David Howell, Baron Howell of Guildford

For other people named David Howell, see David Howell (disambiguation).
The Right Honourable
The Lord Howell of Guildford
Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
In office
14 May 2010  5 September 2012
Prime Minister David Cameron
Secretary of State for Transport
In office
14 September 1981  11 June 1983
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Norman Fowler
Succeeded by Tom King
Secretary of State for Energy
In office
4 May 1979  14 September 1981
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Tony Benn
Succeeded by Nigel Lawson
Member of Parliament
for Guildford
In office
31 March 1966  1 May 1997
Preceded by George Nugent
Succeeded by Nick St Aubyn
Personal details
Born David Arthur Russell Howell
(1936-01-18) 18 January 1936
London, United Kingdom
Political party Conservative
Alma mater King's College, Cambridge

David Arthur Russell Howell, Baron Howell of Guildford PC (born 18 January 1936), is a British Conservative politician, journalist, and economic consultant. Having been successively Secretary of State for Energy and then for Transport under Margaret Thatcher, Howell has more recently been a Minister of State in the Foreign Office from the election in 2010 until the reshuffle of 2012. Along with William Hague, Sir George Young and Kenneth Clarke, he is one of the few Cabinet ministers from the 1979–97 governments who still holds high office in the party, being its deputy leader in the House of Lords. His daughter, Frances, is married to the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Conservative MP George Osborne.[1]


Howell is the son of Colonel Arthur Howard Eckford Howell, and grandson of Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Alfred Russell Howell), and his wife (married 9 April 1931) Beryl Stuart Bowater, daughter of Sir Frank Henry Bowater, 1st Baronet and Ethel Anita Fryar. Howell's father, an army officer with the Royal Artillery for many years lived at 5 Headfort Place, London. He was decorated with the awards of the Territorial Decoration (TD) and Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO and bar).

Early life

Howell was educated at Eton College, before entering King's College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1959 with a 1st Class Master of Arts in Economics. He went to work in HM Treasury joining the Treasury Economic Section from 1959 to 1960. In 1960 he wrote the book Principles to Practice, published jointly, and spent four years as a journalist, leader writer and special correspondent on The Daily Telegraph. He succeeded Geoffrey Howe as editor of Crossbow (the journal of the Bow Group) from 1962 to 1964 before he unsuccessfully contested the constituency of Dudley in the 1964 general election.[1][2] He then became Director of the Conservative Political Centre between 1964 and 1966 writing and publishing the pamphlet The Conservative Opportunity.

Political career

Two years later, in 1966, he was elected MP for the safe seat of Guildford in Surrey, for the Conservative Party, a seat he held until retiring at the 1997 general election. On 6 June 1997 he was made a life peer as Baron Howell of Guildford, of Penton Mewsey, in the County of Hampshire.[1][3]

Howell, a junior minister in the Edward Heath Government (1970–74), served as Lord Commissioner of Treasury between 1970 and 1971 and Parliamentary Secretary for the Civil Service Department between 1970 and 1972, and played a key role in the establishment of the Central Policy Review Staff, a "central capability" policy unit based in the Cabinet Office. He also held the offices of Under-Secretary for Employment (1971–72), Under-Secretary for Northern Ireland (1972), Minister of State for Northern Ireland (1972–74) and Minister of State for Energy (1974).

When Margaret Thatcher was elected in 1979, she made Howell her first Secretary of State for Energy and then moved him to Transport in the reshuffle of September 1981 and until 1983. During that time he wrote the book Freedom and Capital, published 1981. In 1979 he was also sworn into the Privy Council. He then wrote the book Blind Victory: a study in income, wealth and power, published 1986. In 1987 he became chairman of the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs.[1] He later wrote the book The Edge of Now: new questions for democracy in the network age, published in 2000.In 2007 he published ‘Out of the Energy Labyrinth’ (with Carole Nakhle) and in 2013 ‘Old Links and New Ties: Power and Persuasion in the Age of Networks’,mainly on the Commonwealth. In 2016 he published ‘Empires in Collision; the green versus black struggle for our energy future’.

From 2005 to 2014 he was President ‘of the British Institute of Energy Economics, and chairman of the Windsor Energy Group since 2003.[4] He was decorated with the award of Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure of Japan in 2001.

In the House of Lords, he was Deputy Leader of the Opposition from 2005 to 2010. On the election of the Coalition government he was quickly recommended to Foreign Secretary by the Prime Minister as an enthusiastic advocate of HS2, the only conservative in the government with the relevant ministerial experience. In September 2012 In the September 2012 reshuffle, having served two years as initially agreed, he was asked by the Prime Minister to stand down to provide a Foreign Office place for Baroness Warsi. ‘ Lord Howell was Opposition Spokesperson for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from 2000 to 2010. He is now Chairman of the new House of Lords International relations Committee’.[5] Lord Howell is also Chairman of The Commonwealth Societies Association.[6] Howell has long been an active supporter of the Commonwealth lobbying its many members from the business council, secretariat, and Eminent Persons Group. The Commonwealth with strong connections to Africa and African nations economic groups seeks to promote Britain's role as a friend and trading partner of countries across the region, and to alleviate poverty-stricken areas. On 29 September 2011 Lord Howell chaired and important meeting of the Eminent Persons Group at the Royal Commonwealth Institute in London with Heads of Government and State being present. Britain took an active part in coming to the rescue in responding to Darfur Crisis in which thousands were victims in the desert civil war of pestilence, famine and destitution.[7] Lord Howell has been a powerful advocate for the lawless nation of Zimbabwe to return to the Commonwealth when he declared he "was living for the day" he revealed the deep undercurrents of feelings within the UK which 'will actively support human rights defenders when fighting for their rights in Commonwealth countries'.[8] He has likewise encouraged the application of the new State of South Sudan to join the Commonwealth of Nations when they are fit for purpose.[8]

From the election of May 2010 until the reshuffle of 2012, Lord Howell served as Minister of State in the Foreign Office in David Cameron's government, under William Hague as Foreign Secretary. From September 2012 to April 2013, he was personal adviser to the Foreign Secretary on Energy and Resource Security.[5] Lord Howell has never lobbied on behalf of the IAEA or performed any role related to it at any time. He had nothing to do with the State Visit of the Chinese Chairman or with the deal to build a nuclear power station. He has, however, described the French/Chinese nuclear Hinkley Point C deal as ‘one of the worst deals ever for the British consumer’.(FDI).[9]

In November 2012, Greenpeace released secret film of an interview with Lord Howell about the advantages of natural gas over wind power, in which he said that David Cameron "is not familiar with these issues, doesn't understand them", but that George Osborne, his son-in-law, "is of course getting this message and is putting pressure on".[10]

In May 2013, he was appointed president of the Energy Industries Council.[11] In July 2013, he said, in a Lords' discussion on fracking, "there are large, uninhabited and desolate areas, certainly in parts of the north-east, where there is plenty of room for fracking, well away from anybody's residence, and where it could be conducted without any threat to the rural environment".[12] After much adverse reaction,[13] he apologised, said he been totally misunderstood, had never said the north was ‘ desolate’ as misreported by some papers and that he was thinking of drilling preferably in areas left derelict by the Industrial Revolution in both the north east and north west which needed repair and new investment[14] He went on to say he wanted the derricks in "unloved places".

Marriage and issue

Lord Howell married in 1967 Cary Davina Wallace, daughter of David John Wallace (born 1914, killed in action, World War II, Greece, 1944, son of Euan Wallace by first wife Idina Sackville) and wife (m. 1939) Joan Prudence Magor (who later remarried on 3 March 1948 Gerald Frederick Walter de Winton), and had three children:

Styles of address

Ministerial career

Table to show Ministerial posts held
Post Date
Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (International Energy Policy) May 2010 - Sep 2012
Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of LordsJun 2005 - May 2010
Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) Jul 2000 - May 2010
Secretary of State for Energy May 1979 - Sep 1981
Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills) Jul 1977 - May 1979
Minister of State (Department of Energy) Jan 1974 - Mar 1974
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office)Mar 1972 - Nov 1972
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Employment)Jan 1971 - Mar 1972
Lord Commissioner (HM Treasury) (Whip) Jun 1970 - Jan 1971
Parliamentary Secretary (Civil Service Department)Jun 1970 - Mar 1972[14]
Table to show Select Committee membership
Committee House Date
Soft Power Committee Lords May 2013 - Mar 2014
Procedure Committee (L) LordsJun 2005 - Nov 2006
EU Sub-Committee C LordsDec 1999 - Nov 2000
European Union Committee (L) LordsDec 1998 - Nov 2000
EU Sub-Committee B LordsNov 1998 - Nov 1999
Liaison Committee (Commons) CommonsJun 1987 - Mar 1997
Foreign Affairs Committee CommonsFeb 1986 - Mar 1997



Wikimedia Commons has media related to David Howell (politician).
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
George Nugent
Member of Parliament for Guildford
Succeeded by
Nick St Aubyn
Political offices
Preceded by
Tony Benn
Secretary of State for Energy
Succeeded by
Nigel Lawson
Preceded by
Norman Fowler
Secretary of State for Transport
Succeeded by
Tom King
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