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Bernard Weatherill

From Academic Kids

Bruce Bernard Weatherill, Baron Weatherill, PC, DL, (born 25 November 1920 in Guildford, Surrey to Bernard Bruce Weatherill (1883 - 1962) and Annie Gertrude Weatherill (nee Creak) (1886 - 1966)) is a politician in the United Kingdom. He married Lyn Eatwell (1928 - ) in 1949. Children are sons Bernard R., QC (born 1951) and H. Bruce (born 1953) and daughter Virginia (born 1955). Although his given names do not support it, with his twin sister being named Jill it was inevitable that he has always been called "Jack".

Contents

Tailor

Apprenticed at age 17 as a tailor to the family firm Bernard Weatherill Ltd., Sporting Tailors of Saville Row, he later became Director (1948), then Managing Director (1958), then Chairman (1967) of the firm. After it merged with Kilgour French & Stanbury Ltd., Tailors in 1969, he became Chairman of the combined firms. He resumed his role with the company after his retirement from the House of Commons in 1992, serving as President until the firm was acquired by others in 2003. Some of the clothes he designed (http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/microsites/1211_sixties/od_wetherill_page.htm) are preserved in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

He became a Freeman of the City of London in 1949, and of the Borough of Croydon in 1983.

He is a member of three City of London Livery Companies: the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors, the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, and the Worshipful Company of Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers.

Soldier

Enlisting as an Army Private a few days after the start of World War II, Weatherill was commissioned as an officer after only one year, and reached the rank of Captain three years after that. Attached to an Indian regiment, he was posted to Burma. A year after the end of the war, he was discharged, having served for seven years.

Politician

He was elected a Member of Parliament on 15 October 1964 for Croydon North East as a Conservative. He became a party whip only three years later, and chief deputy whip six years after that. He was reelected seven times to the same parliamentary seat until his retirement in 1992.

He served as the 154th Speaker of the House of Commons from 1983 to 1992. As speaker at the time television cameras were first allowed to cover proceedings in the House of Commons, he became widely known throughout the English-speaking world due to the regular international rebroadcasts of Prime Minister's Question Time. He is the last speaker to wear a wig while in the chair. He commented that the wig is a wonderful device that allows the speaker to pretend not to hear some things. He presided over the House with wit and humour, always honouring the traditions of the house and protecting the rights of backbenchers and members of the opposition parties. He also enforced the rights of Parliament to be publicly told of government policies (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3321291.stm) before they were announced to the press or elsewhere. A portrait by Robin-Lee Hall (http://www.commissionaportrait.com/artistsportfolio.asp?id=33&page=1) of Speaker Weatherill hangs in Portcullis House.

He stood down in 1992, and was made a life peer that same year, as Baron Weatherill, of North East Croydon in the London Borough of Croydon, but only after a vote (http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm199293/cmhansrd/1992-05-19/Debate-1.html) forced by 17 left-wing members of Parliament who objected to the terms of the motion calling for Weatherill to receive a "Royal Favour". He sits in the House of Lords as a crossbencher. In 1993 he was elected alternate convenor of the crossbenchers, and in 1995 became convenor (until 1999). In the House of Lords he made a major contribution to the House of Lords Act 1999 by stitching together the compromise that allowed a limited number of hereditary peers to remain as members.

Following his mother's advice, he always carries his tailoring thimble in his pocket as a reminder of his trade origins and the need for humility, no matter how high one rises. He has said that he desires his epitaph to be "He always kept his word." He is a vegetarian.

Other Offices and Honours

From October 1971 to April 1973, Weatherill was Vice-Chamberlain of Her Majesty's Household. This office is usually held by a Government whip, as Weatherill then was. As Vice-Chamberlain, he wrote a letter (hand-carried by messenger, or sent by telegram) directly to the Queen at the end of each day the House of Commons met, describing the debates, reactions, and political gossip of the day. His letters (http://library.kent.ac.uk/library/special/html/specoll/weavcroy.htm) are believed to have been more entertaining to the Queen than the debates themselves.

He became a member of the Privy Council in 1980.

In 1989 he succeeded the Lord Blake as High Bailiff and Searcher of the Sanctuary of Westminster Abbey. He resigned both of those offices (http://wabbey-affairs.tripod.com/ST5.htm) at the end of 1998 in protest of the manner in which the Dean and Chapter dealt with terminating the employment of the organist. He was succeeded by Roy Strong.

In 1994 he was named a Deputy Lieutenant of Kent.

He was Vice-Chancellor of the British charitable Order of St John of Jerusalem from 1983 through 2000, and has been a knight thereof since 1992.

He was decorated with the Hilal-i-Pakistan (Crescent of Pakistan, second class) by the government of Pakistan in 1993.

Quotes

"The penalty that good men pay for failing to participate in public affairs is to be governed by others worse than themselves."

"A good speech will not be remembered; a bad one will never be forgotten -- or forgiven."

References

  • Weatherill Papers (http://library.kent.ac.uk/library/special/html/specoll/weaintro.htm)


Preceded by:
George Thomas
Speaker of the House of Commons
1983–1992
Succeeded by:
Betty Boothroyd

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