Sir Ian Lloyd

Tory MP who was an early ambassador for IT and 17 years ago advocated action on global warming


Ian Stewart Lloyd, politician: born Durban, South Africa 30 May 1921; Economic Adviser, Central Mining and Investment Corporation 1949-52; Director of Research, British and Commonwealth Shipping 1956-64, Economic Adviser 1956-83; MP (Conservative) for Portsmouth Langstone 1964-74, for Havant and Waterloo 1974-83, for Havant 1983-92; Kt 1986; married 1951 Frances Addison (three sons); died Chichester, West Sussex 26 September 2006.

Ian Lloyd was a long-serving Conservative MP, first for the Langstone division of Portsmouth for 10 years from 1964, and then for Havant until 1992; he was also a shipping expert. Regarded by many of his constituency party as an intellectual snob, he had to fight hard to retain his place in the House of Commons when the new constituency of Havant and Waterloo was formed, his party executive having voted to deselect him in 1971.

Although he had left his native South Africa in protest against its apartheid policies, he became a hard right-winger where policies towards Africa were concerned, but in many other respects he was forward-thinking. Highly numerate, he was known for his expertise on computers, argued the case for continued technological innovation, and was among the earliest to call for a Minister of Information Technology.

As the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Energy in three successive parliaments, he was an advocate of nuclear power, although critical of the way in which the industry went about its business, and conscious of its relatively high costs. He recognised the dangers of global warming early, claiming in July 1989 that civilisation was clinging by its fingernails to the cliff over which it had fallen, the danger was so great; and he urged the Government to take compulsory measures to limit energy consumption. While he welcomed Margaret Thatcher's conversion to the cause in November 1989, he remained critical of the inadequacy of the investment in research to combat the threat.

In addition to his other activities, he was the author of a history of Rolls-Royce from 1906 until 1945 (the three-volume Rolls-Royce, 1978) and he wrote a good deal in various journals on economics, politics and information technology.

Born in 1921, Lloyd came of a Glamorganshire gentry family, one branch of which had emigrated to South Africa. He was educated at a prep school in Johannesburg, at Michaelhouse in Natal, and at Witwatersrand University. He went on to King's College, Cambridge, skiing for the university, becoming President of the Union in 1947 and leading a debating tour of the United States. He took an MSc in 1952 and studied at the Administrative College at Henley.

A skilful pilot, he had already taken part in the Second World War, initially as an instructor, but then flying Spitfires with 7 Squadron, SAAF. After the war, while at Cambridge, he served until 1949 with the RAFVR. On his return to South Africa, he joined Torch Commando and the Liberal Party, but became a civil servant. Intense dislike of apartheid drove him out of South Africa in 1955 and he joined the British and Commonwealth Shipping Company as their Director of Research, remaining as their Economic Adviser until 1983.

Lloyd came to politics through chairing the Conservative Political Education Committee in East Hertfordshire and was selected for the safe Conservative seat of Portsmouth Langstone in March 1962. He served as its MP from 1964 until February 1974, but, when the greater part of the seat became part of the new Havant and Waterloo constituency, he had to take his selection to a full meeting of the association on two occasions, since the executive council had voted 33-8 in January 1971 to deselect him.

He won the first vote a year later by 340 to 68, but, when he was challenged by Janet Fookes in December 1972, he found himself harder pressed. In February 1973 his selection was finally endorsed by 480 votes to 336. He retained the seat until 1983 and was then selected to fight the reshaped seat of Havant. In 1989 he indicated that he would not contest the next election.

Always an active backbencher, although he had a flourishing business career, Lloyd served as secretary to the Conservative backbench shipping subcommittee, 1965-72, and chaired the Shipping and Shipbuilding Committee, 1974-77. In 1970 he unsuccessfully challenged Edward du Cann for the chairmanship of the 1922 Committee. Although an early advocate of an Atlantic Free Trade Area, he served on the Council of Europe and on the parliamentary assembly of the Western European Union, 1968-72 and remained an articulate advocate of the European ideal.

He chaired the All-Party Committee on Information Technology from 1979 to 1987 and the Select Committee on Energy from 1979 to 1989, leading the UK delegation to the OECD Conference on Energy in 1981.

Lloyd was a strong opponent of sanctions and an advocate of restoring sporting links with South Africa, although he remained a critic of its apartheid policies and welcomed the fact that they had been brought to an end. He was also an outspoken critic of Kenneth Kaunda and Robert Mugabe and there were suspicions, voiced in the House by David Nellist, that he was in the pay of the South African government. The political commentator Hugo Young memorably described him as "one of the four beknighted horsemen of the African apocalypse".

However, he was respected in the Commons for his scientific knowledge and contributions to discussions on energy policy and nuclear power. He was staunch in rebutting the idea that Chernobyl had taught the West anything about nuclear safety, and, although he had urged some cutback of the nuclear power programme in 1981, he insisted that it was safe and reliable, if costly, and that it had its part to play in meeting Britain's energy needs.

Widely read, well travelled and extremely well-informed, Lloyd could be regarded as unlucky in not catching the whips' eyes when ministerial reshuffles were in train, but his somewhat disdainful manner did him no favours, and he was inclined, as another political journalist observed, to bore on about microchips. Peter Lloyd, who knew him as a neighbouring MP, put it more fairly and with a strong sense that both country and government were the worse for not harnessing his talents:

He was good at getting hold of major subjects, usually ones on which he was right and which were important to the future of this country, but he pursued them without any regard to matters of current political concern, and he therefore came to be regarded as boffinesque and slightly detached.

There was also a tendency in Margaret Thatcher's time to regard an MP who had not made the front bench earlier as having been passed over rightly. Lloyd may well have made a more substantial contribution to the shaping of public policy as a backbencher than he was ever likely to achieve as a junior minister, but, as Peter Lloyd hints, his namesake's failure to achieve high office speaks volumes about the inability of Britain's political system to identify significant longer-term issues.

Ian Lloyd had that gift, but was not honoured for it.

John Barnes

Further to John Barnes's perceptive obituary of Ian Lloyd ­ he was, indeed, more respected and comfortable at all-party events, than among Tory colleagues ­ may I testify to his huge service to Parliament, as a holder of every office on the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee? writes Tam Dalyell.

"Ian's trouble," mused our Honorary President from 1983 to 1986, the Nobel Chemistry laureate Lord Todd, "is that he insists on being before his time. And timing is everything in politics, isn't it?"

Lloyd was almost certainly the last surviving economist who was personally taught and supervised by John Maynard Keynes. This showed ­ and did not help him with his Tory colleagues. If only he had done more to conceal how clever he was.

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