John Gilbert, Baron Gilbert

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The Lord Gilbert
In the House of Lords three weeks before his death.
Minister of State for Defence Procurement
In office
1 May 1997 – 17 May 1999
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byJames Arbuthnot
Succeeded byThe Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean
Ministerial offices 1974-9
Minister of State for Defence
In office
10 September 1976 – 4 May 1979
Prime MinisterJames Callaghan
Preceded byWilliam Rodgers
Succeeded byEuan Howard
Minister of State for Transport
In office
12 June 1975 – 10 September 1976
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
James Callaghan
Preceded byFred Mulley
Succeeded byWilliam Rodgers (Secretary of State)
Financial Secretary to the Treasury
In office
8 March 1974 – 12 June 1975
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded byTerence Higgins
Succeeded byRobert Sheldon
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
16 May 1997 – 2 June 2013
Life Peerage
Member of Parliament
for Dudley East
Dudley (1970–1974)
In office
18 June 1970 – 8 April 1997
Preceded byDonald Williams
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Personal details
Born(1927-04-05)5 April 1927
Died2 June 2013(2013-06-02) (aged 86)
Political partyLabour
Alma materSt John's College, Oxford
New York University

John William Gilbert, Baron Gilbert, PC (5 April 1927 – 2 June 2013) was a British Labour Party politician.[1]

Early life[edit]

Gilbert's father was a civil servant. Baron Gilbert was educated at Merchant Taylors' School, Northwood, St John's College, Oxford, where he studied philosophy, politics and economics, and New York University, where he gained a PhD in international economics. He then worked as a chartered accountant in Canada.[2]

Parliamentary career[edit]

He contested the Parliamentary seat of Ludlow in 1966 and a by-election in Dudley in 1968 before being elected for Dudley in 1970 and (after boundary changes) Dudley East in 1974, which he represented until 1997, when it became part of the new Dudley North constituency (which was held by a new Labour MP) and Gilbert retired from the House of Commons.

In the Labour governments of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan he was Financial Secretary to the Treasury (1974–1975), Minister for Transport (1975–1976), and Minister of State for Defence (1976–1979).[3] As Minister for Transport he approved the London M25 orbital motorway project and introduced the Bill to make the wearing of seat belts compulsory. He also served on the House of Commons Defence Committee (1979–1987) and the Trade and Industry Committee (1987–1992).[4]

House of Lords[edit]

After his retirement from the House of Commons, he was created a Life Peer as Baron Gilbert, of Dudley in the County of West Midlands on 16 May 1997[5] and from 1997 to 1999 he was the Minister of State for Defence Procurement in Tony Blair's first government.[4] Always a staunch proponent of Britain's independent nuclear deterrent, he caused controversy[6] when he proposed neutron bombing the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to "prevent people from infiltrating from one side to the other."[7] In October 2012 he said in the House of Lords "The A400M [the RAF's new transport aircraft] is a complete, absolute wanking disaster, and we should be ashamed of ourselves. I have never seen such a waste of public funds in the defence field since I have been involved in it these past 40 years."[8]

Personal life[edit]

Gilbert was married twice, firstly in 1950, to Hillary, daughter of Lord Strabolgi. They had two daughters, before divorcing in 1954.

Gilbert later married Jean Ross-Skinner in 1963.

He died in 2013 at the age of 86.[9]


  1. ^ Andrew Roth (5 April 1927). "Lord Gilbert obituary | Politics". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  2. ^ Debrett's People of Today. Retrieved 3 June 2013
  3. ^ Julian Desborough et al. (compilers) (1992). The Times Guide to the House of Commons, April 1992. Times Books Ltd. ISBN 0-7230-0497-8.
  4. ^ a b Parliament UK Biographies. Retrieved 3 June 2013
  5. ^ "No. 54777". The London Gazette. 28 May 1997. p. 6247.
  6. ^ Ned Simons "Lord Gilbert Suggests Dropping A Neutron Bomb On Pakistan-Afghanistan Border", The Huffington Post, 26 November 2012
  7. ^ Hansard (Lords), 22 November 2012, col. 2000 ff
  8. ^ "Lords Hansard text for 24 October 2012 GC68". Hansard. UK Parliament. 24 October 2012.
  9. ^ Obituary: Lord Gilbert,, 3 June 2013

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Dudley
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Dudley East
Constituency abolished
Political offices
Preceded by Financial Secretary to the Treasury
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of State for Transport
Succeeded byas Secretary of State for Transport