Norman Fowler, Baron Fowler
Peter Norman Fowler, Baron Fowler British politician who served as a member of both Margaret Thatcher and John Major's ministries during the 1980s and 1990s. He was elected Lord Speaker in September 2016.(born 2 February 1938) is a
After serving as Shadow Minister of Transport, Fowler was appointed Minister of Transport in 1979, being responsible for making seat belts compulsory. Later, as Secretary of State for Health and Social Services, he drew public attention to the dangers of AIDS. He resigned from the cabinet as Employment Secretary, and was knighted in 1990.
Fowler was Chairman of the Conservative Party from 1992 to 1994, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Transport and the Regions in 1997–98 and Shadow Home Secretary in 1998–99. In 2001, he was created a Conservative Life Peer. He renounced party political allegiance upon taking office as Lord Speaker.
The son of Norman Frederick Fowler and Katherine née Baker, he was educated at King Edward VI Grammar School in Chelmsford, Essex; after which he did National Service as a second lieutenant in the Essex Regiment. Whilst studying at Trinity Hall, Cambridge (BA Economics & Law 1961), he was Chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association in Michaelmas 1960, in which term he entertained both the Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and Home Secretary (and de facto Deputy Prime Minister, although he did not hold the title until 1962) RAB Butler. He then became a journalist, and worked on The Times.
Member of Parliament
During the mid-1970s Fowler was Shadow Minister of Transport. In April 1976 he was photographed outside the Palace of Westminster having just taken delivery of his third four-cylinder MG MGB GT – he had reportedly rejected the idea of buying a V8 version on account of the cost.
Upon Margaret Thatcher becoming Prime Minister in 1979, she did not immediately appoint Fowler to her Cabinet, explaining: "we were short of one place. As a result, Norman Fowler, as Minister of State at Transport, was not able to be an official member of the Cabinet, although he attended all our meetings."
As Secretary of State for Health and Social Security in 1986, Fowler implemented the first official drive to educate the British public to the dangers of AIDS. Edwina Currie (Health) and John Major (Social Security) both served under him as junior ministers.
Backbenches, retirement and Shadow Cabinet
Fowler later resigned from the Cabinet as Employment Secretary in January 1990; he later claimed that he was the first politician to cite "to spend more time with my [his] family" as his reason for leaving office.
Following his resignation from the frontbench, Fowler was knighted in 1990.
Fowler then returned twice to front-line politics, first as Chairman of the Conservative Party (as a backbencher in Parliament) from 1992 to 1994, during which time he oversaw the parliamentary boundary changes of the early 1990s; then on the Conservative front bench as Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Transport and the Regions (1997–98) and finally as Shadow Home Secretary (1998–99).
In 2001, he stepped down as a Member of Parliament.
House of Lords
In May 2013, Fowler gave his support to legislation aiming to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples, stating: "Parliament should value people equally in the law, and that enabling same-sex couples to marry removes the current inequity."
He was elected as Lord Speaker in 2016. He is the third person and first man to hold the office since it was established by the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. Lord Fowler has stated that he favours reducing the House of Lords to 600 members.
On 19 March 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic he announced that he would be withdrawing from Westminster and working from home, with deputy speakers taking over his role in the House of Lords.
Work in industry
Lord Fowler has been deeply involved in industry, having served on the board of directors of several companies. He is non-executive chairman of Aggregate Industries plc. He is a member of the National Union of Journalists.
- Dod's Parliamentary Companion 2005, 173rd edition, London, 2004, p.581.
- "News: An MG for Shadow Minister". Autocar. Vol. 144 (nbr 4146). 24 April 1976. p. 27.
- Margaret Thatcher, The Downing Street Years (HarperCollins, 1993), p. 29.
- "Seat belt law introduction recalled by Lord Fowler". BBC News. 21 May 2011. Archived from the original on 7 October 2016. Retrieved 1 July 2011.
- "RoSPA History - How Belting Up Became Law". Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2011.
- Norman Fowler (5 July 2008). "Family first". Guardian Unlimited. Archived from the original on 21 February 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2008.
- "No. 52026". The London Gazette. 23 January 1990. p. 973.
- "No. 56266". The London Gazette. 6 July 2001. p. 1.
- Michael White (21 February 2003). "Europe should appoint Aids envoy, peer says". Guardian Unlimited. Archived from the original on 4 December 2004. Retrieved 13 April 2008.
- "Conservative Lord Fowler: If Parliament values people equally, it must make same-sex marriage legal". Archived from the original on 17 May 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
- "Lord Fowler elected as new Lord Speaker". UK Parliament. 13 June 2016. Archived from the original on 9 February 2018. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
- "House of Lords size should be cut by 200 peers, Lords Speaker says". 6 September 2016. Archived from the original on 17 September 2016. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
- "Lord Speaker announces withdrawal from Parliament amid coronavirus outbreak". Politics Home. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
- "The board at Aggregate Industries". www.aggregate.com. Archived from the original on 5 December 2011. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
- "Freelance May00: Freedom of Information: your task". www.londonfreelance.org. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 7 September 2016.