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The Lord Young of Graffham
Young c. 2000
In office
13 June 1987 – 24 July 1989
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byPaul Channon
Succeeded byNicholas Ridley
Secretary of State for Employment
In office
2 September 1985 – 13 June 1987
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byTom King
Succeeded byNorman Fowler
Minister without Portfolio
In office
11 September 1984 – 2 September 1985
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byThe Lord Aberdare
Succeeded byJeremy Hanley
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
16 October 1984 – 27 April 2022[nb]
Life peerage
Personal details
Born(1932-02-27)27 February 1932
Finchley, London, England
Died9 December 2022(2022-12-09) (aged 90)
Political partyConservative
Alma materUniversity College London
n.b. ^ He retired under the House of Lords Reform Act 2014.[1]

David Ivor Young, Baron Young of Graffham, CH, PC, DL (27 February 1932 – 9 December 2022) was a British Conservative politician, cabinet minister and businessman.[2]

Early life

David Young was born into an orthodox Jewish family in London. His father was born in Yurevich, near Minsk, a village that is now in Belarus but was then largely populated by Lithuanian Jews, including Young's own family. The family fled an antisemitic pogrom to England when David's father was 5.[3]

In England, Young's father imported flour and later set up as a manufacturer of coats for children. Young went to Christ's College in Finchley and then University College London, to take a law degree as an evening student during his time as an articled clerk to become a solicitor, being admitted to the roll of solicitors in 1955.

Business career

Having qualified as a solicitor, Young practised for only a year, after which he joined Great Universal Stores as an executive, working for part of that time as an assistant to the chairman, Sir Isaac Wolfson.[4]

In 1961 he left GUS and set up his first business, Eldonwall Ltd. with funding from the Gestetner Family Settlements. During the sixties he built up a group of companies in industrial property, construction and plant hire, selling out in June 1970 to Town & City Properties PLC (T&CP), where he joined the board.

After the property crash of 1973–1974, Young assisted Jeffrey Sterling to reverse his company into T&CP to form a group that later became P&O.

In 1975, Young he left the board and entered into a joint venture with Manufacturers Hanover, and became chairman of Manufacturers Hanover Property Services, lending on real estate in the United Kingdom and overseas. He also had a number of other commercial interests. He sold out all his commercial interests in 1980 upon entering the Department of Industry. His younger brother, Stuart, served as chairman of the BBC.[5]

Margaret Thatcher

Young became involved in voluntary organisations as chairman of the vocational training charity British ORT; he was made a director of the CPS in 1979 shortly after the general election that brought Margaret Thatcher to power. On the first day of the new government, Keith Joseph, the Secretary of State for Industry, appointed him his advisor responsible for what later became known as privatisation.[6]

Because of his involvement with vocational training through ORT, he was picked by Norman Tebbit when he was Secretary of State for Employment to be the chairman of the Manpower Services Commission in 1981, the Government Agency dealing with unemployment and training matters. As such he became involved in government decisions and the Cabinet ministers who dealt with him regarded him very positively; he made his position as a 'dry' on economic policy.

He was created a life peer taking the title Baron Young of Graffham, of Graffham in the County of West Sussex on 10 October 1984.[7] One month later, on 11 September it was announced that Young was to enter the cabinet as Minister without Portfolio (the first person to hold the role since Lord Aberdare in 1974) to advise the government on unemployment issues. As Minister without Portfolio he was appointed to the Privy Council. On 2 September 1985 he became Secretary of State for Employment.

1987 election

Thatcher regarded Young as personally loyal to her and decided in March 1987 to put him into a central role in planning the 1987 election campaign, in effect to keep an eye on Norman Tebbit whom she suspected to be more interested in advancing his claims on the leadership. Young was in charge of organising Thatcher's tours and appearances on television. One week before polling day on 4 June 1987, Young and Tebbit had a major disagreement about the campaign strategy, a day nicknamed 'Wobbly Thursday'. According to The Independent, Young grabbed Tebbit by the lapels and said "Norman, listen to me, we are about to lose this fucking election".[8]

Trade and Industry

Following the election Tebbit announced his retirement from the government, and Young was promoted to Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. He served two years in the role and privatised the last of the state industries in the department. In May 1989 he told the prime minister he would like to return to private life. He resigned from the Cabinet in 1989 but received an appointment as deputy chairman of the Conservative Party to help Kenneth Baker reorganise Central Office.

Young stood down from his ministerial post on the resignation of Thatcher.

Later business career

Young then went back to business as a director of Salomon Inc. and executive chairman of Cable & Wireless. From 1993 he was president of the Institute of Directors, and from 1995 was chairman of Council of University College, London. He was the first president of Jewish Care (1990–1997).

Young retired from Cable & Wireless in 1995 and in 1996 set up his own company, Young Associates Ltd, with partners Simon Alberga and Yoav Kurtzbard, which actively invests in technology companies. Outside Young Associates he had a number of business interests. He was chairman and controlling shareholder of the Camcon Federation of companies, a Cambridge-based federation of companies with innovative technology in the oil and gas, auto and medical fields. He was controlling shareholder and on the board of TSSI Systems Ltd, a long-established company in security technology, and in both these companies he worked with Danny Chapchal. He was a substantial shareholder and chairman of Deep Tek Ltd, a company with developed technology to enable operations in deep and ultra-deep waters in the oil and gas sectors and in scientific exploration. He was a substantial shareholder and chairman of KashFlow Software Ltd, a leading provider of online accounting for SMEs.

In 1996, Young was involved in the privatisation of the Rostock Port, in Germany. Following several years of decline in port traffic, the Rostock city council agreed to sell the port to Kent Investments Ltd., a company controlled by Young,[9] in partnership with two Israeli businessmen, Menachem Atzmon and Ezra Harel.[10] It was later discovered that Young was only a frontman for the Israeli investors. The two were later under investigation by Israel Securities Authority, suspected of fraud and breach of trust. They acquired the port by obtaining a loan from Rogosin Industries, a public company they controlled, which raised the money by issuing bonds. Rogosin Industries then received an option to buy 25 percent of the port in exchange for forgiving the loan. Rogosin Industries eventually exercised this option, which left Harel and Atzmon owning 75 percent of Rostock Port using Rogosin's funds.[11] The case was investigated after Rogosin Industries defaulted on its bonds, as it run out of cash to pay its bondholders.[12] The company later went into liquidation.[13]

2010 Cameron–Clegg government

In June 2010, Young was chosen by PM David Cameron to advise on health and safety laws:[14]

To investigate and report back to the Prime Minister on the rise of the compensation culture over the last decade coupled with the current low standing that health and safety legislation now enjoys and to suggest solutions. Following the agreement of the report, to work with appropriate departments across government to bring the proposals into effect.[15] (See report 'Common Sense Common Safety' below.)

In July, he moved from the Cabinet Office to Number 10. In November 2010, Young was obliged to apologise for having told The Daily Telegraph that, "For the vast majority of people in the country today, they have never had it so good ever since this recession – this so-called recession – started ..."[16] He resigned,[17] but was subsequently reappointed.[18]

In October 2010, he released a review of workplace health and safety in the UK entitled 'Common Sense Common Safety',[19] which faced many of the issues and saying that businesses now operate their health and safety policies in a climate of fear because sensible health and safety rules that apply to hazardous occupations have been applied across all occupations, and the excessive "enthusiasm with which often unqualified health and safety consultants have tried to eliminate all risk rather than apply the test in the Act of a 'reasonably practicable' approach." Young said that part of the responsibility lay with the EU's 1989 Framework Directive, which made risk assessments compulsory across all occupations, whether hazardous or not. Within days of the release of the review, the flood of health and safety stories in the press abated.

Enterprise Advisor

In October 2010, he was appointed enterprise adviser to Cameron, and was asked to conduct a "brutal" review of the relationship of government to small firms. This resulted in a three-part review to the prime minister on enterprise and small business.

In May 2012, Young delivered the first part of this review. Entitled "Make Business Your Business", it was the first of its kind since the Bolton Report of 1971. His report highlighted the number of start-up businesses to indicate a growing culture of enterprise and entrepreneurship in the UK. The report introduced a new Government programme, Start Up Loans, providing loans and mentoring to get a business venture started. Start Up Loans had as of June 2016 provided over £129 million of loans to 25,000 people.[20]

In June 2013, Young delivered a report entitled "Growing Your Business",[21] which looked at how new and developing small firms could grow and expand into new markets. Following this, the government introduced reforms of public procurement with the aim of making it easier for small suppliers to win public sector contracts; a new "Small Business Charter", which aimed to extend the reach of university business schools into their local small business communities, and which he remained Patron of; and a "Growth Voucher programme" to assist companies "find and pay for professional strategic advice".[22]

In June 2014, Young reviewed the relevance of enterprise in education in his report "Enterprise for All".[23] In December 2014 the Government accepted Young's recommendations in this report. These included the introduction of Enterprise Advisers, intended as a dedicated resource available to Head Teachers to support them in developing an appropriate careers and enterprise offer for their students, and an 'Enterprise Passport' through which young people would record their enterprise and extracurricular activities alongside their academic qualifications to future employers.

Young was appointed Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) in the 2015 New Year Honours.[24][25]

Charity interests

Young had a number of pro bono or charitable interests including the presidency of Chai Cancer Care and the Coram Trust, chairman of the Chichester Festival Theatre and of the Jewish Museum London, and trustee of the Co-Existence Trust and the MBI Al Jaber Foundation.[26][27]

In December 2010, he became a patron of Lifelites, a charity providing technology for children in hospices.


Young's political autobiography, The Enterprise Years, was published in 1990.

He wrote occasional opinion pieces. In one, he likened Boris Johnson to Harold Macmillan, while touting Enterprise Zones and suggesting the reintroduction of Thatcher's "more successful programmes like the Enterprise Allowance Scheme of old that created so many new businesses at the time."[28]

Personal life

Young was married to Lita (née Shaw), and they had two daughters, Karen and Judith. He died on 9 December 2022,[29] at the age of 90.[30]

Coat of arms

Coat of arms of David Young, Baron Young of Graffham
Within a circlet of roses Argent barbed and seeded Proper placed alternatively with bluebell flowers also Proper a lion's head Azure amid a show of three oak trees Proper fruited Gold
Argent eight barrulets Azure overall a sword in bend proper hilt pommel and quillions Or between two roundels gyronny enarched also Gold and Azure each within an annulet Gold
On either side in front of the exterior rear claws of a lion rampant reguardant Or a long-haired dachshund each respectant Proper
Soluvere Est Servire[31]


  1. ^ "Parliamentary career for Lord Young of Graffham". MPs and Lords. UK Parliament. Retrieved 12 December 2022.
  2. ^ "Lord Young interview: 'We need to get young children believing in themselves'". The Independent.
  3. ^ "Conversation with friends about their lives: Lord Young, from shtetl to Downing St in one generation. Tom Gross interviews Lord Young about his family, upbringing and career (20 May, 2020". 20 May 2020. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  4. ^ "Lord Young of Graffham, entrepreneur turned cabinet minister who helped to push through the reforms of the Thatcher era". The Daily Telegraph. 10 December 2022. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  5. ^ "Lord Young of Graffham, entrepreneur turned cabinet minister who helped to push through the reforms of the Thatcher era". The Daily Telegraph. 10 December 2022. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  6. ^ "Conversations with friends about their lives: Lord Young, from shtetl to Downing St in one generation. Tom Gross interviews Lord Young about his family, upbringing and career (20 May, 2020". 20 May 2020. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  7. ^ "No. 49896". The London Gazette. 15 October 1984. p. 13895.
  8. ^ "Tory lead shrinks: Jitters... or something more?". The Independent. 7 February 2010. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  9. ^ "TRANSPORTATION A new shipping service for the Clyde in August". The Herald. 21 June 1996.
  11. ^ Shtarkman, Rotem; Bergerfreund, Assaf (23 May 2003). "Rogosin's Ex-owner, Father Held on Fraud Suspicions". Haaretz.
  12. ^ "Angry bond-holders vow to extract money from Rogosin – Company defaulted on its first debt payment yesterday". TheMarker. 2 July 2002.
  13. ^ Friedman, Yaron; Danon, Yitzhak (6 October 2002). "No alternative to liquidation, Rogosin tells court". Globes. Retrieved 6 October 2002.
  14. ^ "Health and safety laws to be reviewed by government". BBC News. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  15. ^ "Rebalancing act?". IOSH. Archived from the original on 11 September 2010. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
  16. ^ "Lord Young apology over 'never had it so good' remarks". BBC News. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  17. ^ Gary O'Donoghue. "Cameron adviser quits over 'never had it so good' claim". BBC News. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  18. ^ Daniel Boffey. "Recession is a good time to boost profits, says Cameron aide | Business". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  19. ^ "Common Sense Common Safety". Archived from the original on 25 June 2016. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  20. ^ "Start Up Loans Small businesses can borrow up to £25000 in government funding". Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  21. ^ "Growing your business: A report on growing micro businesses" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 August 2013. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  22. ^ "Growth Vouchers". Archived from the original on 8 February 2015. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  23. ^ "Enterprise for all: The relevance of enterprise in education" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 February 2015. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  24. ^ "No. 61092". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2014. p. N28.
  25. ^ "New Years Honours 2015 Queen's List" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 January 2015. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  26. ^ "The Jewish Museum pays tribute to Lord David Young of Graffham". 12 December 2022.
  27. ^ "The Chichester Festival Theatre marks the death of Lord Young of Graffham". 12 December 2022.
  28. ^ Young, David (22 August 2021). "Boris Johnson must not turn into the new Macmillan". The Telegraph.
  29. ^ "Lord Young of Graffham obituary". The Guardian. 11 December 2022. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  30. ^ Christopher Hope (9 December 2022). "Thatcher-era cabinet minister Lord Young dies aged 90". The Telegraph. Retrieved 9 December 2022.
  31. ^ Debrett's Peerage & Baronetage. 2000.
Political offices Preceded byThe Lord Aberdare Minister without Portfolio 1984–1985 Succeeded byJeremy Hanley Preceded byTom King Secretary of State for Employment 1985–1987 Succeeded byNorman Fowler Preceded byPaul Channon Secretary of State for Trade and Industry 1987–1989 Succeeded byNicholas Ridley