skip to main content
Show Results with:

Sir Kenneth Carlisle interviewed by John Barry

Carlisle, Kenneth, 1941- (speaker, male; interviewee; Former MP)


Check library holdings

  • Title:
    Sir Kenneth Carlisle interviewed by John Barry
  • Contributor: Carlisle, Kenneth, 1941-; Barry, John, 1947-
  • Other Titles:
    Collection title: The History of Parliament Oral History Project

  • Rights: History of Parliament Trust
  • Place Name: Interviewee's home, Bury St Edmunds
  • Description:
    Track 1: I was born in 1941 and my parents were married in 1938 and lived in London. Because of the bombing in London my mother who already had one child, my elder sister, had to leave London. When she was having myself and my twin sister she went to live in her family home which was in north Wales; a rather wonderful garden called Bodnant which my grandfather had had created. So I was born in North Wales. [So you’re Welsh?]. Partly Welsh, yes, born in Wales. My mother was born McLaren and some of the Carlisles were Scottish. I’ve got English blood and my father’s mother was of German stock. So like many Englishmen it’s a real mongrel. [Family life?] We had a family connection with a firm called Leibigs which made the Oxo Cube and Fray Bentos. After leaving university he [my father] joined Leibigs. By the time I was born he had become a director, but he was also in the Territorial Army with the Rifle Brigade. So at the outbreak of war he was called up to the Rifle Brigade and stayed with them until the end of the war and he was sent off to North Africa just before Alamein and went through the whole of that campaign, as a junior officer, a captain and a major. So he left my mother in May 1942 and didn’t return for three years. It was all very tough for all of them in those days. I didn’t know him until he came back although he wrote to my mother twice a week and my mother was very clever in making him really a part of our lives. So we always knew about him. But I suppose the truth is that he was this strange man when he came back, although my parents got on very well. It was very tough for them but they seemed to carry on as they left off. [03:26] I had this blissful first five years being bought up in Bodnant, which was this wonderful place with a garden one could run around. Then I remember, it was probably in early 1946, we all returned to our house in London which still had bomb damage and I started going to school in London and then I went to a prep school called Lockers Park in Hemel Hempstead. From there I went to Harrow School where my father and grandfather had been; the first Carlisle went to school there in 1860. From that point of view it was quite a traditional upbringing. I was rather a conformist. I got on reasonably well with my work also I was quite good at games; so I was a natural ordinary fit. [Happy boarding?] Yes, I was always quite resilient and tough. I played soccer and rugby and cricket and I was in quite a few of the teams. [05:00] No particular interest in politics at school, although politics had always been in the background. My mother’s family had been political in that my great, great grandfather Duncan Mclaren had come down as a boy of twelve or thirteen and worked in Edinburgh and got into labour politics in Edinburgh. He was a radical and in his early sixties he was elected as Member of Parliament for Edinburgh and he’d married Priscilla Bright who was John Bright’s sister. John Bright was a great Victorian, in a way, statesman; a rebel in a way, a Quaker. So that sort of Quaker Liberal background was always around. My great grandfather was a Liberal MP and so was my grandfather, he became a Liberal MP but was also an industrialist. My great grandmother had married this Victorian entrepreneur called Henry Pochin. He was an industrial chemist who had a couple of good inventions and having made some money he invested in engineering and steel and shipbuilding. So there was a Quaker Liberal background but also an industrial base in my mother’s family. [07:00] [You moved on from Harrow to Oxford, your father’s college?] Yes I moved from Harrow to Magdalene, I’m afraid so. I wouldn’t get into Oxford now but I did pass the exams in my own right and I read History. It was quite difficult because my father’s side had a business, Liebigs, and there was always an idea that I might want to go into it, so I found it very difficult to know what to do. So having taken my degree in History I decided to delay it a bit and read for the Bar. In those days if you’d been to university it took fifteen months to qualify as a barrister and then I did my pupillage. Then I decided to join Leibigs. Although we didn’t own it, we didn’t have many shares, we’d always been involved in the management of it. It was still the old sort of world when you could do that. In retrospect that was a mistake because by then my father was chairman and they didn’t really know what to do with me. I tried to pressure them to give me authority and responsibility and challenges and got them to send me to the London Business School for a year but in the end I got bored. I felt I just couldn’t make my way there so after eight years when I think I was 32 I decided to leave. [09:15] My father was disappointed but very kindly suggested that I might come and run the farm here. So I worked on a friend’s farm outside Cambridge for about nine months, Anthony Pemberton’s Trumpington Farms. I learnt how to drive tractors and what to do. Then I came here and started to run the farm here. The farm is just under 1,000 acres of farming land. It’s got woods and everything. In those days it was big enough to stand on its own but now we have a contractor who runs our farm and another 2,000 acres. He can afford the machinery and does it just with himself and two other men. [10:25] [Back to university, any politics there?] No, not at all; although initially I went to the Union, I became a member but never spoke in it. What got me interested, it had always been in the background, was the 1960s. I had just started with Liebigs with the Harold Wilson government and there was a great turmoil and things didn’t go well in the late 60s and that got me interested. I thought this is something I might like to do and you can do various things to get into politics. You have to get your feet on the ground. The first real work I did was in the 1970 election and I went up every day to canvas in Hampstead which was held by the Labour party, and I canvassed for our candidate called Geoffrey Finsberg. He actually just got in which was a rather surprising result in 1970. When I got increasingly disillusioned with Liebigs and the work there I thought I might like to go into politics. [12:14] So we had the base here at Wyken and I joined the local association and I discovered they didn’t have a branch in our village of Stanton. So I created a branch in Stanton and became chairman. We held two events a year, rather pathetic events to try and raise money- garden parties, always freezing or raining. In those days local [political] parties were quite energetic and active and people were quite prepared to take a part. There was something called the Conservative Political Centre which had a discussion every two months. They sent out a pamphlet and the idea was to get the local party to discuss it and send the reports back to Central Office. We didn’t have a CPC in the Bury St Edmunds constituency so I started that and became chairman of the CPC. Then I got to know our local Member Eldon Griffiths quite well and helped him considerably; went around with him in the two 1974 elections. Just after that I was selected to be on the candidates list which was another step you had to take. I also became a vice-chairman of the Conservative association in Bury St Edmunds. So there was a logical series of steps. [14:25] I got interested in the environment, being wildlife and all that when I was about 25 or 26. Partly because I was so bored with what I was doing at Leibings I started looking at these wonderful flowers we have In London and the woods we have on the estate so I went to evening classes in London to the Morley College for botany and wildflower classes to learn how to look at a flower and what its parts are and then the families. Here during the weekend trying to collect flowers, press them and find out precisely what. Over a period of four or five years you do get the ability to spot a flower. You get to know the families and different types of species within that family. Things like grasses are a little more complicated but if you get down to it and study it you find out about them. So that’s really what got me interested in the first steps of wildlife. We had a bit of a shoot here and that’s connected with wildlife and it was subsequent to finding out about wildlife that I then got interested in gardening. My parents really lived in London and they came here for the weekend and I lived in a little cottage and the garden to a certain extent was being neglected. So my father who was always very generous to me was quite happy for me to start taking part in the garden and starting to develop it. It’s really by doing that that you really get to know garden plants by having the opportunity to do it. When I got into Parliament my interest in the environment was one of the things that followed.

    Track 1 [cont.] [17:15] I got on the short list in 1976 and you’re sent a list. There were two elections in 74 and Labour hardly had a majority and we were expecting a swift election. So everybody was looking in 75 and 76 for the candidates for the next election. You apply for those [constituencies] you might want to represent. I really decided I’ve got to fight a losing constituency so that then I would get a chance of getting a good one in Suffolk. I put in for a lot of constituencies, none completely hopeless, within about 100 miles or two and a half hours of Wyken. It’s rather like taking an exam, you get to know how. In those days you had to make a speech to the selection committee if you were called up at all and then you had to answer questions. Then you would go on to the final round. It’s more difficult now, more onerous. I wasn’t selected for all the ones that I applied to but I was to quite a number because my CV with business, business school, barrister, farming was reasonably attractive. I applied for hopeless ones, I was seen at Eye in Suffolk and Grantham in Lincolnshire which are very strong Conservative and I wouldn’t stand a chance. Then I came second in Nottingham East, I applied for one at Scunthorpe, one at Hereford and Norwich North constituency. Those were the ones where I was seen. Lincoln was the eighth interview I went to. Lincoln, because it had always been Labour since the war, none of the stars applied for it. Only about twenty people applied because they thought there was no chance of getting Lincoln. [20:10] By then I’d got to know the pattern, how to answer questions and deal with things like ‘what are you going to do about capital punishment’ and all that. The sitting member was Margaret Jackson, Margaret Beckett, and it had gone through a bit of turmoil because it had been Dick Taverne’s constituency. He was pro-Europe and his very left-wing Labour party wasn’t and in 1972 he resigned from the Labour party and fought a by-election and became an Independent. He won his by-election massively and the Conservatives came third. In the first 1974 election in February he won over the Labour candidate by about 600 votes and in October Margaret Beckett, Margaret Jackson as was, beat him by 600 votes and the Conservative came third. I felt very privileged in the end to be in Lincoln. In the 1979 election I felt there was a great surge towards Conservatism and the lovely thing about Lincoln, I came from a pretty privileged background, but Lincoln is very down to earth and basic. There’s a smell of the North there. People who make a lot of money tend to go and live in the countryside outside. It’s an engineering city, a third of the houses are council houses, a third of it Victorian terraced houses. So it’s a constituency that has all the real problems that England, Britain, confronted. There was a great surge towards us partly because people wanted to buy their own council housing and that was very popular. Also there must have been about 15,000 people who worked in engineering and they were fed up with always being on strike and the closed shop. We said we would try and tackle that. I found the canvassing went well and I suddenly found on election night that I was edging ahead and I won by 600 votes. I didn’t know what to think. I thought ‘my goodness, this is a catastrophe’, my aim was to lose it. But in fact subsequently I felt after eighteen years how lucky I had been to represent a constituency that was so concentrated and such lovely people and so representative of the challenges that faced the country. So I really felt that I got into the constituency and had a rapport with the people there. [23:40] I wasn’t married, when I got elected I was 38 and I didn’t marry until I was 45. We got married in ’86 so it was my second Parliament. I met Carla, who’s American, a writer from Mississippi, who’d been very much involved in the civil rights movement. Her family had been bombed out of Mississippi, they were Liberals and they had to leave for their own safety. She and her parents had been in all sorts of actions to confront the Ku Klux Klan and her father was told by the FBI to go. He went up to Washington and became a civil servant and Carla went to the Cathedral School in Washington for one term and then went on to university at Sarah Lawrence in the north just outside New York, and was greatly radicalised by the civil rights movement. She went on to be even more radical in the anti-Vietnam demonstrations and had a most interesting career trying to disrupt production for the Vietnam War out in California. She earned her living by writing, just, and in the end she left America and went to work in Paris for five years. I met her when she came to London and we got married in 1986. [25:50] I was amazed to win [Lincoln] but it was also a great adventure. There was a recount, the first majority was 590 and Margaret Jackson asked for a recount and it went up to 602. At about four o’clock in the morning I telephoned the local area agent and also my parents and I came down the following day and they had a Union Jack hanging outside the Hall. Then I had to go to London, I didn’t have anywhere to live in London, my sister lent me a room for the first few months in Pimlico. I arrived in this great place and all the mail started coming from Lincoln and I didn’t have anyone to help. It wasn’t a question of me interviewing someone to take on the work I was interviewed by a secretary. I had a lovely secretary who also worked for Richard Luce, who was a very distinguished man, so she did both of us. In those days the level of work was such that a MP could share a secretary, it was only gradually the quantity developed. We really had to stand on our own two feet but we were all men and we weren’t schoolboys. There was a talk, I think, from the chief whip in number fourteen committee room and then after a bit you were given a desk. I had an office outside and you had to swear in and then there was the Queens Speech and the opening of Parliament. All the people who had known about politics and were very ambitious all got elected to the back-bench committees. In those days each department had a back-bench committee monitoring it or reflecting it and all the people who knew about it got elected as vice-chairman or secretary; people like William Waldegrave or Patten, Richard Leader(?), all these people knew how to behave. I didn’t, I just looked at it. It was a long time before I made my maiden speech which wasn’t at all distinguished but at least I got it under my belt. [29:17] The Lincoln constituency were very kind and it is quite easy to get around. I had a bicycle there and you could bicycle around it. It had its own newspaper and subsequently it got its own radio and had its own city council. So it was all quite self-contained. I rented a room in the cathedral close where I could always go and lodge, number 5 Minster Yard. Subsequently when I got married the cathedral rented me a little flat in the cathedral close. I had one weekend in Lincoln and I used to go up either very late on Thursday night or very early Friday morning and spend Friday and Saturday there. I didn’t often do anything on a Sunday so I could come back here [Wyken] on a Saturday evening. The other weekend was my own. I hope people felt that I was a presence in the constituency and I could go to as many things as possible during that time. I would make sure that those two days were full up with seeing people or going to places. There is a company called Bidwells in Cambridge and initially they were guiding me when I farmed here by myself but they then took on a more full-time role and took over the books and things like that while I was a Member of Parliament. Subsequently we made different arrangements but that was for the first few years.

    Track 1 [cont.] [31:48] There was a time when the select committees were being established and because I’d had the eight years in industry and business training I tried to make a pitch for Trade and Industry. It took about two years for the select committees to be established, St. John Stevas started them, and I got appointed to the Trade and Industry select committee. Questions were better attended and the whole Commons then was better attended; I remember for all of the debates you were expected to go and sit during the wind-up debates. The whip went around saying ‘do go in’. The whole place was much more crowded and much more energetic than it is now. When you look on the television even the wind-up debates are quite sparsely attended. The committees reflecting the departments were quite well attended then and the committee would make sure every week there was someone speaking to it and I particularly remember Ian Gow. The Prime Minister had this wonderfully effective Private Secretary Ian Gow, quite an outstanding man, and he used to turn up at all these committees and take notes. So one thought it was going to be reported back to Mrs Thatcher. I think they had a role then because when we were in opposition the committees had all the shadow ministers in and they were much more involved in creating policy. I imagine that has all dispersed now. [34:43] [Mrs Thatcher?] Although she appointed me to her Government latterly I don’t think she ever quite knew who I was. The problem is that once someone is elected as Prime Minister they’re removed to Number Ten and they are surrounded by their office and all their Government. But Mrs Thatcher did make a point of coming into the House and Ian Gow would often arrange for her, perhaps once a fortnight, to come and have dinner and would get a number of MP’s round in the dining room for her to sit in and talk. I attended a few of those but I don’t think I contributed very much. There were an awful lot of other people who wanted to have a say. The problem was that after about eight or nine years you do lose touch. One of the big debates in the first Parliament was how do you reform the rating system? I remember Michael Heseltine holding discussions and others and the Poll Tax, or what was called the Community Charge, was one of the things that people discussed. It was completely dismissed as not being workable. So it was quite an indication latterly when it came up that she was persuaded, I think by Ken Baker and William Waldegrave, to follow it. It was a catastrophe really, that’s why she lost her leadership. During that first term I was asked to be a Parliamentary Private Secretary to Hamish Gray who was a minister for energy. I had about a couple of years as his PPS, which was quite nice because I went around to the Department of Energy quite often. Nigel Lawson was then the Secretary of State and his PPS became a great friend of mine, Mark Lennox-Boyd. I also accompanied Hamish Gray when he went to lunches with the oil industry. He was a lovely Scotsman who got defeated in the 1983 election. [38:07] [At your second election what was your majority?] Well it went up to 10,000. There was a slight boundary change which helped so presumably if it hadn’t had the boundary change it would have been about 5,000. The Labour Party manifesto with Michael Foot wasn’t terribly persuasive and there was also a split between Labour and the other party, the SDP as well as Liberal. In 1979 my share of the vote was 43 per cent; in ’83 it went up to 46 per cent and remained at 46 per cent in ’87 and 1992. So the size of majority depended on how the rest of the vote split. So in 1992 my majority went down to 2,000 because many of the votes from SDP went to Labour but I still had just enough to hang on. I would have lost very substantially in ’97 in fact if I’d stayed on. [40:00] After the ’83 election I was asked by Douglas Hurd to be his PPS and he was then Minister of State at the Home Office. Then I went with him the following year when he became Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Then he went to the Home Office. So for the whole of that Parliament I was his PPS. After the election in ’87 I was asked to be a Whip. [Northern Ireland?] I didn’t go over there very much, my job was to keep him informed of what was happening in Parliament because he had to be there so much. I also did arranged trips for back benchers so that they could go over there and find out about the situation. So probably every six weeks or so I took a group of people for a couple of days; they had arranged for us to meet various people and go to various places but it didn’t impinge upon one’s life at all. During this time I did write a couple of pamphlets. I wrote one about sharing of profits because I was quite keen on profit-sharing; then one on conservation and the countryside, which were both published by the Conservative Political Centre. [41:55] In 1987 I became a Whip and was a Whip for three years. As a Whip you first of all have your group of Members of Parliament to look after. I was really mostly looking after those from the East Midlands but you also had to go to a department. So each year you’re given a different department and I think the first year I was at Transport and Agriculture; then I was at The Home Office again and subsequently at the Foreign Office. You have to report back to the Whips office not only about the Members of Parliament you have to look after but also about your department; what the feeling is, how they’re doing and all that. The Chief Whip was the man who became Home Secretary, David Waddington. Subsequently when he was moved to the Home Office it was Tim Renton. As a Whip you didn’t have very much to do with civil servants, you went along as an observer. Also as a Parliamentary Private Secretary you went to these morning meetings and it was quite free, you could say what you wanted if you felt it was relevant. For example as a PPS in the Home Office during the miner’s strike we all spoke about how imperative it was we won that strike and they didn’t prevail. When I was made a Minister in 1990 I was asked to go to the Ministry of Defence, and subsequently after the 1992 election I became Minister for roads, I found that civil servants were excellent. Especially in the Ministry of Defence they were very high quality. You depended very much on your private office. The Ministry of Defence had a lovely private office and they would tell me when they thought somebody was trying to pull the wool over my eyes. Generally civil servants, I felt, were trying to help you reach the right decision and not trying to impede you or anything like that. I was involved in procurement for the navy. One of the great problems is you’re not there for long enough and some of these procurement projects are seven years long, building submarines or a new system of rockets or radar. It takes years and years of research and so you can really only go on the guidance you get because you’re not an expert and you depend very much on the chief of the procurement office to get things right. It’s really only the Secretary of State who can sort something like that out. As a junior minister you can ask a few questions but these great projects, you can’t just stop them in their tracks. That would cause a major political row. I remember we were trying to work out what the new tanks should be. The Challenger tanks that we had in the first Gulf War, which broke out just after I got there after Iraq invaded Kuwait, kept on breaking down, they weren’t very good. The question was should we have the next generation of the Challenger or should we go to the German Leopard tank. I was very much for going to the Leopard tank because it was very reliable and Europe could have the same tank. It wasn’t really my sphere but I wrote a little memo, no-one replied to that. Alan Clarke was determined to have the Challenger 2 for patriotic reasons and whipped up a lot of support and hysteria in support of the Challenger 2. So there were a few things like that. Tom King asked me to try and develop an environmental policy for the Ministry of Defence so that all our methods were as kind as possible to the environment- that was quite a big job. [Alan Clarke?] He was in a way a brilliant man but he was a loner. He wasn’t at all nice to Tom King- he was very aloof and very difficult. But he did have the great quality in that he was prepared to put an alternative view. He was prepared to be outrageous and that’s always quite valuable. I made it a point to get on with him but I was never very close to him. He also had a bit of a resentment that the Minister for the armed forces was Archie Hamilton and Alan Clarke was a bit upset that Archie Hamilton was given a superior rank to him. So he was always quite difficult with Archie Hamilton too. But I must say his Diaries were much more articulate, they were a great read really. He always slightly, I think, over-estimated his own abilities and importance. I think Mrs Thatcher was always a very good judge of people. I don’t think she would ever have had him in her Cabinet.

    Track 1 [cont.] [49:35] [Any issues you opposed your Party in Government?] There was nothing that was going to make me resign. If you join Government unless there is something you fundamentally disagree with you don’t. The Poll Tax was the most difficult one to face because it had an extraordinary effect; whatever the justices it had an extraordinary effect on the finances of individual people right across the Midlands. There was no way we could have won the election in ’92 if we had gone into it with the Poll Tax. I think we all voted for it initially just after the ’87 election, it came on quickly. It only just got through but we voted for it because we were told that it was going to be cheaper for one person living in a house; the same for a couple living in a house; more expensive for more than two living in a house so there was a sort of equity to it. It only just got through, was I in the Whip’s Office then? It was very, very difficult. Heseltine walked out of the Government by then, said it was ‘The Tory Tax’. A lot of people were very suspicious about it. [You retired for any particular reason?] In ’92 I was made a Minister for roads and traffic and I had just over a year there and then John Major asked me to leave that and said you must return to the back benches; which is fair enough really because I’d been in Government as a Whip or Minister for six years. Unless you’re a real star you have to have a turnover. It really had lost its glamour by then. I did join the Public Accounts Committee which was quite interesting in my last years but after eighteen years I was also getting quite tired of going up to Lincoln and the endless circuit of travelling around and I thought I’d try and do other things. [How did you get on with John Major?] Quite well but I was never close to him. Once he became Chancellor of the Exchequer and then Prime Minister I didn’t have much to do with him. The feeling was that she [Margaret Thatcher] had been there for ten years and she said I’m going on and on and on and people said it was time to have a change. She had got more and more remote and somehow there needed to be a revival. Added to that was the Poll Tax. It was an entirely personal decision for me to retire. The electorate would have retired me, I would certainly would have been defeated in ’97, there was a great desire for a change in Government. As I had a marginal constituency anyway, I think Lincoln went Labour by 10,000 votes in ‘97. If I’d lost in ’79 and got say Bury St. Edmunds I might have gone on. But eighteen years was a good time and I was 56 or 57 so I thought it was time to find something else. I was always interested in running this farm and I did look at the end of my time in Parliament 95/96/97, I did put myself around to find if there were any jobs going. By then nobody wanted an ex-Conservative junior Minister. It would have been different at the beginning of the ‘80s but they knew things were changing, we were past history. So I didn’t have a success in that. Anyhow we started the diversification and planted the vineyard in ’88 and opened The Leaping Hare in a very minor way in 1992, we were two days a week. But by 1997 it was beginning to develop quite well and we were open all week and it was a successful business. It grew on to employ 50 people now, 50 local people. The funny thing was that when we first opened I was Minister for roads and we only opened two days a week and on Sunday my wife used to prepare the meals for the café and I was the wine waiter. I was leading the drink driving campaign in the Ministry and on Sunday I was the wine waiter at the Leaping Hare. So we were really hands on. Luckily the Sun never found out otherwise they would have photographed me and there would probably have been a touch of scandal. [Expenses scandal?] It was always impossible for Members of Parliament to vote themselves a pay increase and I was lucky in a way that the expenses we had were not very much and I was lucky that I could, after my second Parliament, afford a full-time secretary. The rest of it went on living in Lincoln, paying for my lodgings. There wasn’t anything spare. By the last Parliament expenses had been increased and I was able to pay something towards the office expenses in Lincoln too, but there wasn’t the scope to have all these other expenses or this great number of assistants they have in Parliament. One never knows what would have happened if one had been offered the opportunity. It’s all very well to say I wouldn’t have touched it or wouldn’t have done it in that way but you never know do you until you have to make that decision in real life. [58:56] [How did your wife cope with your Parliamentary career?] She was very interested. We were lucky that we had this child when she was 41 and I was 48. Our son was born and that was very nice. We had decided initially to live in London but then she decided it was much nicer to bring him up here. It was in a way a little difficult. She had her writing, the business to run and she’s very self-reliant. I never had any problem in that. She was in her time in California a member of the Communist Party and a trade union shop steward trying to disrupt production for the Viet Nam war. But when she came to this country in the late ‘70s she saw the chaos that was ensuing and what strikes Americans, she couldn’t stand the social security system which tried to support people who didn’t want to work. She’s thrilled with Obama and Obamacare and all that but she didn’t like the reliance on the State that she believed socialism in this country created. So she was quite happy to be a Conservative. She only became a British citizen in 2013 and I think she voted Conservative. [01:01:10] [Your conservation interests?] I take the view that roads are very important but you can try to make sure that the route of a road doesn’t destroy habitat; or if it does you take other measures to reinstate or try and reinstate that habitat elsewhere. For example on down-land there was this Winchester bypass. I went down to see it and it did seem to me that most of the road was going through a wheat field. But they had got a technique were they could cut off great lumps of down-land and transfer it, about eighteen inches of soil. Also it was reuniting Winchester with an area called St Catherine’s Hill which the first bypass had severed it from. At another place in Arundel I transferred the route of the road so it wouldn’t go through an ancient woodland. There are other things like how you treat roadside verges, things like lighting which went down and not up into the sky. So in each department you can try and influence things for the better if you have that interest. Roads take far too long from inception to being built, there were always constraints on the finances. [Housing?] You’ve got to try and find brown field sites haven’t you or if it’s on the outskirts of so many villages and small market towns in East Anglia on greenfield sites you’ve got to make sure they’re as sensitive as possible. It’s an extraordinary thing that East Anglia is growing so quickly because of Cambridge, Felixstowe, the whole of that effect, whereas Lavenham survived because the Industrial Revolution took place elsewhere. [01:05:09] I felt very lucky to have been part of it [Parliament]. I was never a star. One of the nice things I did, I was a member of one or two dining clubs and discussion groups. When I first got in there was something called The Progress Trust which used to meet once a week to discuss an issue. Then we used to have two or three dinners where someone came and spoke during each Term. Then I was asked to join something called the One Nation Group where you could dine once a week on Wednesdays and used to have a general discussion about things. That was a sort of progressive group. In those days it was much more collegiate because you were there till ten o’clock quite often. There was much more of a community I think. I’m not sure that still exists. I was the Whip for a man called Richard Boddy, the member for Boston. He was always a rebel in so many ways but a free thinker. Someone like him is very valuable. He was always against the NFU, against the Establishment. But I got on very well with him as a Whip and he said I was the politest Whip he’d had and he wouldn’t vote against me because he didn’t want me to get in trouble with the Chief Whip. The idea is that if someone is genuine in their belief and they give up a warning that’s understandable. The Community Charge Bill was before the ’87 election, a lot of people were against it. David Waddington put a lot of pressure on people; I think he even got someone’s constituency chairman to have a word with them. But I think any MP who’s worth his salt wouldn’t be worried by that. He would say ‘this is what I think’.

  • Notes:
    Recording: 2015-07-06;
    - Carlisle, Kenneth, 1941- (speaker, male; interviewee; Former MP);
    - Barry, John, 1947- (speaker, male; interviewer)
    Recording Notes: audio file 1 WAV 48 kHz 24 bit stereo (ingested WAV file mis-named as 021A-C1503X0120XX-0002M0.wav)
    Duration: 1hr. 09min.
    Performance notes: Former Conservative MP
    Interviewee notes: Former Conservative MP
    Performance notes: Father's occupation: businessman
    Interviewee notes: Father's occupation: businessman

Searching Remote Databases, Please Wait