Reginald Maudling

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The Right Honourable
Reginald Maudling
Home Secretary
In office
20 June 1970 – 18 July 1972
Prime Minister Edward Heath
Preceded by James Callaghan
Succeeded by Robert Carr
Shadow Foreign Secretary
In office
11 February 1975 – 11 April 1976
Leader Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Geoffrey Rippon
Succeeded by John Davies
In office
27 July 1965 – 11 November 1965
Leader Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Edward Heath
Preceded by Rab Butler
Succeeded by Christopher Soames
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
In office
21 April 1968 – 1969
Leader Edward Heath
Preceded by Enoch Powell
Succeeded by Geoffrey Rippon
Shadow Commonwealth Secretary
In office
27 July 1965 – 21 April 1968
Leader Edward Heath
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
16 October 1964 – 27 July 1965
Leader Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Preceded by James Callaghan
Succeeded by Edward Heath
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
13 July 1962 – 16 October 1964
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan
Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Preceded by Selwyn Lloyd
Succeeded by James Callaghan
Secretary of State for the Colonies
In office
9 October 1961 – 13 July 1962
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan
Preceded by Iain Macleod
Succeeded by Duncan Sandys
President of the Board of Trade
In office
14 October 1959 – 9 October 1961
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan
Preceded by Sir David Eccles
Succeeded by Fred Erroll
Paymaster General
In office
14 January 1957 – 14 October 1959
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan
Preceded by Sir Walter Monckton
Succeeded by The Lord Mills
Minister of Supply
In office
7 April 1955 – 14 January 1957
Prime Minister Anthony Eden
Preceded by Selwyn Lloyd
Succeeded by Aubrey Jones
Economic Secretary to the Treasury
In office
1952 – 7 April 1955
Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Preceded by John Edwards
Succeeded by Edward Boyle
Member of Parliament
for Chipping Barnet
In office
28 February 1974 – 14 February 1979
Preceded by Constituency Created
Succeeded by Sydney Chapman
Member of Parliament
for Barnet
In office
23 February 1950 – 28 February 1974
Preceded by Stephen Taylor
Succeeded by Constituency Abolished
Personal details
Born Reginald Maulding
(1917-03-07)7 March 1917
Finchley, England
Died 14 February 1979(1979-02-14) (aged 61)
Hampstead, England
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Beryl Laverick (m.1939-79)
Children 4
Alma mater Merton College, Oxford
Profession Barrister
Religion Church of England

Reginald Maudling (7 March 1917 – 14 February 1979)[1] was a British politician who held several Cabinet posts, including Chancellor of the Exchequer. He had been spoken of as a prospective Conservative leader since 1955, and was twice seriously considered for the post; he was Edward Heath's chief rival in 1965. He also held directorships in several British financial firms.

As Home Secretary, he was responsible for the British Government's Northern Ireland policy during the period that included Bloody Sunday in 1972. Shortly thereafter, he left office due to an unrelated scandal in one of the companies of which he was director. He was a member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group.[2]

Maudling may be remembered in modern times for his constant ridicule on Monty Python's Flying Circus.[citation needed]

Early life

Reginald Maudling was born in Woodside Park, North Finchley, and was named for his father, Reginald George Maudling, an actuary, who contracted to do actuarial and financial calculations as the Commercial Calculating Company Ltd. The family moved to Bexhill, to escape German air raids; he won scholarships to the Merchant Taylors' School and Merton College, Oxford. At Oxford, Maudling stayed out of undergraduate politics and studied the works of Hegel; he was to formulate his conclusions later as the inseparability of economic and political freedom: "the purpose of State control and the guiding principle of its application is the achievement of true freedom". He obtained his degree in Classics with first class honours.[3]

Political career

Shortly after graduating, Maudling set up a meeting with Harold Nicolson to discuss whether it would be better, as a moderate conservative, to join the Conservative Party or National Labour; Nicolson advised him to wait. Maudling was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in 1940. However, he did not practise as a barrister, having volunteered for service in the Royal Air Force in World War II. Poor eyesight led him to desk jobs in the RAF intelligence branch where he rose—as a "Wingless Wonder", as officers who were not qualified to wear pilot's wings were called—to the rank of Flight Lieutenant; he was then appointed Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Air, Sir Archibald Sinclair.[4]

Parliamentary candidate

Maudling wrote an essay on Conservative policy in November 1943, recommending that the Conservatives neither imitate the Labour Party nor reflexively oppose all controls; in the general election of July 1945, he was selected as parliamentary candidate for Heston and Isleworth, a newly created constituency in the county of Middlesex, although there were four applicants and he had no ties to that constituency. In the subsequent Labour landslide Maudling was defeated like many others, although Heston and Isleworth had been expected to be a safe Conservative seat. After their defeat in the 1945 general election, the Conservative Party engaged in an extensive rethink of its policy. Maudling argued that the Party had depended excessively on the popularity of Winston Churchill and outdated economic slogans.

In November 1945, Maudling became the first staff member of the Conservative Parliamentary Secretariat, later the Conservative Research Department, where he was head of the Economic Section. He persuaded the party to accept much of the Labour government's nationalisation programme and social services while cutting government spending. In March 1946, Maudling was chosen as the prospective candidate for Barnet, close to his birthplace in Finchley, and began giving speeches there. Labour had unexpectedly won the seat in 1945, but it was considered to be marginal. In 1950, Maudling was elected as Member of Parliament with an absolute majority.[5]

Member of Parliament and Cabinet

Following the 1951 election, Churchill made Maudling a junior Minister at the Ministry of Civil Aviation. However, his experience of preparing economic policy led to his speaking on behalf of the Treasury on the 1952 budget and thus to an appointment, later that year, as Economic Secretary to the Treasury. With his mentor Rab Butler as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Maudling worked to reduce taxes and controls in order to move from post-war austerity to affluence. When Anthony Eden took over as Prime Minister in 1955, Maudling was promoted to head a department as Minister of Supply. He supported the invasion of Suez. The Ministry was responsible for aircraft production and supplying the armed forces, and Maudling came to agree with critics who argued that it was an unnecessary intermediary; he therefore recommended its abolition. Although supportive of Harold Macmillan's appointment as Prime Minister over the rival claims of Butler in 1957, Maudling found himself in difficulties over his position in the new government. He refused to continue at the Ministry of Supply and also rejected an offer of the Ministry of Health because Iain Macleod, with whom he had a rivalry, had held the post five years earlier and Maudling did not want to be seen as five years behind him.

Macmillan appointed Maudling to the post of Paymaster General and spokesman in the House of Commons for the Ministry of Fuel and Power, which was technically a demotion. Nine months later, Maudling had proved his usefulness and Macmillan brought him into the Cabinet (17 September 1957) where he acted more as a Minister without Portfolio: he had specific responsibility for persuading the six members of the embryonic European Economic Community, who had recently signed the Treaty of Rome, to abandon their proposal for a customs union in favour of a wider free-trade area where each country would preserve their own external tariffs. However, Maudling's lack of international experience led him to underestimate the importance of the nascent Community and what was constructive in it. Faced with widespread rejection of the proposals, Maudling aroused hostility in Bonn and Paris by seeking to play off the Germans against the French. On 14 November 1958, six months after the election of General de Gaulle, Jacques Soustelle, the French Minister of Information, confirmed to the Press that France would reject the Maudling plan. Two days later, the British delegation to the Community formally called an end to accession negotiations. Maudling later revised his proposals which were to form the basis of the European Free Trade Association.[6]

Meanwhile, Maudling became an underwriting member of Lloyd's of London in December 1957, although his assets were somewhat below average for other 'names'.[7]

President of the Board of Trade

Maudling entered the front line of politics after the 1959 election when appointed President of the Board of Trade. He was responsible for introducing the government's proposals to help areas of high unemployment. This was achieved by paying grants to companies to create new plants in these deprived areas, and also by the government taking over unused land for development. Maudling also succeeded in negotiating a free trade agreement between the countries outside the Common Market; this became the European Free Trade Association and was some compensation for his failure to negotiate a free trade area with the Common Market. Maudling was opposed to any proposal to join the Common Market on the basis that it would end Britain's right to make commercial agreements with New Zealand and Australia. He was later to remark that "I can think of no more retrograde step economically or politically". This comment was to be quoted against him when, less than two years later, he was Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time of the reopening of negotiations for Common Market membership.[8]

Colonial Secretary

Reginald Maudling was for a short time, as Secretary of State for the Colonies in 1961, responsible for the process of decolonisation. In this position he chaired constitutional conferences for Jamaica, Northern Rhodesia and Trinidad and Tobago which prepared them for independence; his plan for Northern Rhodesia was controversial and he had to threaten resignation before it was approved. However Maudling was keen to return to economic policy, and seized his opportunity when Macmillan made it clear in private that he supported a voluntary incomes policy. Maudling promptly made his case in public, and three weeks later was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in Macmillan's "Night of the Long Knives" attempt to rejuvenate his Cabinet.[9]

Chancellor of the Exchequer

As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Maudling soon cut purchase tax and bank interest rates. His 1963 budget[10] aimed at "expansion without inflation". Following a period of economic difficulty, with a growth target of 4%. Maudling was able to remove income tax from owner occupiers' residential premises. He also abolished the rate of duty on home-brewed beer which in effect legalised it. This was the period in which Maudling was at his most popular within the Conservative Party and in the country.

However, later commentators have been less kind to Maudling: Harold Wilson and his Chancellor James Callaghan (who nevertheless sounded out Maudling for the governorship of the Bank of England in 1966)[11] blamed the "dash for growth" that followed the 1963 budget for increasing pound sterling's chronic instability between 1964 and 1967 and by greatly increasing domestic demand the budget certainly exacerbated the existing balance of payments problem. Maudling largely recognised this himself by the time of the 1964 budget and, although he increased taxes, he did little to subdue demand in an election year.

First unsuccessful leadership bid

By 1963, during the Profumo affair, there was talk, encouraged by Martin Redmayne (Chief Whip) and Lord Poole (Party Chairman), of Maudling succeeding Macmillan as Prime Minister. Maudling visited Butler (Deputy Prime Minister) and obtained a mutual promise that they would, if necessary, agree to serve under one another – Maudling believed that he had gained an advantage in obtaining the agreement of Butler, his senior, to serve under him if necessary. However, William Rees-Mogg claimed in The Times on 28 July that Butler led Maudling by 2:1 in the Cabinet, although Maudling had more support amongst backbench MPs.[12]

However, Macmillan's sudden illness and announcement of his resignation in October 1963 came at a time when Maudling's support had fallen. He was also poorly received at the Conservative Party conference, which had become a hustings for the leadership, despite coaching from Iain Macleod in how to deliver his speech. Back in London the following week, a process of "consultation" by Lord Chancellor Dilhorne and by Redmayne declared Foreign Secretary Lord Home, rather than Maudling or Butler, to be the compromise candidate. Enoch Powell, Macleod, Hailsham and Maudling (known as "the Quad" in some accounts of the following days) sought to persuade Butler to refuse to serve, so that Butler rather than Home would have to become Prime Minister. Macleod and Maudling demanded that Dilhorne lay the results of his consultations before the Cabinet, but he refused to do so.[13] Maudling attended the meeting at Powell's house late in the evening of 17 October, "well-refreshed" after attending a formal dinner, and seems to have "gone along with it" rather than being a ringleader, although he and Hailsham agreed to serve under Butler.[14] However, on the morning of Saturday 19 October Butler then Maudling agreed to serve under Home, enabling him to accept office as Prime Minister.[15]

Maudling retained his post as Chancellor under the new Prime Minister, and, in the 1964 election, Maudling had a prominent role at the helm of the party's daily press conferences while Douglas-Home toured the country. On the BBC's election results programme, the journalist Anthony Howard said that he believed that if Maudling had been leader, the narrow Conservative defeat would have been a narrow Conservative victory.[16] Upon being forced out of the post by the election defeat, Maudling left a note to his successor, James Callaghan, simply stating "Good luck, old cock.... Sorry to leave it in such a mess."

Second unsuccessful leadership bid

Out of office, Maudling accepted the offer of a seat on the board of Kleinwort Benson in November 1964, one of the factors which led to his being shifted to spokesman on Foreign Affairs in early 1965. Unlike other potential leadership contenders, Maudling publicly maintained his loyalty to Douglas-Home as criticisms of his leadership mounted. When Douglas-Home resigned, after putting in place a system in which the leadership was directly elected, Maudling fought against Edward Heath for the position of candidate to the party centre-right. Unfortunately for Maudling, Enoch Powell also stood as a candidate supporting monetarist and proto-Thatcherite economics.

Maudling's business directorships with Kleinwort Benson and others were mentioned by his opponents as evidence of his lack of commitment for the role, and he was criticised as too close to the Macmillan/Douglas-Home style of politics. He won 133 votes against Heath's 150; Powell's 15 votes were seen as more likely to have gone to Maudling had Powell not stood, but they would have made no difference since Heath obtained 150, a narrow majority.

Deputy Leader and Home Secretary

Maudling served as Deputy Leader under Heath, and was also a prominent member of the Shadow Cabinet. However, he was neither personally nor politically close to Edward Heath, and as a consequence his influence declined; his support for an incomes policy now went against party policy. He also tended to make gaffes, as for example when he said Harold Wilson had been following the same policy as the Conservatives on Rhodesia and "I can't think of anything he has done wrongly". After Enoch Powell had been sacked from the Shadow Cabinet in 1968 for his controversial Rivers of Blood speech, Maudling was moved from the position of Shadow Commonwealth Secretary to become Shadow Defence Secretary until 1969 when he was replaced by Geoffrey Rippon. When the Conservatives returned to power in 1970, Maudling was appointed Home Secretary; the most pressing problem at the Home Office was tackling the Troubles in Northern Ireland. After boarding the aircraft at the end of his first visit to the province, he remarked "For God's sake bring me a large Scotch. What a bloody awful country."[17]

Maudling's attitude of reassuring calmness in interviews, normally helpful to him, was damaging when he referred to reducing IRA violence to "an acceptable level", a remark widely regarded as a gaffe. He also tended to trust the Unionist-controlled Government of Northern Ireland and gloss over differences between their approach and that of the United Kingdom government. This backfired when the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, James Chichester-Clark, resigned when denied enough troops in March 1971. That August, Maudling authorised the Northern Ireland government to introduce internment without trial for terror suspects, which caused widespread upheaval and anger among the nationalist population due to its exclusive use on that community,[18] and was followed by an already planned massive escalation in the level of violence.

Regarding criminal justice, Maudling made no attempt, despite his personal support, to reintroduce capital punishment after its abolition in 1969. He introduced Community Service, a new alternative to prison, and in 1971 modestly tightened the immigration rules.[19] He was criticised for ordering the deportation of Rudi Dutschke, later one of the founders of the German Green Party. Dutschke, who was in Britain to recuperate from an assassination attempt, was considered a student anarchist.[citation needed]

Bloody Sunday

Maudling's statement in the House of Commons after Bloody Sunday agreed with the British army's statement that the Parachute Regiment had fired only in self-defence.[20] After being denied recognition by the Speaker of the House Selwyn Lloyd to speak on the massacre, Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, a Northern Ireland nationalist MP, walked across the floor of the Commons and slapped Maudling, purportedly over her frustration at being denied the right to speak.[21] Eventually, Edward Heath decided to bring in direct rule of Northern Ireland under a separate Secretary of State. In 1974, Shane Paul O'Doherty, a PIRA terrorist, sent Maudling a letter bomb, which slightly injured him.[22]


In 1972, Maudling's business activities were causing considerable disquiet and speculation in the press. In 1966, he had obtained a directorship in the company of John Poulson, an architect Maudling helped obtain lucrative contracts. Poulson routinely did business through bribery and in 1972 was made bankrupt. The bankruptcy hearings disclosed his bribe payments, and Maudling's connection became public knowledge. Maudling came to the decision that his responsibility for the Metropolitan Police, which was beginning fraud investigations into Poulson, made his position as Home Secretary untenable. He resigned on 18 July, to general sympathy from the press.[citation needed]

Shortly after receiving Maudling's resignation, Edward Heath's government performed a 'U-turn' on economic policy and subsequently adopted an approach strikingly similar to Maudling's. Heath advised Maudling not to drop out of the public eye and he continued to make many media appearances. In the year after the Conservative Party's electoral defeat in 1974, Heath was replaced as leader by Margaret Thatcher. She appointed Maudling to the post of Shadow Foreign Secretary. However, Maudling clashed with Thatcher over economics, and after less than two years in the role he was dismissed on 19 November 1976. Departing, Maudling summed up his career as "hired by Winston Churchill, fired by Margaret Thatcher". He subsequently attacked the monetarist economic theories to which Thatcher had turned.[citation needed]

Last years and death

In 1969, he had been President of the Real Estate Fund of America, whose Chief Executive, Jerome Hoffman, had been imprisoned for fraud; Maudling had also been an adviser to the Peachey Property Corporation, whose Chairman, Sir Eric Miller, had embezzled company money and later committed suicide. He was revealed to have lobbied for more aid to Malta after obtaining a commission for Poulson there, which had led to heavy losses to the Maltese government. These further revelations led to a Parliamentary inquiry into the conduct of Maudling and two other MPs linked to Poulson. This inquiry published its report on 14 July 1977; the report concluded that Maudling had indulged in "conduct inconsistent with the standards which the House is entitled to expect from its members".[citation needed]

When the report was considered by the House of Commons, the Conservative Party organised its MPs to attend the debate to "Save Reggie". An amendment was put down to "take note" of the report, instead of endorsing it, and carried by 230 votes (211 Conservatives, 17 Labour, 2 Liberals and 2 Ulster Unionists) to 207. No punishment was imposed. An attempt by backbench Labour MPs to expel Maudling from the House was defeated by 331 votes to 11, and a move to suspend him for six months was lost by 324 to 97. As Lewis Baston's 2004 biography recounts, Maudling and his wife became heavy drinkers once his political career was effectively ended by the scandal. The drinking turned to alcoholism and Maudling's health rapidly deteriorated in the late 1970s. In early 1979, he collapsed and there were fears that his treatment would be hindered by the strikes in the "Winter of Discontent". He died on 14 February of cirrhosis of the liver and kidney failure in the Royal Free Hospital at the age of 61. His seat was retained by Conservative Sydney Chapman in the general election on 3 May 1979, in which the Conservatives returned to government.[23]

He is buried in the churchyard of the Hertfordshire village of Little Berkhamsted, where a stone seat from the Maudlings' garden has been placed beside the grave.[citation needed]

Family life

Maudling married actress Beryl Laverick (1919–1988) in 1939. They had three sons and a daughter, Caroline Maudling, who became a journalist in the 1960s as the "travelling teenager" of the Daily Mail and, among other things, appeared alongside John Lennon on BBC TV's Juke Box Jury in 1963.[24] Maudling's mother had disowned him as a result of his marriage, and Maudling did not attend her funeral in 1956.[25] When Caroline aroused comment by having a child out of wedlock in the late 1960s, Maudling was staunch in her defence, publicly expressing paternal pride.[26] Beryl Maudling was buried next to her husband at Little Berkhamsted.


  1. The Papers of Reginald Maudling Retrieved 25 February 2008.
  2. "Former Steering Committee Members". Bilderberg Group. Retrieved 8 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Baston, Reggie Chapter 1, and pp. 40–42, 173–4; quotation, from Maudling's essay, "Conservatives and Control", on Baston, p. 41.
  4. Baston, Reggie, Chapter 2
  5. Baston, Reggie, Chapters 3–5; "professional politician" (as opposed to gentleman amateur, born to politics, p. 49. Maudling had 53% of the vote in a three-party contest; the Conservative lead was 10,534 out of 70,687.
  6. Beloff, Nora (1963). The General Says No. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 78–80.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Baston, Reggie, Chapter 6–8
  8. Beloff, N., p. 87.
  9. Baston, Reggie, Chapters 9 and 10
  10. "April – The Chancellor, Reginald Maudling, announces the Budget" Illingworth Exhibition: Cartoons of the 1960s. Contemporary cartoon of the budget announcement. Retrieved 25 February 2008.
  11. Baston, Chapter 16
  12. Howard 1987, p. 300-2
  13. Howard 1987, p. 316-21
  14. Sandford 2005, pp. 705
  15. Howard 1987, p. 316-21
  16. Baston, Reggie, chapters 11–13. Howard quoted from Maudling's autobiography.
  17. Sunday Times Insight Team, Ulster (Penguin, 1972), page 213; The politics of drinking in power BBC News Online, 6 January 2006. Retrieved 25 February 2008.
  18. Biographies of Prominent People – 'M', CAIN Web Service. Retrieved 25 February 2008.
  19. 1971: UK restricts Commonwealth migrants BBC News Online. Retrieved 25 February 2008.
  20. "The Bitter Road from Bloody Sunday", Retrieved 25 February 2008.
  21. Maiden speeches in short supply BBC News Online, 6 April 2001 Retrieved 25 February 2008.
  22. Horsnell, Michael (2 February 1974). "Mr Maudling slightly hurt by letter bomb". The Times. p. 1. Retrieved 31 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "UK General Election results May 1979". Retrieved 8 October 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Baston, Chapter 13
  25. Baston, Chapter 2
  26. Baston, Chapter 13


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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Stephen Taylor
Member of Parliament for Barnet
1950February 1974
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Chipping Barnet
February 19741979
Succeeded by
Sir Sydney Chapman
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Walter Monckton
Paymaster General
Succeeded by
The Lord Mills
Preceded by
Sir David Eccles
President of the Board of Trade
Succeeded by
Fred Erroll
Preceded by
Iain Macleod
Secretary of State for the Colonies
Succeeded by
Duncan Sandys
Preceded by
Selwyn Lloyd
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Succeeded by
James Callaghan
Preceded by
R. A. Butler
Shadow Foreign Secretary
Succeeded by
Christopher Soames
Preceded by
James Callaghan
Home Secretary
Succeeded by
Robert Carr
Preceded by
Geoffrey Rippon
Shadow Foreign Secretary
Succeeded by
John Davies