Bernard Braine

Bernard Richard Braine, Baron Braine of Wheatley, PC (24 June 1914 – 5 January 2000)[2] was a Conservative Party politician in the United Kingdom. He was a Member of Parliament (MP) for over forty years, representing constituencies in Essex.

The Lord Braine of Wheatley

Braine in Hanover, September 1983
Father of the House of Commons
In office
18 May 1987  9 April 1992
Preceded byJames Callaghan
Succeeded byEdward Heath
Shadow Minister for Overseas Development
In office
4 October 1967  15 June 1970
LeaderEdward Heath
Preceded byRichard Wood
Succeeded byJudith Hart
Member of Parliament
for Castle Point
South East Essex (1955–1983)
In office
26 May 1955  9 April 1992
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byBob Spink
Member of Parliament
for Billericay
In office
23 February 1950  26 May 1955
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byRichard Body
Personal details
Born24 June 1914
Ealing, London[1]
Died5 January 2000 (aged 85)
Southend, Essex[1]
Political partyConservative
Military service
UnitNorth Staffordshire Regiment

Early life

He was educated at Hendon County Grammar School,[3] and served with the North Staffordshire Regiment in the Second World War, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

Parliamentary career

Having stood unsuccessfully for Leyton East in 1945, Braine was elected as MP for Billericay at the 1950 general election. When constituency boundaries were revised for the 1955 election he was returned for the new South East Essex constituency, and when that constituency was abolished for the 1983 general election, he was elected for the new Castle Point constituency, becoming Father of the House of Commons in 1987 after James Callaghan's elevation to the House of Lords.

During his long parliamentary career, Braine served as a junior Minister variously for Pensions, Commonwealth Relations and Health.[1]

He was chairman of the National Council on Alcoholism, and was a member of the Parliamentary Groups on Human Rights and against abortion. For many years he served as an unofficial ambassador of HM's government to the Polish Government-in-Exile in London. He was knighted in the 1972 New Year Honours, and appointed as a Privy Counsellor in 1985.

Braine championed many causes involving oppressed people. Among them was the Campaign for the Defence of the Unjustly Prosecuted, of which he was President and later Chairman during 1980-1987.[4] In this capacity and in colaboration with the exiled journalist Josef Josten, he campaigned vigorously for the release from prison of the dissident playwright Vaclav Havel, who later became President of the Czech Republic. He was decorated by Havel at a ceremony in Prague Castle on 28 October 1995.

Later life

Braine stepped down from Parliament at the 1992 general election, and on 10 August that year he was made a life peer as Baron Braine of Wheatley, of Rayleigh in the County of Essex.[5] He died in January 2000 at the age of 85.


Coat of arms of Bernard Braine
Rising from a circlet of four chained portcullises Or alternating with pairs of tailor’s scissors an arm embowed in armour holding a sword the blade proper hilt quillons and pommel Or striking an arc of fetters also Proper.
Or a raven sable on a chief Azure between two wheatsheaves a spur Gold.
On either side a fawn Proper that to the dexter gorged with a collar Argent fimbriated Gules and charged on each shoulder with an ostrich plume Proper spined Or (one manifest) that to the sinister gorged with a like collar Argent fimbriated Or and similarly charged with like ostrich plumes.
Repugna Contra Iniustitiam Et Mala [6]


  1. "Tory Stalwart dies". BBC News. 5 January 2000. Archived from the original on 16 January 2006. Retrieved 18 January 2007.
  2. Roth, Andrew (7 January 2000). "Lord Braine of Wheatley". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 14 July 2019. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  3. "Lord Braine of Wheatley". The Times. 6 January 2000. p. 21.
  4. Polišenska, Milada (2009). "Zapomenutý Nepřitel (Forgotten Enemy) - Josef Josten". Prague: Libri. pp. 582 ff. ISBN 978-80-7277-432-6.
  5. "No. 53017". The London Gazette. 13 August 1992. p. 13717.
  6. Debrett's Peerage. 2000.