Reg Prentice

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(Redirected from Reginald Ernest Prentice)

The Lord Prentice
Frontbench portfolios 1964–1981
Minister of State for Social Security
In office
7 May 1979 – 5 January 1981
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byAlf Morris
Succeeded byHugh Rossi
Minister of State for Overseas Development
In office
10 June 1975 – 21 December 1976
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
James Callaghan
Preceded byJudith Hart
Succeeded byFrank Judd
In office
29 August 1967 – 6 October 1969
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded byArthur Bottomley
Succeeded byJudith Hart
Secretary of State for Education and Science
In office
5 March 1974 – 10 June 1975
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded byMargaret Thatcher
Succeeded byFred Mulley
Shadow Secretary of State for Employment
In office
19 April 1972 – 5 March 1974
LeaderHarold Wilson
Preceded byJames Callaghan
Succeeded byWilliam Whitelaw
Minister of State for Public Buildings and Works
In office
6 April 1966 – 29 August 1967
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded byCharles Pannell
Succeeded byBob Mellish
Minister of State for Education and Science
In office
20 October 1964 – 6 April 1966
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded byPeter Legh
Succeeded byGoronwy Roberts
Member of Parliament
for Daventry
In office
3 May 1979 – 18 May 1987
Preceded byArthur Jones
Succeeded byTim Boswell
Member of Parliament
for Newham North East
East Ham North (1957–1974)
In office
31 May 1957 – 7 April 1979
Preceded byPercy Daines
Succeeded byRon Leighton
Personal details
Reginald Ernest Prentice

(1923-07-16)16 July 1923
Died18 January 2001(2001-01-18) (aged 77)
Mildenhall, Wiltshire
Political partyConservative (1977–2001)
Other political
Labour (before 1977)
Alma materLondon School of Economics

Reginald Ernest Prentice, Baron Prentice, PC (16 July 1923 – 18 January 2001)[1] was a British politician who held ministerial office in both Labour and Conservative Party governments. He was the most senior Labour figure ever to defect to the Conservative Party.

Education and war service[edit]

Reg Prentice was born in Croydon, Surrey, and educated at Whitgift School in South Croydon, then at the London School of Economics. He served in Austria and Italy during World War II.

Early politics[edit]

Prentice joined the staff of the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) in 1950.

He was a councillor for Whitehorse Manor in the then-County Borough of Croydon from 1949, having stood unsuccessfully in Thornton Heath ward in 1947. He served on the Housing, Libraries, Planning & Development, Water and Reconstruction Committees.

He first stood, unsuccessfully, for parliament in Croydon North in 1950 and 1951, then Streatham in 1955. As Labour Member of Parliament from 1957 for East Ham North, later Newham North East, he was a minister of state in Harold Wilson's first government at Education and Science (1964–66), then as Minister of Public Buildings and Works (1966–67), and finally was put in charge of the still-new Ministry of Overseas Development (1967–69).

In the 1971 Shadow Cabinet election, Prentice just missed out on being elected, finishing in 13th place in the ballot for 12 available places. However in April 1972 the resignations from the shadow cabinet of Harold Lever and George Thomson saw Prentice and 14th placed candidate John Silkin join the body in their place. At the next shadow cabinet election, Prentice topped the poll and he was again re-elected in 1973, this time finishing in third place.[2]

When Labour regained power, he was Secretary of State for Education and Science between 1974 and 1975, subsequently becoming Minister for Overseas Development with a seat in the cabinet until 1976.

In 1975, after his Constituency Labour Party had been infiltrated by Trotskyist Militants, he was deselected.[3][4] He appealed unsuccessfully from the rostrum of the Labour Party Conference for the National Executive Committee to overturn their endorsement of his deselection.[3]

Switch of party[edit]

In 1977, Prentice left the Labour Party after a series of battles with left-wing constituency activists[3] and joined the Conservative Party.

He was elected as a Conservative Member of Parliament for Daventry in the 1979 general election. Lady Hesketh was instrumental in him standing for Daventry.[5] He was a Minister of State at the Department of Health and Social Security in Margaret Thatcher's government between 1979 and 1981. He left the government owing to ill health.[3] He was knighted in 1987,[6] the year he stepped down as an MP. On 30 January 1992, he was created Life Peer as Baron Prentice, of Daventry in the County of Northamptonshire.[7]

In the last few years before his death at age 77, he was President of the Devizes Conservative Association.

Death and legacy[edit]

Prentice died at his home in Mildenhall, Wiltshire.[1] His daughter, Christine, followed her father as a London Borough of Croydon councillor for Coulsdon East ward from 1992 to 1998.

A biography, which provides an in-depth account of Prentice's party-political transition during the 1970s, was published in 2015: Geoff Horn, Crossing the floor: Reg Prentice and the crisis of British social democracy.[4]



  1. ^ a b "Prentice, Reginald Ernest [Reg], Baron Prentice". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/75257. Retrieved 16 November 2021. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ Mortimer, Roger; Blick, Andrew (2018). Butler's British Political Facts. London: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 255–256. ISBN 978-1-137-56708-6.
  3. ^ a b c d White, Michael (22 January 2001). "Lord Prentice of Daventry". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 May 2012.
  4. ^ a b Horn, Geoff (December 2015). Crossing the floor: Reg Prentice and the crisis of British social democracy (paperback ed.). Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-9991-5. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
  5. ^ "The Dowager Lady Hesketh". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. 12 April 2006. Retrieved 18 March 2012.(subscription required)
  6. ^ "No. 51164". The London Gazette. 29 December 1987. p. 15767.
  7. ^ "No. 52824". The London Gazette. 4 February 1992. p. 1851.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for East Ham North
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Newham North East
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Daventry
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Minister of State for Public Buildings and Works
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of State for Overseas Development
Succeeded by
Preceded by Secretary of State for Education and Science
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of State for Overseas Development
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of State for Social Security (Minister for the Disabled)
Succeeded by