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Thomas, George, Lord Tonypandy
1909-1997

Labour MP and Speaker of the House, born on 29 January 1909 into a humble home in Port Talbot, one of a family of five. Soon afterwards the family moved to Tonypandy in the Rhondda Valley. His father abandoned the family during World War I. His mother was a very remarkable woman and much involved in the Labour Movement. She was the centre of George's affections. Her father had laid the foundations of Methodism in Tonypandy. From early days George was associated with the Tonypandy Central Hall and learned some of his parliamentary skills in the Men's Parliament there. After training at University College, Southampton he became a teacher and a local preacher and became politically active through the National Union of Teachers.

He was elected as Labour MP for Cardiff West in 1945 and was Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office and then Minister of State at the Welsh Office. In that capacity he was deeply involved with the Aberfan disaster in 1966. In 1967 he became Minister of State at the commonwealth Office and in 1968 Secretary of State for Wales, in which office he was responsible for arranging the investiture of the Prince of Wales and also read the lesson at the Prince's wedding. In 1976 he was elected Speaker of the House and became a widely recognized public figure. On retirement in 1983 he entered the House of Lords. He laid bare the heart of his own political creed in his Beckly Lecture on 'The Christian Heritage in Politics'. In the service of Methodism he has been Vice-President of the Conference (1960), Treasurer of the Department of Christian Citizenship and President of NCH. He published his memoirs in 1985 and died on 22 September 1997.

Quotations

'I am in politics because I believe that this is a field where a man's gifts can be fully used to serve his generation. My profound belief in the worth of every individual is matched by my deep conviction that politics are a means of creating a finer society where every individual has a chance to develop his gifts.'

George Thomas, 'The Christian Heritage in Politics' (Beckly Lecture)

Sources

  • Methodist Recorder, 7 July 1960; 25 Sept. 1997
  • Conference Handbook, 1960
  • Ramon Hunston, Order! Order! A biography of ... George Thomas (Basingstoke, 1981)
  • Leo Abse, 'The Speaker's Secret', in Sunday Times, 18 March 2001
  • E.H. Robertson, George: a biography of Viscount Tonypandy (1992)
  • Catherine M. Swift, George Thomas, the Rt. Hon. Viscount Tonypandy (1990)
  • Paul O'Leary, 'The Problems of Political Biography: The Lives of George

Thomas, Viscount Tonypandy (1909-1997)' in Transactions of the Honorable Society of Cymmrodorion, vol 14 (2007)

  • Oxford DNB

Entry written by: KGG
Category: Person

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