Friday, March 14, 2014

Rt Hon Tony Benn (2nd Viscount Stansgate disclaimed) 1925-2014

_.The Rt Hon Anthony Neil Wedgwood Benn, former Lab MP and stalwart of the Left, who died 14 March, 2014, aged 88, was formerly the 2nd Viscount Stansgate (Peerage of the UK, cr 1942), but disclaimed the peerage for life in 1963.

He was born 3 Apr, 1925, second son of William Wedgwood Benn (1877-1960), Liberal MP and Secretary of State for India, by his wife the former Margaret Eadie Holmes (who died in 1991), dau of Daniel Turner Holmes, MP.

William Wedgwood Benn was created Viscount Stansgate in 1942, and in 1944 his elder son, Ft-Lt Michael Wedgwood Benn, DFC, was killed in action.

Anthony Wedgwood Benn was Labour MP for Bristol South East, 1950-60, & lost his seat in the Commons on succeeding to his father's peerage, 17 Nov, 1960.

Tony Benn petitioned to give up his viscountcy & remain in the House of Commons but failed. However, his campaigning resulted in the 1963 Peerage Act which enabled peers to disclaim their titles for life.

Tony Benn disclaimed his peerage for life, 31 July, 1963, and was returned to his seat in at Bristol SE, in 1963 and held that constituency for 20 years to 1983. He was then Lab MP for Chesterfield from 1984 to 2001.

Benn was Postmaster-General in Harold Wilson's administration 1964-68, Minister of Technology, 1966-70, Minister of Power 1969-70, Chairman of the Labour Party 1970-72, Secretary of State for Industry and Minister for Posts and Telecommunications, 1974-75, and Secretary of State for Energy 1975-79.

He was sworn of the Privy Council in 1964.

Benn married 17 June, 1949, Caroline Middleton De Camp (who d. 22 Nov, 2000), dau of James Milton De Camp, of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, by who he had issue, three sons, Stephen, Hilary and Joshua, and one daughter, Melissa.

Under the terms of the 1963 Peerage Act the eldest son, Stephen, who was born 21 Aug, 1951, now succeeds as 3rd Viscount Stansgate.

The funeral is ti take place at St Margaret's Church, Westminster, Thursday 17 March.


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