The Lord Merlyn-Rees
|Shadow Secretary of State for Energy|
4 November 1980 – 24 November 1982
|Preceded by||David Owen|
|Succeeded by||John Smith|
|Shadow Home Secretary|
4 May 1979 – 4 November 1980
|Preceded by||William Whitelaw|
|Succeeded by||Roy Hattersley|
10 September 1976 – 4 May 1979
|Prime Minister||James Callaghan|
|Preceded by||Roy Jenkins|
|Succeeded by||William Whitelaw|
|Secretary of State for Northern Ireland|
5 March 1974 – 10 September 1976
|Preceded by||Francis Pym|
|Succeeded by||Roy Mason|
|Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland|
24 March 1972 – 4 March 1974
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Francis Pym|
|Member of Parliament|
for Morley and Leeds South
(Leeds South 1963–1983)
20 June 1963 – 16 March 1992
|Preceded by||Hugh Gaitskell|
|Succeeded by||John Gunnell|
18 December 1920
|Died||5 January 2006 (aged 85)|
Merlyn Merlyn-Rees, Baron Merlyn-Rees,(né Merlyn Rees; 18 December 1920 – 5 January 2006) was a British Labour Party politician and Member of Parliament from 1963 until 1992. He served as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1974–1976) and Home Secretary (1976–1979).
Rees was born in Cilfynydd, near Pontypridd, Glamorgan, the son of Levi Rees, a war veteran who moved from Wales to England to find work. He was educated at Harrow Weald Grammar School, Harrow, England and Goldsmiths College, London where he was president of the students' union from 1939 to 1941. In 1941 he joined the RAF, becoming a squadron leader and earning the nickname "Dagwood". He served in Italy as operations and intelligence officer to No 324 Squadron under Group Captain WGG Duncan-Smith (father of the future Tory leader). One of Rees's Spitfire pilots in Italy, Frank Cooper, became his Permanent Secretary at the Northern Ireland Office. He attended the London School of Economics where he received BSc(Econ) and MSc(Econ). He was appointed schoolmaster at his old school in Harrow in 1949, teaching economics and history. He taught for eleven years, during which time he was three times an unsuccessful parliamentary candidate for Harrow East, in 1955, 1959, and in a 1959 by-election. He was a member of the Institute of Education at the University of London from 1959 to 1962.
At a by-election in 1963, he stood successfully as the Labour candidate for Leeds South, succeeding Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell, who had died in office. He held the seat until he stepped down from the House of Commons at the 1992 general election. The constituency was renamed as Morley and Leeds South in 1983. He was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from March 1974 until September 1976, when he was appointed Home Secretary. For two years before the Labour government came to power in 1974 he had been Labour Party spokesman on Northern Ireland. Rees wrote of his views on Northern Ireland in: Northern Ireland: a Personal Perspective. One month after his appointment as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Rees lifted the proscription against the illegal loyalist paramilitary organisation, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in an attempt to bring them into the democratic process, however, the organisation was implicated in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings on 17 May 1974 and the group was once more banned by the British Government on 3 October 1975. Rees’ decision to permit the Sunningdale power sharing arrangements to collapse in Northern Ireland was described as ‘supine’ by former SDLP leader, Seamus Mallon.
When he retired from the House of Commons in 1992, he was created a life peer as Baron Merlyn-Rees, of Morley and South Leeds in the County of West Yorkshire and of Cilfynydd in the County of Mid Glamorgan and entered the House of Lords, having changed his name, on 23 June 1992, by deed poll to Merlyn Merlyn-Rees to allow his title to be Merlyn-Rees rather than Rees.
He was president of the Video Standards Council from 1990 and was the first Chancellor of the University of Glamorgan, a position he held from 1994 to 2002.
He suffered injuries in a number of falls, and failing to recover from these, fell into a coma, dying at the age of 85. He was survived by his wife Colleen and three sons.
Merlyn Rees Avenue in Morley, West Yorkshire is named after Rees. Merlyn Rees Community High School in Belle Isle, Leeds was named after Rees until its merger with Mathew Murray Comprehensive School in 2006 when it was renamed South Leeds High School.