Merlyn Rees

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Merlyn-Rees
File:Merlyn Rees in 1965.jpg
Shadow Secretary of State for Energy
In office
4 November 1980 – 24 November 1982
Leader Michael Foot
Preceded by David Owen
Succeeded by John Smith
Shadow Home Secretary
In office
4 May 1979 – 4 November 1980
Leader James Callaghan
Preceded by William Whitelaw
Succeeded by Roy Hattersley
Home Secretary
In office
10 September 1976 – 4 May 1979
Prime Minister James Callaghan
Preceded by Roy Jenkins
Succeeded by William Whitelaw
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
5 March 1974 – 10 September 1976
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
James Callaghan
Preceded by Francis Pym
Succeeded by Roy Mason
Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
In office
24 March 1972 – 4 March 1974
Leader Harold Wilson
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Francis Pym
Member of Parliament
for Morley and Leeds South
In office
9 June 1983 – 9 April 1992
Preceded by Constituency Created
Succeeded by John Gunnell
Member of Parliament
for Leeds South
In office
20 June 1963 – 9 June 1983
Preceded by Hugh Gaitskell
Succeeded by Constituency Abolished
Personal details
Born (1920-12-18)18 December 1920
Pontypridd, United Kingdom
Died 5 January 2006(2006-01-05) (aged 85)
London, United Kingdom
Political party Labour
Alma mater Goldsmiths, University of London
University of Nottingham
London School of Economics

Merlyn Merlyn-Rees, Baron Merlyn-Rees, PC (18 December 1920 – 5 January 2006), born Merlyn Rees, was a Welsh-born Labour party Member of Parliament from 1963 until 1992, who served as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1974–1976) and Home Secretary (1976–1979).

Early life

Born in Cilfynydd, near Pontypridd, Glamorgan, Wales, and educated at Harrow Weald Grammar School, Harrow, England and Goldsmiths College, London where he was president of the students' union from 1939 to 1941. He served in the RAF the University of Nottingham Air Squadron during World War II, becoming a squadron leader at 25. He attended the London School of Economics where he received BSc(Econ) and MSc(Econ). He was appointed schoolmaster at his old school in Harrow in 1949, teaching economics and history. He taught for eleven years, during which time he was three times an unsuccessful parliamentary candidate for Harrow East, in 1955, 1959, and in a 1959 by-election. He was a member of the Institute of Education at the University of London from 1959 to 1962.

Member of Parliament

At a by-election in 1963, he stood successfully as the Labour candidate for Leeds South, succeeding Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell, who had died in office. He held the seat until he stepped down from the House of Commons at the 1992 general election. The constituency was renamed as Morley and Leeds South in 1983. He was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from March 1974 until September 1976, when he was appointed Home Secretary. For two years before the Labour government came to power in 1974 he had been Labour Party spokesman on Northern Ireland. Rees wrote of his views on Northern Ireland in: Northern Ireland: a Personal Perspective.[1] One month after his appointment as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Rees lifted the proscription against the illegal loyalist paramilitary organisation, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in an attempt to bring them into the democratic process,[2] however, the organisation was implicated in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings on 17 May 1974 and the group was once more banned by the British Government on 3 October 1975.


Merlyn Rees Avenue, street sign in Morley, West Yorkshire

When he retired from the House of Commons in 1992, he was created a life peer as Baron Merlyn-Rees, of Morley and South Leeds in the County of West Yorkshire and of Cilfynydd in the County of Mid Glamorgan[3] and entered the House of Lords, having changed his name, on 23 June 1992, by deed poll to Merlyn Merlyn-Rees[4] to allow his title to be Merlyn-Rees rather than Rees.[5]

He was president of the Video Standards Council from 1990 and was the first Chancellor of the University of Glamorgan, a position he held from 1994 to 2002.


He suffered injuries in a number of falls, and failing to recover from these, fell into a coma, dying at the age of 85. He was survived by his wife Colleen and three sons.


Merlyn Rees Avenue in Morley, West Yorkshire is named after Rees. Merlyn Rees Community High School in Belle Isle, Leeds was named after Rees until its merger with Mathew Murray Comprehensive School in 2006 when it was renamed South Leeds High School.


  1. Methuen, London, 1985 ISBN 0-413-52590-2
  2. Taylor, Peter (1999). Loyalists. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. p.124
  3. The London Gazette: no. 52982. p. 11339. 6 July 1992.
  4. The London Gazette: no. 52985. p. 11569. 8 July 1992.


  • Merlyn Rees, "Northern Ireland: a personal perspective", Methuen, London, 1985.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Hugh Gaitskell
Member of Parliament for Leeds South
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Morley and Leeds South
Succeeded by
John Gunnell
Political offices
Preceded by
Francis Pym
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
Succeeded by
Roy Mason
Preceded by
Roy Jenkins
Home Secretary
Succeeded by
William Whitelaw
Academic offices
Preceded by
The Lord Morris of Aberavon
Chancellor of the University of Glamorgan