James Prior, Baron Prior


James Prior, Baron Prior

James Michael Leathes Prior, Baron Prior, PC, known as Jim Prior, (born 11 October 1927) is a British politician, and was Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Lowestoft and for the renamed constituency of Waveney.

He was educated at Charterhouse School and Pembroke College, Cambridge where he graduated with a BA degree in Estate Management, getting first class honours. He did military service as an officer in the Royal Norfolk Regiment of the British Army, serving in Germany and India.

He was first elected to Parliament in 1959, and was Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food from 1970-1972, then Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council until 1974. Under Margaret Thatcher he was Secretary of State for Employment from 1979 to 1981. During this period he is believed to have angered the Prime Minister by not pressing far enough with anti-trade union legislation. He became Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and was in this office until 1984. This transfer was widely seen as a move by Margaret Thatcher to isolate Prior, who disagreed with her on a number of economic issues and was seen as one of the cabinet 'wets'. The post of Secretary of State for Northern Ireland was for a time seen as a dumping ground to marginalise ministers.

He retired from Parliament in 1987 and was later created a life peer as Baron Prior, of Brampton in the County of Suffolk. His successor, David Porter never managed to escape the shadow of Prior.

He is Vice President and was Chairman of the Rural Housing Trust.

In the media

Prior was interviewed about the rise of Thatcherism for the 2006 BBC TV documentary series "Tory! Tory! Tory!".


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