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The Lord Walker of Worcester
Peter Walker, Baron Walker of Worcester.jpg
Secretary of State for Wales
In office
13 June 1987 – 4 May 1990
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byNicholas Edwards
Succeeded byDavid Hunt
Secretary of State for Energy
In office
11 June 1983 – 13 June 1987
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byNigel Lawson
Succeeded byCecil Parkinson
Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
In office
4 May 1979 – 11 June 1983
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byJohn Silkin
Succeeded byMichael Jopling
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
In office
29 October 1974 – 18 February 1975
Prime MinisterEdward Heath
Preceded byIan Gilmour
Succeeded byGeorge Younger
President of the Board of Trade
In office
5 November 1972 – 4 March 1974
Prime MinisterEdward Heath
Preceded byJohn Davies
Succeeded byTony Benn
Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
In office
5 November 1972 – 4 March 1974
Prime MinisterEdward Heath
Preceded byJohn Davies
Succeeded by
Secretary of State for the Environment
In office
15 October 1970 – 5 November 1972
Prime MinisterEdward Heath
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byGeoffrey Rippon
Minister of State for Housing and Local Government
In office
19 June 1970 – 15 October 1970
Prime MinisterEdward Heath
Preceded byTony Crosland (Secretary of State for Local Government and Regional Planning)
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
8 July 1992 – 23 June 2010
Life peerage
Member of Parliament
for Worcester
In office
16 March 1961 – 9 April 1992
Preceded byGeorge Ward
Succeeded byPeter Luff
Personal details
Born
Peter Edward Walker

(1932-03-25)25 March 1932
Brentford, England
Died23 June 2010(2010-06-23) (aged 78)
Worcester, England
NationalityBritish
Political partyConservative
Children5 (including Robin)
EducationLatymer Upper School

Peter Edward Walker, Baron Walker of Worcester, MBE, PC (25 March 1932 – 23 June 2010) was a British Conservative politician who served in Cabinet under Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher. He was Member of Parliament (MP) for Worcester from 1961 to 1992 and was made a life peer in 1992.

Walker became the youngest National Chairman of the Young Conservatives in 1958.[1] He was a founder of the Tory Reform Group, and served as Chairman of the Carlton Club.

Early life and education

Born in Middlesex, younger son of Sydney Walker, a capstan operator at HMV's factory at Hayes, and his wife Rose (née Dean),[2][3][4] Walker was educated at Latymer Upper School in London. He did not go to college or university.

Parliamentary career

Walker rose through the ranks of the Conservative Party's youth wing, the Young Conservatives. He was a branch chairman at the age of 14, and later National Chairman. He fought the Parliamentary seat of Dartford in the general elections of 1955 and 1959, being beaten each time by Labour's Sydney Irving.

Walker was appointed to the Order of the British Empire as a Member (MBE) in the 1960 Birthday Honours for political services.[5] Within four years of his election to Parliament in a by-election in 1961, he had entered the Shadow Cabinet. He later served under Prime Minister Edward Heath as Minister of Housing and Local Government (1970), Secretary of State for the Environment (1970–72), the first person in the world to hold such a position, and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1972–74). From late 1974 to February 1975, Walker served as Shadow Defence Secretary. When Margaret Thatcher became the party leader, Walker did not serve in her Shadow Cabinet. But when the party came to power in 1979, he returned to the Cabinet as Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in 1979. He later served as Secretary of State for Energy (1983–87). Whilst at the Department for Energy he played an important role in the Government's successful opposition to the 1984–85 miners' strike.

Walker then served as Secretary of State for Wales between 1987 and 1990. Although the role of Welsh Secretary was ostensibly one of the most junior jobs in the Cabinet, Walker claimed it gave him more influence as it gave access to key economic committees. He stood down from the Cabinet shortly before Thatcher herself was ousted in 1990. Though he had previously been a close ally of Heath's and was generally considered to be on the left of the party, he was nevertheless one of the longest-serving Cabinet members in Thatcher's government. In October 1985, however, he had hit out at Thatcher's reluctance to inject money into the economy in order to ease mass unemployment, speaking of his fears that she could lose the next general election if unemployment did not fall. However, the Tories were re-elected in 1987, by which time unemployment was falling.[6]

As noted above, Walker's 1970 appointment as Secretary of State for the Environment was notable in that he became the world's first Environment Minister, and was thus a source of considerable interest at the 1972 Stockholm Conference. The creation of the Department of the Environment came in response to the growing environmental concerns of the 1960s (not least the Torrey Canyon oil spill of 1967), and one of Walker's immediate concerns was to clean up the nation's waterways. The measures put in place have had substantial results for river life. For instance, the Thames was declared biologically dead in 1957 but today many species of fish thrive in the river, including wild salmon and trout.[7]

Walker was a determined supporter of the hospice movement, becoming a patron of St Richard's Hospice in Worcester when it was founded in 1984. He campaigned determinedly for greater NHS support for St Richard's and the wider hospice movement, which is staffed largely by dedicated volunteers. During a House of Lords debate in 2000, Lord Walker stated: "Anyone who visits hospices and meets the volunteers—the people running them and guiding them—will recognise their unique spiritual and compassionate contribution to the health service."[8]

Upon his retirement from Parliament, on 8 July 1992, he was appointed a life peer as Baron Walker of Worcester, of Abbots Morton in the County of Hereford and Worcester.[9]

Business career

During the 1960s he was the junior partner in Slater Walker, an asset stripping vehicle used by Jim Slater to generate immense paper profits until 1973. An ill-timed attempt to take over Hill Samuel resulted in the loss of city confidence in Slater Walker and Jim Slater became for a time a "minus millionaire". Peter Walker's political career survived and after retirement from politics he returned to the City as Chairman of Kleinwort Benson.[10]

Other business positions Walker held included: Chairman of Allianz Insurance plc, Vice Chairman of Dresdner Kleinwort and non-executive director of ITM Power plc.

Personal life and death

Walker and his wife had five children. His son Robin Walker was elected MP for the Worcester constituency in the 2010 general election.[11]

He died at St Richard's Hospice, Worcester, on 23 June 2010, after suffering from cancer.[11][12]

Coat of arms

Coat of arms of Peter Walker, Baron Walker of Worcester
Coronet of a British Baron.svg
Walker of Worcester Escutcheon.png
Coronet
A Coronet of a Baron
Crest
Growing from a Grassy Mound proper over which curls a Footpath a Cedar Tree all proper irradiated Or
Escutcheon
Per pale Sable and Or semy of Portcullises and Three Turreted Towers all counterchanged
Supporters
Dexter: a Dragon Gules; Sinister: a Sea-Lion proper the Head and Mane Or supporting a Trident also proper, the whole upon a Compartment per bend dexter a Grassy Mound growing therefrom Red and Yellow Cowslips all proper sinister Water barry wavy Azure and Argent over all in bend a Footpath proper
Motto
Diligentia Cum Humanitate (Diligence with humanity)

References

  1. ^ "Lord Walker: Durable left-of-centre Conservative politician who served in government under Heath and Thatcher". The Independent. 23 June 2010. Archived from the original on 26 May 2022. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  2. ^ "Lord Walker of Worcester".
  3. ^ Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, 107th edition, vol. 3, ed. Charles Mosley, Burke's Peerage Ltd, 2003, p. 4047
  4. ^ "Lord Walker: Durable left-of-centre Conservative politician who served". The Independent. 23 October 2011. Archived from the original on 26 May 2022. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  5. ^ "No. 42051". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 June 1960. p. 3992.
  6. ^ "Thatcher Defends Jobs Record Can't Buy Away Unemployment, She Tells Party". Chicago Tribune. 12 October 1985.
  7. ^ Ellen Widdup (14 July 2009). "Teeming with fish, Thames is cleanest for two centuries". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 13 December 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2010.
  8. ^ Hansard (1 March 2000). "Hospice Movement (Hansard, 1 March 2000)". Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  9. ^ "No. 52988". The London Gazette. 13 July 1992. p. 11759.
  10. ^ "Obituary: Lord Walker of Worcester". The Telegraph. 23 June 2020.
  11. ^ a b "Peter Walker dies aged 78". Worcester News. 23 June 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2010.
  12. ^ Ex Tory minister Lord Walker dies BBC News 23 June 2010
Parliament of the United Kingdom Preceded byGeorge Ward Member of Parliamentfor Worcester 19611992 Succeeded byPeter Luff Political offices Preceded byTony Croslandas Secretary of State for Local Government and Regional Planning Minister of State for Housing and Local Government 1970 Position abolished New office Secretary of State for the Environment 1970–1972 Succeeded byGeoffrey Rippon Preceded byJohn Davies President of the Board of Trade 1972–1974 Succeeded byTony Benn Preceded byJohn Davies Secretary of State for Trade and Industry 1972–1974 Succeeded byPeter Shoreas Secretary of State for Trade Succeeded byTony Bennas Secretary of State for Industry Preceded byIan Gilmour Shadow Secretary of State for Defence 1974–1975 Succeeded byGeorge Younger Preceded byJohn Silkin Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food 1979–1983 Succeeded byMichael Jopling Preceded byNigel Lawson Secretary of State for Energy 1983–1987 Succeeded byCecil Parkinson Preceded byNicholas Edwards Secretary of State for Wales 1987–1990 Succeeded byDavid Hunt