Sir George Young:
On - And Off - The Front Bench


Visit these pages for different aspects of my life, family and career:

Early Years Into PoliticsInto Parliament:
 'The Bicycling Baronet'
On (and off) The Front BenchMember for North West HampshireActive BackbencherAurelia
(Lady Young)
The Young FamilySummary Profile



Two years after becoming an MP, George joined Margaret Thatcher's Front Bench team, becoming an Opposition Whip between 1976 and 1979. He was in the Whips Office the night the Callaghan Government lost a Vote of Confidence by just one vote, precipitating the 1979 General Election.

George founded the Parliamentary Bicycle Pool, and captained the House of Commons squash team for five years. He was undefeated by any other MP until 1984, when he lost - twice in a day - to Ron Davies MP and his wife Christine, a Welsh international squash player.

  George with Margaret Thatcher in the early days
When the Conservatives won the 1979 General Election, Margaret Thatcher appointed George as a Junior Health Minister. In that role he adopted an aggressive approach to the tobacco industry in a campaign to reduce the number of premature deaths from smoking -see Peter Taylor's book The Smoke Ring: Tobacco, Money and International Politics, Bodley Head.
In 1981, he was moved to Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of the Environment, working with Michael Heseltine on inner city policy following the riots in Brixton and Toxteth. He worked on New Towns, urban regeneration and local government reform until 1986, when Margaret Thatcher removed him from her Government. (She had tried earlier, but he had been protected by his Secretaries of State!)

Poll tax rebel

On the backbenches from 1986 to 1990, Sir George led the rebellion within the Conservative Party against the Poll Tax. The Spectator recognised his campaign by nominating him Backbencher of the Year in 1988. Shortly before she fell in 1990 and when she was trying to re-unite the Party, Margaret Thatcher brought Sir George back into her Government as a Whip (Comptroller of the Household)

(Click here or in the image for a larger
version of the Spectator page)



When John Major replaced Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister in November 1990, he promoted Sir George to Minister for Housing and Planning. In this role George pioneered the Rough Sleepers Initiative - which reduced the numbers sleeping rough in London by two-thirds - and the programme of large scale voluntary transfers of housing stock from local authorities to Housing Associations. He also piloted the Leasehold Reform Bill through the House of Commons as well as the 1991 Planning Bill.

Front cover of
Shelter's magazine "Roof", March-April 1991
Oh, those carefree days!

Treasury & Transport

George was then further promoted to Financial Secretary to HM Treasury (July 1994 to July 1995), working with the then Chancellor, Kenneth Clarke, and helping to introduce income tax self-assessment. He was appointed a Privy Counsellor in the June 1993 Birthday Honours.

In July 1995 George was appointed Secretary of State for Transport, a post he held until 1997. He completed the privatisation of the railways, built the Newbury Bypass and developed a more sustainable transport policy, making better use of the roads we already have.


 William Hague's Shadow Cabinet  

Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition

Following the Conservative defeat in the 1997 General Election, George became Defence Spokesman in William Hague's Shadow Cabinet. In June 1998 he became Shadow Leader of the House of Commons. In the June 1999 reshuffle, George was given additional responsibilities as Spokesman on Constitutional Affairs. He was a member of the Modernisation Select Committee and of the House of Commons Commission from 1998 to 2000.

William Hague's Shadow Cabinet

Having resigned his Shadow Cabinet post in September 2000 to stand as Speaker, George became an active backbencher, as well as Chairman of Standards and Privileges, a post to which he was re-elected following the 2005 General Election.  He is seen here speaking in the House during the key debate on whether to go to war with Iraq. In September 2009 Sir George joined David Cameron's Shadow Cabinet, as Shadow Leader of the House. Following the general election of May 2010, Sir George became Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal in the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat government. In the September 2012 reshuffle, Sir George returned to the backbenches, from whence he was recalled in October to succeed Andrew Mitchell as Chief Whip. In the reshuffle of the Government in July 2014, Sir George returned to the backbenches at his own request.

Vist the Parliamentary News page for reports on Sir George's recent Parliamentary speeches and activities. 




Other Biographical Pages:


Early Years  -  Into Politics  -  Into Parliament - 'The Bicycling Baronet'
Active Backbencher  -  Member for North West Hampshire
Aurelia (Lady Young)  -  The Young Family

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Copyright Sir George Young Bt. 2015