Merlyn Rees

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Merlyn Rees, later Merlyn Merlyn-Rees, Baron Merlyn-Rees, PC (18 December 1920 – 5 January 2006) was a British Labour party Member of Parliament from 1963 until 1992, having served as Home Secretary.


Early life

Born in Cilfynydd, near Pontypridd, Glamorgan, Wales, and educated at Harrow Weald Grammar School, Harrow, England and Goldsmiths College, London where he was president of the Students' union from 1939 to 1941. He served in the RAF the University of Nottingham Air Squadron during World War II, becoming a squadron leader at 25. He attended the London School of Economics where he received BSc(Econ) and MSc(Econ). He was appointed schoolmaster at his old school in Harrow in 1949, teaching economics and history. He taught for eleven years, during which time he was three times an unsuccessful parliamentary candidate for Harrow East. He was a member of the Institute of Education at the University of London from 1959 to 1962.

Member of Parliament

At a by-election in 1963, he stood successfully as the Labour candidate for Leeds South, succeeding Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell, who had died in office. He held the seat until he stepped down from the House of Commons at the 1992 general election. The constituency was renamed as Morley and Leeds South in 1983. He was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from March 1974 until September 1976, when he was appointed Home Secretary. For two years before the Labour government came to power in 1974 he had been Labour Party spokesman on Northern Ireland. Rees wrote of his views on Northern Ireland in: Northern Ireland: a Personal Perspective (Methuen, London, 1985 ISBN 0-413-52590-2).

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