Peter Tapsell

Peter Tapsell (UK politician)

Sir Peter Hannay Bailey Tapsell (born 1 February 1930) is a politician in the United Kingdom. He is Conservative Member of Parliament for Louth and Horncastle.


Tapsell was born in Hove. He was educated at Tonbridge School, served in the Royal Sussex Regiment from 1948 to 1950, and continued his education at Merton College, Oxford gaining an MA in Modern History in 1953, then a Diploma in Economics in 1954, during which time he was also Librarian of the Oxford Union (a senior office). Tapsell contested the Wednesbury by-election in 1957, losing to the Labour victor John Stonehouse. He was Chairman of the Coningsby Club from 1957 until 1958.

He first entered Parliament in the 1959 general election, representing Nottingham West, and is the Conservatives' longest-serving MP albeit with a break in service (1964 to 1966). He is the only current MP of any party first elected in the 1950s, but the gap in his parliamentary service has thus far prevented him from being Father of the House. Should Tapsell seek and win re-election at the next general election, however, he will become Father of the House, as the current Father Alan Williams has confirmed his intention to retire.

After losing his seat at the 1964 general election, he was selected for Horncastle, representing that seat from 1966 to 1983. In 1983, boundary changes moved Tapsell to East Lindsey, which he represented until 1997 when boundary changes moved him to his present constituency. Tapsell was knighted in 1985.

Tapsell is known for his forthright views and is no stranger to controversy. In May 2001, he made headlines during the UK general election campaign when comparing the then German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's vision of Europe to Adolf Hitler's: "We may not have studied Hitler's Mein Kampf in time but, by heaven, there is no excuse for us not studying the Schröder plan now".

On 9 November 2005 he was the only Conservative MP, and one of only two non-Labour MPs, to vote in favour of a proposal to allow police to detain terror suspects for up to 90 days without charge.

In July 2006, he said that Israeli action in Lebanon was "gravely reminiscent of the Nazi atrocity on the Jewish quarter of Warsaw". He is opposed to the war in Afghanistan.

Guardian sketch writer Simon Hoggart regularly lavishes praise on Sir Peter, describing him "as the grandest of grandees" (July 2008) and that when in the Chamber, Tapsell rises "to speak, or rather to intone superbly." (Jan 2008)

Personal life

Tapsell married the Hon. Cecilia Hawke, daughter of the 9th Baron Hawke in 1963, with whom he had a son. They divorced in 1971. He subsequently married Gabrielle Mahieu in 1974.


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