Anthony Barber, Baron Barber

Anthony Barber, Baron Barber

Infobox Chancellor
name=The Rt. Hon. Anthony Barber

order=Chancellor of the Exchequer
term_start =25 July 1970
term_end =4 March 1974
primeminister =Edward Heath
predecessor =Iain Macleod
successor =Denis Healey
birth_date = birth date|1920|7|4|df=y
birth_place = Doncaster, England
death_date =death date and age|2005|12|16|1920|7|4|df=y
death_place =Suffolk, England
party=Conservative Party

Anthony Perrinott Lysberg Barber, Baron Barber, PC (4 July 1920 – 16 December 2005), was a British Conservative politician who served as a member of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Barber was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer by Edward Heath in 1970 after the early death of Iain Macleod, serving in that capacity until 1974. He became Chairman of Standard Chartered Bank after retiring from front-line politics in 1974, and served from 1974 to 1987.

Birth and early life

Barber was the third son of John Barber and his Danish wife, Musse. Barber's unusual forenames arose from his mother, who contributed the "Lysberg", and French grandmother, who contributed the "Perrinott". His father was secretary-director of a Doncaster confectionery works. He had two brothers: Noel, who became a well-known journalist and novelist, and Kenneth, who became secretary of Midland Bank.

Barber was educated at King Edward VI's Grammar School in Retford,Nottinghamshire. He became an articled clerk, but joined the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry shortly before the Second World War started. He was commissioned into the Territorial Army Royal Artillery in 1939 and served in France with a unit from Doncaster as part of the British Expeditionary Force. He was evacuated from Dunkirk in 1940, but later he became a pilot in the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit of the RAF. He ran out of fuel on a reconnaissance mission on 25 January 1943 and ditched near Mont St Jean, but was captured by the Germans. He was mentioned in dispatches for helping escapes from the prison camp at Stalag Luft 3: he himself once escaped as far as Denmark. While still a prisoner, he took a law degree with first-class honours through the International Red Cross. On his return to England, he was awarded a state grant to Oxford University, where he took a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics in two years at Oriel College, and a scholarship to the Inner Temple. He then practised as a barrister from 1948, and specialised in taxation.

House of Commons

Anthony Barber stood in Doncaster at the 1950 general election but lost by 878 votes. He contested the seat again at the 1951 general election, however, and beat the incumbent Labour Member of Parliament, Raymond Gunter by 384 votes. He held a series of offices: Parliamentary private secretary to George Ward (Under Secretary for Air) from 1952 to 1958; junior Government whip from 1955 to 1958; and Parliamentary private secretary to Prime Minister Harold Macmillan from 1958 to 1959. He then served four years as a junior minister in the Treasury, Economic Secretary to the Treasury from 1959 to 1962, and, following the "Night of the Long Knives" on 13 July 1962, as Financial Secretary to the Treasury from 1962 to 1963 (under the Chancellorships of Derick Heathcoat Amory, Selwyn Lloyd and Reginald Maudling). He became a Cabinet minister, as Minister of Health, in 1963, but lost his the seat in the Commons in the 1964 general election to Labour's Harold Walker.

His absence from Parliament was short-lived, as in 1965 he won the by-election in Altrincham and Sale caused by the elevation to the peerage of Frederick Erroll. In opposition, he led Ted Heath's campaign to become Conservative party leader in 1965, and became party chairman in 1970. The Conservatives won the general election in 1970, and Barber held his seat until the general election of October 1974, when he himself entered the House of Lords.

Chancellor of the Exchequer

After winning the election in 1970, Edward Heath appointed Barber as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and gave him the responsibility for negotiating the entry of the UK into the European Economic Community. However, following the sudden death of Iain Macleod on 20 July, only 6 weeks after the election, Barber became the new Chancellor of the Exchequer. In line with the, initial, liberal instincts of Heath's 1970 government, he oversaw a major liberalisation of the banking system under the title of 'Competition and Credit Control', leading to a high level of lending, much of it to speculative property concerns. In his first Budget in March 1971, he proposed to replace purchase tax and selective employment tax with value added tax, and also relaxed exchange controls; both were prerequisites to membership of the EEC. VAT came into force in 1973 at a standard rate of 10%. A year later, the rate was cut to 8%.

Barber also reduced direct taxes. High levels of economic growth followed, but the traditional capacity constraints of the British economy - especially currency and balance of trade concerns - quickly choked the economic boom. The banking system fell towards crisis as the bubble burst.

During his term the economy suffered due to stagflation and industrial unrest. In 1972 he delivered a budget which was designed to return the Conservative Party to power in an election expected in 1974 or 1975. This budget led to a period known as "The Barber Boom". The measures in the budget led to high inflation and wage demands from Public Sector workers. He was forced to introduce anti-inflation measures in September 1972, along with a Prices Commission and a Pay Board. The inflation of capital asset values was also followed by the 1973 oil crisis which followed the Yom Kippur War, adding to inflationary pressures in the economy and feeding industrial militancy (already at a high as a result of the struggle over the Industrial Relations Act 1971).

After a strike by the miners, and a three-day week, Heath called for a general election on 28 February 1974, asking "Who governs Britain?". The election returned a minority Labour Government and Harold Wilson as Prime Minister.

Later years

Barber did not seek re-election at the general election of October 1974, and left front-line politics. He was made a Life peer as Baron Barber, of Wentbridge in the County of West Yorkshire, and served as Chairman of Standard Chartered Bank from that 1974 to 1987, where John Major was his personal assistant. Barber was also a director of BP from 1979 to 1988. He visited Nelson Mandela in prison, and was a member of the Franks Committee that investigated the Falklands War. In 1991, he became chair of the RAF Benevolent Association’s appeal for the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, which raised £26 million.

He suffered from Parkinson's Disease in later years, and died in Suffolk in 2005. He was married twice, with two daughters from his first marriage.

External links

*npg name|id=05053|name=Anthony Barber
* [ Chancellor orders pound flotation] (BBC, On This Day, 23 June 1972)
* [ Obituary] ("The Independent", 17 December 2005)
* [,,2087-1937809,00.html Obituary] ("The Sunday Times", 18 December 2005)
* [,,60-1938879,00.html Obituary] ("The Times", 19 December 2005)
* [,3604,1670931,00.html Obituary] ("The Guardian", 20 December 2005)

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