The Baroness Young
Janet Young, Baroness Young.jpg
Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
In office
13 June 1983 – 13 June 1987
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byThe Lord Belstead
Succeeded byThe Lord Glenarthur
Leader of the House of Lords
In office
14 September 1981 – 11 June 1983
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byThe Lord Soames
Succeeded byThe Viscount Whitelaw
Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal
In office
7 April 1982 – 11 June 1983
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byHumphrey Atkins
Succeeded byJohn Biffen
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
14 September 1981 – 7 April 1982
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byFrancis Pym
Succeeded byCecil Parkinson
Minister of State for Education and Science
In office
7 May 1979 – 14 September 1981
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byGordon Oakes
Succeeded byPaul Channon
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment
In office
5 June 1973 – 4 March 1974
Prime MinisterEdward Heath
Preceded byThe Lord Sandford
Succeeded byGerald Kaufman
Government Whip
In office
21 April 1972 – 5 June 1973
Prime MinisterEdward Heath
Preceded by New appointment
Succeeded byThe Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
24 May 1971 – 6 September 2002
Life Peerage
Personal details
Born(1926-10-23)23 October 1926
Died6 September 2002(2002-09-06) (aged 75)
Political partyConservative
Alma materYale University
St Anne's College, Oxford

Janet Mary Young, Baroness Young, PC, DL (née Baker, 23 October 1926 – 6 September 2002) was a British Conservative Party politician. She served as the first ever female Leader of the House of Lords from 1981 to 1983, first as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and from 1982 as Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal. She was the only woman ever appointed to the Cabinet by Margaret Thatcher.

Early life

Born in 1926, she went to the mainly boys Dragon School in Oxford where she played rugby and cricket, and then to Headington School. During World War II she studied at Yale, and then took an MA in philosophy, politics and economics at St Anne's College, Oxford. She married the academic chemist Geoffrey Tyndale Young (1915–2014), and had three daughters.[1]

Political career

She became a councillor for Oxford City Council in 1957 and was leader by 1967. Not long after, she was raised to the peerage on the advice of Edward Heath. Her life peerage was announced on 5 April 1971[2] and was raised to the peerage on 24 May 1971 as Baroness Young, of Farnworth in the County Palatine of Lancaster.[3][4] She became a government whip shortly after appointment and was subsequently promoted to minister of state in the Department for Education.[5] She joined the Cabinet on 15 September 1981, when she was appointed to be the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.[6] On 13 April 1982, she was appointed to be the Leader of the House of Lords and the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal,[7] posts which she kept for only 14 months, until 11 June 1983.[8] Thatcher thought that Young "was perhaps too consistent an advocate of caution on all occasions" and was not an effective leader in the Lords.[5] However, Young's colleagues disagreed, describing her as "bloody tough" and a "competent minister".[5]

She sat on the boards of large corporations such as NatWest and Marks & Spencer. In later life she was known for her staunch opposition to gay rights; as an obituary put it: "The wellspring of her moral activism was her belief in Christian marriage and family life, her concern for children's welfare and her belief that as a Conservative she should stand up against what she saw as the slide towards an entirely secular society."[9] She worked to try to stop legislation going through that would allow unmarried couples (including gay men and women) to adopt children,[9] and also led campaigns in the House of Lords to prevent equalisation of the age of consent for homosexual men with that of heterosexuals,[10] and also fought the repeal of Section 28.[9] She was ultimately defeated on all counts. Although she managed to delay the repeal of Section 28 in England and Wales in 2000, after her death Section 28 was finally removed from the statute book in 2003.


She died following a long battle with cancer on 6 September 2002, at the age of 75.[11]

Following her death, gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell declared that she had "poisoned society with prejudice and intolerance" and that "future historians will rank her alongside the defenders of apartheid. She supported homophobic discrimination to the last."[11]


  1. ^ "Baroness Young of Farnworth: Obituary". BBC News Online. 6 September 2002. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  2. ^ "No. 45336". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 April 1971. p. 3333.
  3. ^ "No. 45377". The London Gazette. 25 May 1971. p. 5449.
  4. ^ "No. 18993". The Edinburgh Gazette. 25 May 1971. p. 387.
  5. ^ a b c Reeves, Rachel (7 March 2019). Women of Westminster: the MPs who changed politics. London. ISBN 978-1-78831-677-4. OCLC 1084655208.
  6. ^ "No. 48741". The London Gazette. 18 September 1981. p. 11857.
  7. ^ "No. 48952". The London Gazette. 16 April 1982. p. 5169.
  8. ^ "No. 49398". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 June 1983. p. 8479.
  9. ^ a b c Langdon, Julia (6 September 2002). "Lady Young of Farnworth". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  10. ^ "Profile: Baroness Young". BBC News Online. 29 November 2000. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  11. ^ a b Russell, Ben (7 September 2002). "Baroness Young, enemy of gay rights, dies at 75". The Independent. Archived from the original on 15 December 2020. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
Political offices Preceded byChristopher Soames Leader of the House of Lords 1981–1983 Succeeded byThe Viscount Whitelaw Preceded byFrancis Pym Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 1981–1982 Succeeded byCecil Parkinson Preceded byHumphrey Atkins Lord Privy Seal 1982–1983 Succeeded byJohn Biffen Party political offices Preceded byThe Lord Soames Leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Lords 1981–1983 Succeeded byThe Viscount Whitelaw