- Paul Channon, Baron Kelvedon
The Right Honourable
name = Paul Channon
Baron Kelvedon of Ongar, PC
9 October 1935
death_date =death date and age|2007|01|27|1935|10|09|df=y
Brentwood, Essex, UK
Secretary of State for Transport
13 June 1987
24 July 1989
predecessor = John Moore
Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
24 January 1986
13 June 1987
successor2 = David Young
Minister for the Arts
14 September 1981
11 June 1983
predecessor3 = Norman St John-Stevas
successor3 = Grey Ruthven
constituency_MP4 = Southend West
term_start4 = 1959
term_end4 = 1997
party = Conservative
Henry Paul Guinness Channon, Baron Kelvedon, PC (
9 October 1935– 27 January 2007) was Conservative MP for Southend West for 38 years, from 1959 until 1997. He served in various ministerial offices, and was a Cabinet minister for 3½ years, as President of the Board of Trade and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry from January 1986 to June 1987, and then as Secretary of State for Transportto July 1989.
Channon was the only child of Sir Henry "Chips" Channon, the politician and diarist, and Lady Honor Channon, eldest daughter of
Rupert Guinness, 2nd Earl of Iveagh. It is not unreasonable to suppose that he was named after Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, his father's dearest friend. His family were well connected: he received a toy panda from King Edward VIIIin the run up to the abdication, and was friends with Duke of Kent, who was born on the same day, from childhood. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/news/2007/01/30/db3001.xml Obituary] , " The Daily Telegraph", 30 January 2007.] He was evacuated to live with the Astor familyduring the Second World War.
He was educated at
Lockers Park Schoolin Hemel Hempsteadand Eton. The playwright Terence Rattigandedicated his play " The Winslow Boy" (1946) to him.
National Servicein the Royal Horse Guards(the Blues) from 1955 to 1956, serving in Cyprus during the 1956 Cyprus emergency. In London, he was a member of the set around Princess Margaret. He then attended Christ Church, Oxfordfrom 1956. [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,60-2573003,00.html Obituary] , " The Times", 30 January 2007.] He was president of Oxford University Conservative Association. [http://www.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,,2002349,00.html Obituary] , " The Guardian", 31 January 2007.]
While a second year undergraduate at
Oxford University, Channon was elected at the by-election for Southend West in January 1959 at the age of 23. The seat had connections with his family since 1912, when his grandfather, Rupert Guinness, became MP for South East Essex. Guinness became MP for the new seat of Southend in 1918. When Guinness succeeded his father as 2nd Earl of Iveagh in 1927, the seat was won by his wife, Gwendolen Guinness, Countess of Iveagh, who remained MP for Southend until she retired in 1935. She, in turn, was replaced by her son-in-law, Henry "Chips" Channon, who kept the seat until it was divided in 1950, and who then represented one of the seats that replaced it, Southend West, until his death in October 1958.
Channon won the nomination to his father's seat ahead of 129 other applicants and in spite of a campaign in
Lord Beaverbrook's " Daily Express" against the apparent nepotism. His grandmother, Lady Iveagh, the former MP, congratulated the voters of Southend for "backing a colt when you know the stable he was trained in".
Member of Parliament
Parliamentary Private Secretaryto Richard Wood, (later Lord Holderness), the Minister of Power, from 1959 to 1960, [http://news.independent.co.uk/people/obituaries/article2201068.ece Obituary] , " The Independent", 31 January 2007.] and then to R. A. Butlerfrom 1961 to 1964 (while Butler was Home Secretary, First Secretary of Stateand then Foreign Secretary). Channon's father had once held the same position. Channon was elected to the executive of the 1922 Committeein 1965. He was one of few Conservative MPs to support the 1965 bill that ended capital punishment, and also opposed the unilateral declaration of independenceby Ian Smith's Rhodesia.
In opposition, Conservative leader
Edward Heathappointed Channon as a spokesman on public building and works in 1965, and then on arts in 1967. He served as a junior minister in the government led by Heath from 1970 to 1974, as Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Housing and Local Government in 1970, then as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the new Department of the Environmentfrom 1970 to 1972, briefly as Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Officefor six months in 1972, and then Minister of Housing and Construction from 1972 to 1974. Secretary of State for Northern Ireland William Whitelawmet IRA leader Sean MacStiofainand other Republicans at Channon's house in Chelsea on 7 July 1972. The talks ended in failure, and the IRA bombed Belfast repeatedly on Bloody Fridayjust 2 weeks later. After the February 1974 UK general election, Channon joined Heath's shadow cabinetas environment spokesman. His services were dispensed with by Margaret Thatcher when she became leader of the Conservative Party in February 1975.
Channon joined the Conservative delegation to the
Council of Europeand Western European Unionin 1976, and considered standing in the first UK elections to the European Parliamentin 1979, but failed to win the nomination for the North-East Essex seat.
He became Minister of State at the
Civil Service Departmentwhen the Conservatives returned to power in 1979, and joined the Privy Councilin 1980. After the department was abolished in 1981, he became Minister of the Arts. The call from 10 Downing Streetcame while he was swimming in the sea near his villa on the island of Mustique. He became Minister of State for Trade at the Department for Trade and Industryfollowing the 1983 UK general election. He took charge of the department for two short periods, after Cecil Parkinsonresigned following the Sara Keaysaffair in 1983, and while his successor, Norman Tebbit, recovered from his injuries sustained in the Brighton bombingin 1984. Channon became President of the Board of Trade and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on 24 January 1986, after Leon Brittanresigned following the Westland affair.
Channon's time as Trade and Industry Secretary was marred in several ways. A major issue of the day was a takeover by the
Guinnessgroup using an inflated stock value via third parties - the Guinness share-trading fraudduring its takeover of Distillers. As a member of the Guinness family, Channon had to stand aside from any investigation into the affair as he would have been accused of a conflict of interest. In addition, proposed sales of troubled nationalised carmarkers British Leylandto General Motorsand of Austin Roverto Fordalso fell through. Leyland Truckswas later sold to DAF. He blocked a proposed merger of Tate and Lylewith British Sugarand a takeover bid for Plesseyby GEC. Channon was later alleged to have been involved in the government's secret supply of weapons of mass destruction to Iraq. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianpolitics/story/0,,908301,00.html Britain's dirty secret] , " The Guardian" (David Leigh and John Hooper), 6 March 2003.]
In 1986, his daughter, Olivia, died from the effects of drink and drugs during a party in the
Christ Church, Oxfordrooms of Count Gottfried von Bismarck. [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-2330658,00.html Curse of the count] , " The Times", 27 August 2006.] The coronerrecorded a verdict of misadventure. Sebastian Guinnesswas jailed for simple, previous, possession of class a narcotics and Rosie Johnstonwas jailed for possession and supply of heroinfollowing Olivia's death.
He moved to become
Secretary of State for Transportin 13 June 1987. His tenure as Transport Secretary was blighted by several major transport disasters: 31 died in the King's Cross fireon 18 November 1987; 35 were killed when three trains crashed near Britain's busiest railway station in the Clapham Junction rail crashon 12 December 1988; 270 died when Pan-Am flight 103 was brought down by a bomb planted by Libyan agents over Scottish town of Lockerbie in the Lockerbie Disasteron 21 December 1988; and 44 died when a British Midlandplane crashed beside the M1 motorwayin the Kegworth air disaster. He was roughly treated in the House of Commons by Labour's transport spokeman, John Prescott, who pilloried him for underinvestment in the rail network, and for taking a family holiday to Mustiqueshortly after the Lockerbie disaster. He was replaced by Cecil Parkinsonon 24 July 1989.
Backbenches and retirement
Channon harboured hopes of becoming the fourth member of his family to become
Speaker of the House of Commons, but he withdrew from the election to replace Bernard Weatherillin 1992. He later served as chairman of the House of Commons Finance and Services Committee and chairman of the Transport Select Committee.
In 1959, he married Ingrid Guinness (née Wyndham), the former wife of his cousin
Jonathan Guinness. He inherited three stepchildren, and they had three children together: Henry, Georgia, and Olivia.
In later years, he suffered from
Alzheimer's disease. He died at his home in Brentwood, Essexin January 2007. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/essex/6311529.stm Former Tory cabinet minister dies] , BBC News, 29 January 2007] In his will he prohibited full publication of his father's diaries until 2018.
* [http://www.lastingtribute.co.uk/famousperson/channon/2561862 Paul Channon obituary and public tributes]
NAME= Channon, Henry Paul Guinness, Baron Kelvedon
SHORT DESCRIPTION= British politician and
DATE OF BIRTH= 9 October 1935
PLACE OF BIRTH=
London, United Kingdom
DATE OF DEATH=27 January 2007
PLACE OF DEATH=
Brentwood, Essex, United Kingdom
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