Peter Edward Walker


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(b Brentford, Middlesex 25 Mar. 1932; d Worcester, 23 June 2010)

British; Secretary of State for the Environment 1970–2, Trade and Industry 1972–4, Welsh Secretary 1987–90; Baron (life peer) 1992 Educated at Latymer Upper School, Walker made his fortune early in life, as cofounder of the Slater-Walker companies, dealing in property and securities. He was chairman of the National Young Conservatives from 1958 to 1960 before he entered parliament in a by-election in 1961 as Conservative MP for Worcester. When the Conservative Party entered Opposition in 1964, he was appointed to the front bench and rose rapidly within party ranks. When the party was returned to power in 1970 he was made Minister of Housing and Local Government and then, in October, Secretary of State for the Environment. He was aged 38. Two years later, he was appointed to head the other ‘super ministry’, the Department of Trade and Industry. His career took a downward turn when Margaret Thatcher was elected party leader in 1975. Walker, although a long-standing critic of the European Community, had been Edward Heath's campaign manager in 1964 and was closely identified with him. Thatcher dropped him from the front bench. In 1979, he was nonetheless brought into government (much to his own surprise), serving first as Agriculture Minister, then Energy Secretary—presiding over the government's handling of the 1984–5 miners' strike—and, finally, as Secretary of State for Wales, before retiring from government in 1990. He left the House of Commons in 1992 and took his seat in the Lords as Lord Walker of Worcester.

Though out of sympathy with Margaret Thatcher's economic policies, he got on amicably with her in government. She preferred to have him in government rather than as an effective critic on the back benches and gave him her support in his un-Thatcherite running of the Welsh Office. By the time he left office, he and Margaret Thatcher were the only ministers who had held Cabinet office in every year of Conservative government since 1970.

Subjects: Politics.

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