The Lord Rippon of Hexham
Rippon in 1970
Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament
In office
17 April 1977 – 7 July 1979
Preceded bySir Peter Kirk
Succeeded byJames Scott-Hopkins
Shadow Foreign Secretary
In office
4 March 1974 – 11 February 1975
LeaderTed Heath
Preceded byJim Callaghan
Succeeded byReginald Maudling
Secretary of State for the Environment
In office
5 November 1972 – 4 March 1974
Prime MinisterTed Heath
Preceded byPeter Walker
Succeeded byTony Crosland
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
25 July 1970 – 5 November 1972
Prime MinisterTed Heath
Preceded byAnthony Barber
Succeeded byJohn Davies
Minister of Technology
In office
20 June 1970 – 25 July 1970
Prime MinisterTed Heath
Preceded byTony Benn
Succeeded byJohn Davies
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
In office
1969 – 20 June 1970
LeaderTed Heath
Preceded byReginald Maudling
Succeeded byGeorge Thomson
Member of Parliament
for Hexham
In office
31 March 1966 – 18 May 1987
Preceded byRupert Speir
Succeeded byAlan Amos
Member of Parliament
for Norwich South
In office
26 May 1955 – 25 September 1964
Preceded byHenry Strauss
Succeeded byChristopher Norwood
Personal details
Born(1924-05-28)28 May 1924
Penn, Buckinghamshire, England
Died28 January 1997(1997-01-28) (aged 72)
Broomfield, Somerset, England
Political partyConservative
Alma materBrasenose College, Oxford

Aubrey Geoffrey Frederick Rippon, Baron Rippon of Hexham, PC, QC (28 May 1924 – 28 January 1997) was a British Conservative Party politician. He is most known for drafting the European Communities Act 1972 which took the United Kingdom into the European Communities on 1 January 1973. He was Chairman of the European-Atlantic Group.

Early life

Born in Penn, Buckinghamshire, the son of the Somerset cricketer Sydney Rippon, Geoffrey Rippon was educated at King's College, Taunton, and Brasenose College, Oxford, where he was president of the University Conservative Association. He was called to the Bar in 1948 and was Mayor of Surbiton 1951–52 and a member of the London County Council from 1952, representing Chelsea. From 1958, he was the leader of the Conservative Party group on the council.[1]

Parliamentary career

After unsuccessfully contesting the seat of Shoreditch and Finsbury in both 1950 and 1951, he became MP for Norwich South in 1955.

As Minister for Public Building and Works in 1962, Rippon controversially sought to demolish and redevelop the Italianate Foreign and Commonwealth Office main building designed in the 1860s by Sir George Gilbert Scott.[2][3] After a campaign led by The Victorian Society and a public outcry the decision was overturned and the building was subsequently granted Grade I listed building status.

In 1964 Rippon was defeated, but moved to the constituency of Hexham in Northumberland at the 1966 general election and remained MP there until retiring in 1987. Among his posts in the Shadow Cabinet was that of Shadow Defence Secretary from 1969 to 1970.

In 1970 he became Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster under Edward Heath, and being in favour of the Common Market was given the responsibility of negotiating Britain's entry into it. In 1972 he moved to become Secretary of State for the Environment. During his tenure the Department of the Environment was housed on Marsham Street in unattractive tower blocks nicknamed 'the three ugly sisters'. Rippon is supposed to have commented to his civil servants that the view from the top floor was the best in London, as one could not see the towers themselves.[citation needed]

While Secretary of State for the Environment he introduced the Water Act 1973, which amalgamated over 1500 separate private, and local authority water provision, sewage, water treatment, and regulatory entities into 10 Regional Water Authorities, organised on a natural Hydrological basis.

He was at one time a prominent member of the Conservative Monday Club, for whom he authored a booklet entitled Right Angle, and was guest-of-honour at their Annual Dinner in 1970. The Club was, however, divided on the EEC (European Community) issue, and at their conference in October 1971 members moved and carried a resolution opposing Britain's entry.

From 1979 to 1982, Rippon was President of the European Documentation and Information Centre (CEDI).

He was created a life peer on 5 October 1987 taking the title Baron Rippon of Hexham, of Hesleyside in the County of Northumberland.[4]


Coat of arms of Geoffrey Rippon
A Stag's Head erased and per fess wavy Gules and Argent in the argent two bars wavy Azure attired Gules each attire charged with two Bars Gold
Barry wavy of fourteen Argent and Azure a Cross Patonce between in dexter chief and in sinister base a Hunting Horn stringed Sable
Dexter: on a Mount of Rocky Moorland proper a Bull guardant Gules unguled Or gorged with an Ancient Crown also Or the Horns Gules each charged with two Bars Gold; Sinister: on a like Mount proper a Stag guardant Gules unguled Or gorged with an Ancient Crown also Or attired Gules each attire charged with two Bars Gold
Frangas Non Flecta [5]


  1. ^ "New LCC begins work". The Times. 23 April 1958.
  2. ^ Rippon, Geoffrey (13 November 1963). "Written Answers (Commons)". Hansard. 684 c3W. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  3. ^ Jenkins, Simon (8 July 2011). "Sir George Gilbert Scott, the unsung hero of British architecture". Guardian.
  4. ^ "No. 51083". The London Gazette. 8 October 1987. p. 12479.
  5. ^ "Life Peerages - R". Cracroft's Peerage.
Parliament of the United Kingdom Preceded byHenry Strauss Member of Parliamentfor Norwich South 19551964 Succeeded byChristopher Norwood Preceded byRupert Speir Member of Parliamentfor Hexham 19661987 Succeeded byAlan Amos Political offices Preceded byReginald Maudling Shadow Secretary of State for Defence 1969–1970 Succeeded byGeorge Thomson Preceded byAnthony Barber Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 1970–1972 Succeeded byJohn Davies Preceded byPeter Walker Secretary of State for the Environment 1972–1974 Succeeded byTony Crosland Preceded byJames Callaghan Shadow Foreign Secretary 1974–1975 Succeeded byReginald Maudling Party political offices Preceded byNorris Kenyon Leader of the Conservative Party on the London County Council 1958–1961 Succeeded byPercy Rugg Preceded bySir Peter Kirk Leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament 1977–1979 Succeeded byJames Scott-Hopkins