Sir George Samuel Knatchbull Young, 6th Baronet born 16 July 1941 is a British politician. He is currently the Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal, and has served as a Conservative Party Member of Parliament since 1974, having represented North West Hampshire since 1997, and Ealing Acton before that.
Young served in the Cabinet from 1995 to 1997 as Secretary of State for Transport. He later served in the Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Defence Secretary, Shadow Constitutional Affairs Spokesman and Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, before assuming his current role following the 2010 general election.
Young was born in Oxford in 1941, the first son of Sir George Peregrine "Gerry" Young, 5th Baronet, and Elizabeth Knatchbull-Hugessen. His father was a diplomat who met Elizabeth while serving in Beijing (where her father, Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen, was the British Ambassador). They married in 1939. On the death of his father in 1960, George inherited the Baronetcy which had been created in 1813 when Sir Samuel Young's services as an Admiral in the Royal Navy were recognised.
Young was educated at Eton, and then Christ Church, Oxford, where he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics, graduating in 1963. He was active in student politics while at Oxford, holding various offices in the Oxford University Conservative Association and being elected to the Standing Committee of the Oxford Union. After graduating from Oxford, he worked for a period at the merchant bank Hill Samuel, and then at the National Economic Development Office from 1966 to 1967. He then spent two years as Kobler Research Fellow at the University of Surrey, where he completed an M.Phil. From 1969 to 1974, Young was an economic adviser to the Post Office Corporation.
Young served as a Councillor in the London Borough of Lambeth from 1968 to 1971, alongside his wife and John Major. He represented Clapham Town ward, and served on the Housing Committee. He and other councillors worked as refuse collectors at weekends during a strike. He lost his council seat in 1971.
In 1970, Young was elected to the Greater London Council (GLC) as one of four Members for the London Borough of Ealing. He served on the GLC from 1970 to 1973, where he was vice-chairman of the Strategic Planning Authority. He did not contest his seat on the GLC in 1973, having been selected as a candidate for Parliament. (He was later one of the local government ministers who abolished the GLC
Personal and family life
Young married Aurelia Nemon-Stuart, daughter of sculptor Oscar Nemon, on 11 July 1964. They have two sons and two daughters, and live in Penton Mewsey, Hampshire.
He is a supporter of West London football club Queens Park Rangers.
In 1987 Young was banned from driving after being caught drink driving. It was reported that he smashed into a motorway barrier and continued on until stopped by police.
His wealth is estimated at £1m.
Young was elected to Parliament at the February 1974 general election as the MP for Acton with a majority of 1,300, defeating the sitting Labour Party MP, Nigel Spearing. (Spearing returned to parliament a few weeks later after winning a by-election in Newham South, and the two remained good friends until Spearing retired in 1997.) Young was re-elected as MP for Ealing Acton at the October 1974 general election with a majority of 808. He continued to represent Acton (renamed Ealing Acton in 1983) for the next 23 years, when the seat was abolished owing to boundary changes.
From 1976 to 1979, Young served as an opposition whip. When the Conservative Party won the 1979 General Election, he was made a Junior Health Minister. From 1981 to 1986, Young served as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of the Environment.
In 1982, Young and his children appeared on a British Rail poster alongside Jimmy Savile to promote new measures to allow people to take their bicycles on trains more easily. Young had made a critical speech in parliament about the provisions for cyclists to take their bikes on trains, and when British Rail implemented new measures they invited Young to appear on the publicity poster. His enthusiasm for cycling has earned Young the nickname of the "Bicycling Baronet".
In 1992 when asked during parliamentary discussions of the Asbestos Disaster in Armley for financial assistance in surveying local housing in the Armley area for residual asbestos, the then Minister for Housing and Planning, Sir George Young, responded that the government would not provide financial assistance to the home owners or the council to pay for decontamination, as this "would not be a justifiable use of public funds."
On the backbenches from 1986 to 1990, Young was among the leaders of the rebellion within the Conservative Party against the implementation of the Poll Tax. Shortly before leaving office in 1990, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher brought Young back into her government as a Whip (Comptroller of the Household) as part of her attempts to reunite the party.
When John Major became Prime Minister in November 1990, he gave Young to the role of Minister for Housing and Planning. Young then served as Financial Secretary to the Treasury from 1994 to 1995, and in the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Transport from 1995 to 1997. He was made a Privy Councillor in 1993.
When Young's Ealing Acton constituency was abolished because of boundary changes, he was parachuted into the safe Conservative seat of North West Hampshire at the 1997 general election to replace the retiring MP Sir David Mitchell. Young was elected with a majority of 11,551, and has continued to serve as the MP for North West Hampshire since then.
Following the Conservative Party's defeat in 1997, Young was appointed to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Defence Secretary by the party's new leader, William Hague. In 1998, Young became Shadow Leader of the House of Commons. In 1999, he was given additional responsibilities as Spokesman on Constitutional Affairs. He was a member of the Modernisation Select Committee and of the House of Commons Commission from 1998 to 2000.
Young resigned from the Shadow Cabinet in September 2000 in order to stand for the position of Speaker of the House of Commons. Fourteen MPs put their names forward to succeed the retiring Betty Boothroyd, and many observers considered Young to be the favourite to be elected to the role. He had support from both the Conservative and Labour leadership, however many backbench MPs, particularly those from the Labour Party (who held a large majority in the House at the time), viewed Young as someone who had too recently been a member of his party's front bench team and was thus not sufficiently in touch with ordinary MPs. In the end, Young was not elected as Speaker, with the House instead choosing Labour MP Michael Martin for the role.
In the last two years Young claimed the maximum second home allowance of £23,000 a year on his London home, which is within walking distance of the House of Commons. He also used taxpayer-funded expenses to employ his daughter Camilla as his office manager. Her salary was not declared. Last year Young paid his staff a total of £86,682.