Frank Pakenham, 7th Earl of Longford

Francis Aungier Pakenham, 7th Earl of Longford, 1st Baron Pakenham, Baron Pakenham of Cowley, KG, PC (5 December 1905 – 3 August 2001), known to his family as Frank Longford and styled Lord Pakenham from 1945 to 1961, was a British politician and social reformer. A member of the Labour Party, he was one of its longest-serving politicians. He held cabinet positions on several occasions between 1947 and 1968. Longford was politically active until his death in 2001. A member of an old, landed Anglo-Irish family, the Pakenhams (who became Earls of Longford), he was one of the few aristocratic hereditary peers ever to serve in a senior capacity within a Labour government.


The Earl of Longford

Longford at Allan Warren's studio in London in 1974
Leader of the House of Lords
In office
18 October 1964  16 January 1968
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded byThe Lord Carrington
Succeeded byThe Lord Shackleton
Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal
In office
6 April 1966  16 January 1968
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded bySir Frank Soskice
Succeeded byThe Lord Shackleton
In office
18 October 1964  23 December 1965
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded bySelwyn Lloyd
Succeeded bySir Frank Soskice
Secretary of State for the Colonies
In office
23 December 1965  6 April 1966
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded byAnthony Greenwood
Succeeded byFrederick Lee
First Lord of the Admiralty
In office
24 May 1951  13 October 1951
MonarchGeorge VI
Prime MinisterClement Attlee
Preceded byThe Viscount Hall
Succeeded byJames Thomas
Minister of Civil Aviation
In office
31 May 1948  1 June 1951
MonarchGeorge VI
Prime MinisterClement Attlee
Preceded byThe Lord Nathan
Succeeded byThe Lord Ogmore
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
(Deputy Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs)
In office
17 April 1947  31 May 1948
MonarchGeorge VI
Prime MinisterClement Attlee
Preceded byJohn Hynd
Succeeded byHugh Dalton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for War
In office
4 October 1946  17 April 1947
MonarchGeorge VI
Prime MinisterClement Attlee
Preceded byThe Lord Nathan
Succeeded byJohn Freeman
Lord-in-waiting
Government Whip
In office
14 October 1945  4 October 1946
MonarchGeorge VI
Prime MinisterClement Attlee
Preceded byThe Lord Alness
Succeeded byThe Lord Chorley
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
17 November 1999  3 August 2001
Life peerage
In office
16 October 1945  11 November 1999
Hereditary peerage
Preceded byPeerage created
Succeeded bySeat abolished
Personal details
Born
Francis Aungier Pakenham

(1905-12-05)5 December 1905
Died3 August 2001(2001-08-03) (aged 95)
NationalityBritish
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)
(m. 1931)
Children8
ParentsThomas Pakenham, 5th Earl of Longford
Lady Mary Child-Villiers
Alma materNew College, Oxford
Coat of Arms of Frank Pakenham, 7th Earl of Longford, KG, PC

Longford was famed for championing social outcasts and unpopular causes.[1] He is especially notable for his lifelong advocacy of penal reform. Longford visited prisons on a regular basis for nearly 70 years until his death. He advocated for rehabilitation programmes and helped create the modern British parole system in the 1960s following the abolition of the death penalty. His ultimately unsuccessful campaign for the release of Moors murderer Myra Hindley attracted much media and public controversy. For this work, the Longford Prize is named after him. It is awarded annually during the Longford Lecture and recognises achievement in the field of penal reform.[2]

As a devout Christian determined to translate faith into action, he was known for his bombastic style and his eccentricity.[3] Although a shrewd and influential politician, he was also widely unpopular among Labour leaders, particularly for his lack of ministerial ability, and was moved from cabinet post to cabinet post, never serving more than two years at any one ministry. Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson opined that Longford had the mental capacity of a 12-year-old.[4]

In 1972, he was made a Knight of the Garter. In the same year, he was appointed to head the group charged with investigating the effects of pornography on society which published the controversial Pornography Report (the Longford Report).[5][6] He became known as a campaigner against pornography and held the view that it was degrading to both its users and to those who worked in the trade, especially women.[7] Longford was also an outspoken critic of the British press, and once said it was "trembling on the brink of obscenity".[8]

Longford was instrumental in decriminalising homosexuality in the United Kingdom, but was always forthright with his strong moral disapproval of homosexual acts on religious grounds.[9][10] He opposed furthering gay rights legislation, including the equalisation of the age of consent, and also supported the passage of Section 28.[10][11]