elected Chairman of the House of Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges in 2001, and was re-elected to that role in 2005.
Young stood again for the position of Speaker of the House of Commons in 2009, finishing second in the ballot of MPs to fellow Conservative MP John Bercow. In the first ever secret ballot of MPs to choose the new Speaker, Bercow defeated Young in the final round of voting by a margin of 322 to 271.
On 8 September 2009, Conservative party leader David Cameron appointed Young as Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, replacing Alan Duncan who had held the post since January 2009. He became the Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal on 12 May 2010 after the Conservative Party formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats following the 2010 general election. In this role, he attended Cabinet meetings, but not as a full member.
Young left his roles as Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal in the Government reshuffle of September 2012. Following this, Prime Minister David Cameron recommended his appointment as a Companion of Honour.
In October 2012 it was reported that Young supported a new group of Conservative MPs established to reconnect the Tories with working class voters. The Blue Collar Conservatism group aims to develop policies to attract "aspirational" voters on average incomes whose support is "vital" to winning a Commons majority at the next election.
On 29 November 2013 Young announced he would retire in May 2015, so would not contest his seat at the General Election.
Tower block housing
He was a vocal critic of tower block housing, saying in 1974: "Nearly all local authorities have now stopped building this type of accommodation, as it is generally recognized they provide an inadequate environment for those who have to live in them. But it is no consolation to the many thousands who will have to live on these estates for the foreseeable future to know that the mistake will not recur." One measure proposed by Young was to make grants and subsidies available to minimize "some of the disadvantages of living on estates containing tower blocks." He described tower block housing as "an economic and social disaster" and said he would "like an assurance that loan sanction would not be given for any more."
In February 1975 he was appointed to the newly formed select committee on Violence in the Family. The committee's terms of reference were "To consider the extent, nature and causes of the problems of families where there is violence between the partners or where children suffer non-accidental injury: and to make recommendations." The committee issued an interim report in September 1975 and was instrumental in setting up several government research reports into domestic violence. In 1976 he sponsored the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill which allowed victims of rape to remain anonymous.
In 1982 Young and his children appeared on a British Rail poster alongside Jimmy Savile to promote new measures to allow people to take their bicycles on trains more easily. Young had made a critical speech in Parliament about the provisions for cyclists to take their bikes on trains, and when British Rail implemented new measures they invited Young to appear on the publicity poster. His enthusiasm for cycling has earned Young the nickname of the "Bicycling Baronet".
Titles and styles
- Mr George Young (1941–1960)
- Sir George Young Bt (1960–1974)
- Sir George Young Bt MP (1974–1993)
- The Rt. Hon. Sir George Young Bt MP (1993–2012)
- The Rt. Hon. Sir George Young Bt CH MP (2012–2015)
- The Rt. Hon. Sir George Young Bt CH (2015)
- The Rt. Hon. The Lord Young of Cookham Bt CH PC (2015–)
Personal and family life
Young married Aurelia Nemon-Stuart, daughter of the sculptor Oscar Nemon, at Oxford in 1964. The couple have four children together: Sophia (b. 23 May 1965), George (b.11 October 1966), Hugo (b.1970) and Camilla (b.1975).
In 1987 Young was banned from driving after being caught drink driving. It was reported that he smashed into a motorway barrier and continued on until stopped by police.
Sir George's family wealth is estimated to be at least £1 million.
- James, Aiden; Rath, Kayte (4 September 2012). "As it happened: Reshuffle". BBC News. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
- "Andrew Mitchell Resigns After 'Plebs' Row". Sky News. 20 October 2012. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
- "Sir George Young To Retire in 2015". Andover Town. 30 November 2013. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
- "Dissolution Peerages 2015". Gov.uk. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- "no. 61369. p. 18373". The London Gazette. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
- Winter, Laura, ed. (2015). "Young, George Samuel Knatchbull Rt Hon Sir". Debrett's People of Today 2015. London: Debrett's Peerage. Retrieved 2 April 2015 – via Credo Reference. (subscription required)
- "YOUNG, Rt Hon. Sir George (Samuel Knatchbull)". Who's Who. A & C Black. 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2015. (subscription required)
- "University News". The Times (London). 20 September 1967. p. 10.
- "Government looking to Post Office for rigorous economies: return to realistic prices will be 'painful'". The Times (London). 16 July 1975. p. 6.
- "Greater London Council election results". The Times (London). 11 April 1970. p. 3.
- "Ealing candidate". The Times (London). 4 November 1971. p. 4.
- "One third of GLC Tories will not contest election". The Times (London). 4 January 1973. p. 4.
- "Personal Profile". The Rt Hon Sir George Young Bt. 2015. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
- Clark, George (20 November 1976). "Mr Maudling ousted as Tories put more youth at helm". The Times (London). p. 1.
- "List of Tory frontbench spokesmen". The Times (London). 20 November 1976. p. 2.
- "Complete list of Mrs Thatcher's Cabinet and ministers". The Times (London). 30 November 1979. p. 6.
- "By George: housing policy". The Economist (London). 9 November 1991. Retrieved 15 April 2015. – via HighBeam (subscription required)
- Eaton, George (19 October 2012). "Sir George Young appointed new Chief Whip". New Statesman. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
- Shields, Tom (1 February 2011). "A bit of a joker is Sir George Young". The Herald (Glasgow). Retrieved 15 April 2015.
Sir George has a track record for witticism. He once quipped: "The homeless? Aren't they the people you step over when you are coming out of the opera?"– via HighBeam (subscription required)
- Hart, Jessica (24 October 2000). "Commons Speaker: Man of Humour Values Tradition". Birmingham Post (Birmingham). Retrieved 15 April 2015. – via HighBeam (subscription required)
- Beattie, Jason (22 June 2009). "The £2M Speaker". Daily Mirror (London). Retrieved 15 April 2015. – via HighBeam (subscription required)
- Schofield, Kevin (23 June 2009). "Maverick Tory gets Speaker job, aged just 46". Daily Record (Glasgow). Retrieved 15 April 2015. – via HighBeam (subscription required)
- Beattie, Jason (24 June 2009). "Speaker's Suit Marks Change". Daily Mirror (London). Retrieved 15 April 2015. – via HighBeam (subscription required)
- The London Gazette: . 20 September 2012.
- "Honours for cabinet reshuffle casualties - Number 10". BBC News. 6 September 2012. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
- "Tory Reform Group People". Tory Reform Group. Archived from the original on 8 February 2007. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
- "MPs set up an all-party group to lend bicycles". The Times (London). 14 July 1977. p. 3.
- Ross, Tim (1 November 2012). "Sir George Young and four ministers join 'Blue Collar' Tory group". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 1 April 2015.
- "Grants to ease tension in tower blocks urged". The Times (London). 6 April 1974. p. 4.
- Evans, Peter (9 May 1974). "Action promised on problems of families living in tower blocks". The Times (London). p. 4.
- "Important studies into life in tower blocks". The Times (London). 25 May 1974. p. 5.
- "MPs named for committee on battered wives". The Times (London). 12 February 1975. p. 4.
- "Family violence under scrutiny". The Times (London). 26 February 1976. p. 3.
- "Government support for Bill to allow victims of rape to remain anonymous". The Times (London). 14 February 1976. p. 6.
- "Court Circular". The Times (London). 24 May 1965. p. 12.
- "Births". The Times (London). 13 October 1966. p. 2.
- "Aurelia, Lady Young". The Rt Hon Sir George Young Bt. 2015. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
- "Channel Tunnel Rail Link". Hansard. 29 February 1996. Retrieved 29 April 2010.
- "Sir George Young". The Rt Hon Sir George Young Bt. 2015. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
- "Why Sir George got on his bike". Daily Mail (London). 14 June 2009. Retrieved 7 August 2009.
- Owen, Glen (23 May 2010). "The coalition of millionaires: 23 of the 29 member of the new cabinet are worth more than £1m... and the Lib Dems are just as wealthy as the Tories". Mail on Sunday (London). Retrieved 1 April 2015.
- Sir George Young Bt MP Official constituency website
- George Young's channel on YouTube
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
- Current session contributions in Parliament at Hansard
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Profile at BBC News Democracy Live
- Articles authored at Journalisted
- Profile: George Young, BBC News, 30 March 2006
- Cycling Group APPG on SourceWatch