The Right Honourable Patrick Edward Kerslake, QC, LL.B (Lond), MP (b. 15 February 1921) is a British Conservative politician who currently represents the constituency of Harrow West. He is the current Home Secretary in the Grosvenor Ministry.
Patrick Kerslake was born in London to a wealthy family. His father, Edward Kerslake, was a barrister and his mother was a homemaker. In 1933, Patrick was sent to the prestigious Harrow School where he stayed until 1938. He was admitted to read Law at King's College London, but after only a year of study enrolled in the Army with the outbreak of World War Two. He was assigned to the 1st Royal Tank Regiment where he would ultimately serve in campaigns in North Africa (1941), Italy (1943) and Northern Europe (1944). During the course of the War, he was promoted to the rank of captain and commanded a platoon of tanks in Holland. While serving in Africa, Patrick made his first aquaintance with Robert Noble-Gordon, who would later become a Conservative MP and fellow Cabinet member in Margaret Thatcher's Ministry. Following the defeat of Nazi Germany in May of 1945, he was demobilised and sent back to England. He remained in the Territorial Army, ultimately being promoted to Major, until 1960.
Upon his return, he moved back to London and re-enrolled in University to complete his degree. He graduated in 1948 with his Bachelor of Laws, and went on to study at the Inns of Court. He ultimately entered Inner Temple in 1949 and was called to the bar that same year. He took up a position as a member of 10 Old Square Chambers, where he would practice criminal law from 1949 to 1976, reducing his workload only when finally appointed Minister of State for the Armed Forces in 1971.
Patrick met Mary Farquhar at King's College London in 1947. They were married in 1950, after his admission to the Bar, but due to medical complications, Mrs. Kerslake was unable to bear children.
Patrick's family had always been Conservative Party supporters, however Patrick himself only became enthralled with the party during the War years upon hearing the many speeches of Sir Winston Churchill. He joined the Conservative Party in 1945 and volunteered with the campaign to help Normal Bower sucure his re-election. In 1951 he once again volunteered to support the candidacy of Sir Albert Braithwaite in 1951 and 1955. In Sir Albert resigned prior to the 1959 General Election, and Patrick stood to replace him, securing the nomination and ultimately the seat.
He delivered his maiden speech that year on the European Monetary Agreement bill debate, where he argued that a resurgent Europe was the basis for a strong British economy, and that close economic relations were essential to British prosperity. A stable balance of payments was essential to that goal, and argued that the European Monetary Agreement provided a much more flexible platform than the European Payments Unions, which had been coneived during a period of great financial heartship for all European countries in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. These initial views of relations with Europe would ultimately harden against continued supranational economic institutionalisation, making his maiden speech an interesting anomoly in his Parliamentary career.
Consisten effort on the floor of the House of Commons was recognized in 1962 when he was made Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Housing and Local Government, Sir Keith Joseph. Sir Keith's politics significantly influenced Patrick's subsequent orientation within the Party. Upon the Conservative defeat in the 1964 General Election, Sir Keith was made Shadow spokesman for Social Security while Patrick returned to the backbenches and to the practice of law.
With the election of Edward Heath as Prime Minister in 1970, Patrick saw renewed hope for service in Government, and was disappointed to be initially passed over for a position. In 1971, Lord Balniel resigned as Minister of State for Defence, and Patrick was invited to replace him, serving under the Secretary of State for Defence, Lord Carrington. His first Government position in a policy-making role was considered a success, but ultimately stopped short in 1972 when Patrick came into conflict with Edward Heath's positions on Europe. In a speech before Parliament, Patrick argued that, "there are economic benefits to entry into the Community, but the sacrifice of British sovereignty cannot be the French answer to the German Question." His resignation as Minister of State for Defence relegated him to the backbenches for the remainder of Heath's tenure as party leader.
Along with Sir Keith Joseph, Patrick ultimately became one of the first supporters of Margaret Thatcher's leadership bid in 1975. When she secured the party's support, she would ultimately appoint Patrick Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment in 1976, a position he held until the 1979 General Election. Upon the party's electoral victory in 1979, Patrick was invited to join the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Employment.
Upon Margaret Thatcher's resignation in January 1981 and the election of Robert George Grosvenor as the next leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister, Patrick was promoted to the Home Office as Secretary of State and also made Chairman of the Conservtive Party. As Home Secretary he introduced the Youth Justice Act 1981 in Parliament. The bill received considerable debate in the Commons, as many members of the opposition attacked the bill as being too harsh, but ultimately receieved the support of the Commons.
Key Pre-1981 VotesEdit
- Voted against the Criminal Justice Act 1961 (abolition of birching)
- Voted against the Peerage Act 1963
- Voted against the Murder (Abolition of the Death Penalty) Act 1965
- Voted against the Abortion Act 1967
- Voted against the Sexual Offences Act 1967
- Voted against the Theatres Act 1968
- Voted against the Divorce (Reform) Act 1969
- Voted against the Representation of the People Act 1969
- Voted for the Equal Pay Act 1970
- Voted against the European Communities Act 1972
- Voted for the Youth Justice Act 1981
- Voted for the Housing Act 1981