Peter Tapsell (British politician)

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Peter Tapsell (British politician) : biography

1 February 1930 –

Sir Peter Hannay Bailey Tapsell (born 1 February 1930) is a British Conservative Party politician and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Louth and Horncastle. He has served in the House of Commons continuously since 1966 and was also previously an MP from 1959 to 1964. He has been the Father of the House since the 2010 general election.

Political career

Tapsell was personal assistant to Sir Anthony Eden during the 1955 general election. He contested the Wednesbury by-election in 1957, losing to the Labour Party’s John Stonehouse. He was Chairman of the Coningsby Club from 1957 until 1958.

He first entered Parliament in the 1959 general election, representing Nottingham West, and is the Conservatives’ longest-serving MP albeit with a break in service (1964 to 1966). He was from 2005 the only MP of any party first elected in the 1950s, but the two-year gap in his parliamentary service prevented him from being Father of the House until Alan Williams retired in 2010.

After losing his seat at the 1964 general election, he was selected for Horncastle, representing that seat from 1966 to 1983. In 1983, boundary changes moved Tapsell to East Lindsey, which he represented until 1997 when boundary changes moved him to his present constituency. Tapsell was knighted in 1985.

Tapsell is known for his forthright views and is no stranger to controversy. In May 2001, he made headlines during the UK general election campaign when comparing German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s vision of Europe to Adolf Hitler’s: "We may not have studied Hitler’s Mein Kampf in time but, by heaven, there is no excuse for us not studying the Schröder plan now"., CNN, 12 May 2001

On 9 November 2005 he was the only Conservative MP, and one of only two non-Labour MPs, to vote in favour of a proposal to allow police to detain terror suspects for up to 90 days without charge.

In July 2006, he said that Israeli action in Lebanon was "gravely reminiscent of the Nazi atrocity on the Jewish quarter of Warsaw"., The Independent 26 July 2006 He is opposed to the war in Afghanistan.

Guardian sketch writer Simon Hoggart frequently lavishes praise on Sir Peter, describing him as "the grandest of grandees" (July 2008)Simon Hoggart , The Guardian, 3 July 2008 that when in the Chamber, Tapsell rises "to speak, or rather to intone superbly" (January 2008)Simon Hoggart , The Guardian, 25 January 2008 and that "like the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone Park, [he] erupts at irregular but predictable intervals" (July 2009).Simon Hoggart , The Guardian, 13 July 2009

In June 2011, it was announced Tapsell would be appointed as a Privy Counsellor in the 2011 Birthday Honours. On 13 July 2011, he was sworn of Council.

In March 2012, Tapsell was reported as being one of the Conservative MPs to have spoken critically of Party Co-Chairman Sayeeda Warsi at a meeting of the 1922 Committee, following Warsi’s handling of Roger Helmer MEP’s defection to UKIP.

Personal life

Tapsell married the Hon Cecilia Hawke, third daughter of the 9th Baron Hawke in 1963, with whom he had a son. They divorced in 1971. He subsequently married Gabrielle Mahieu in 1974.

Early life and education

Tapsell was born in Hove. He was educated at Tonbridge School, served in the Royal Sussex Regiment from 1948 to 1950, and continued his education at Merton College, Oxford, gaining an MA in Modern History in 1953, then a Diploma in Economics in 1954, during which time he was also Librarian of the Oxford Union (a senior office), and was a member of the Oxford University Labour Club during his time at Oxford, alongside Gerald Kaufman.