(b. Doncaster, 4 July 1920; d. Suffolk, 16 Dec 2005) British; Chancellor of the Exchequer 1970 –4; Baron (life peer) 1974 Barber was educated at Retford Grammar School and Oxford. As a prisoner of war from 1942 to 1945 (before escaping) he studied for a law degree. He was called to the Inner Temple in 1948 but was intent on a political career. He entered the House of Commons, at the age of 31, as Conservative MP for the marginal seat of Doncaster and held the seat from 1951 until 1964. He returned to the House of Commons at a by-election in 1965 as member for the safe seat of Altrincham and Sale.
His rise was steady but not spectacular. He served as a whip from 1955 to 1958 and then spent a year as the parliamentary private secretary (PPS) to Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. He was Economic Secretary, and then Financial Secretary, to the Treasury in the remaining years of the Macmillan government. He served in the Cabinet as Minister of Health in the year-long Douglas-Home government.
He was appointed chairman of the Conservative Party by Edward Heath in 1967. When the party was returned to power in June 1970, Heath created him Lord Privy Seal in order to conduct the negotiations for British membership of the European Community. The sudden death of Iain Macleod the following month resulted in his unexpected elevation to the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer. He served in 11 Downing Street for the rest of the parliament, presiding over a difficult economic situation and introducing a statutory pay and prices policy in 1972. He left the House of Commons at the end of the short 1974 parliament in order to become chairman of the Standard Chartered Bank.
An honourable and competent man, he was overshadowed by the Prime Minister he served from 1970 to 1974 and may come to be remembered as much for having a future Prime Minister—John Major—work for him at Standard Chartered Bank as for his own achievements in public office.
From A Dictionary of Political Biography in Oxford Reference.