- William Wedgwood Benn, 1st Viscount Stansgate
Hackney, Benn was the second son of Sir John Benn, MP, and his father-in-law Daniel Holmeswas also an MP. He was educated at the Lycée Condorcetin Parisand at University College, London. In 1906 he was elected as a Liberal MP for the St George's division of Tower Hamlets in east London, a seat he held until 1918. He served with the Royal Naval Air Serviceduring World War I, seeing service at Gallipoli. He was a Liberal Whip 1910–1915. In 1918 he was elected for Leith in Scotland, a seat he held until March 1927, when he resigned from the Liberal Party and from Parliament. In 1920 he married Margaret Holmes.
In 1928 Benn was re-elected as a Labour member for Aberdeen North. He was
Secretary of State for Indiain Ramsay MacDonald's second government (1929–1931). He refused to follow MacDonald into the National Government coalition with the Conservatives, and at the 1931 election he lost his seat.
Benn was elected as Labour MP for Gorton near
World War II
Although in his early 60s at start of
World War II, Benn returned to military flying joining the Royal Air Forceas a pilot officer. Following his promotion to air commodore, Benn served as Director of Public Relations at the Air Ministry.
In 1942 he was created
Viscount Stansgateand in 1944 he was appointed Vice President of the Allied Control Commission which was charged with reconstructing a democratic government in Italy.
In 1945 he became
Secretary of State for Airin Clement Attlee's Labour government, a position he held until October 1946. He then sat as a backbench Labour peer until his death in Westminsterin 1960, when he was succeeded as Viscount Stansgate by his son Tony Benn, who succeeded in getting the law changed to allow him to disclaim the peerage.
His grandson, the Labour MP for Leeds Central
Hilary Benn, is currently the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
* [http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/TUbenn.htm Spartacus Educational - William Wedgwood Benn]
NAME=Benn, William Wedgwood
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=1st Viscount Stansgate
SHORT DESCRIPTION=British Liberal MP who later joined the Labour Party; father of
DATE OF BIRTH=
10 May 1877
PLACE OF BIRTH=
DATE OF DEATH=
17 November 1960
PLACE OF DEATH=
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