Janet Young, Baroness Young

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The Baroness Young

Janet Young, Baroness Young.jpg
Lord Privy Seal
In office
7 April 1982 – 11 June 1983
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Humphrey Atkins
Succeeded by John Biffen
Leader of the House of Lords
In office
14 September 1981 – 11 June 1983
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Christopher Soames
Succeeded by The Viscount Whitelaw
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
In office
14 September 1981 – 7 April 1982
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Francis Pym
Succeeded by Cecil Parkinson
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
24 May 1971 – 6 September 2002
Life Peerage
Personal details
Born (1926-10-23)23 October 1926
Died 6 September 2002(2002-09-06) (aged 75)
Political party Conservative
Alma mater Yale University
St Anne's College, Oxford

Janet Mary Young, Baroness Young, PC, DL (née Baker; 23 October 1926 – 6 September 2002) was a British Conservative politician. She served as the first ever female Leader of the House of Lords from 1981 to 1983, first as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and from 1982 as Lord Privy Seal. She was the only woman ever appointed to the Cabinet by Margaret Thatcher.

Early life

Born in 1926, she went to the mainly boys Dragon School in Oxford where she played rugby and cricket, and then to Headington School. During World War II she studied at Yale, and then took an MA in philosophy, politics and economics at St Anne's College, Oxford. She married Geoffrey Tyndale Young, and had three daughters.[1]

Political career

She became a councillor for Oxford City Council in 1957 and was leader by 1967. Not long after, she was raised to the peerage on the advice of Edward Heath. Her life peerage was announced on 5 April 1971[2] and was raised to the peerage on 24 May 1971 as Baroness Young, of Farnworth in the County Palatine of Lancaster.[3][4] As the Baroness Young she joined the Cabinet on 15 September 1981, when she was appointed to be the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.[5] On 13 April 1982, she was appointed to be the Leader of the House of Lords and the Lord Privy Seal,[6] posts which she kept until 11 June 1983.[7]

She sat on the boards of large corporations such as NatWest and Marks and Spencer. In later life she was known for her staunch opposition to gay rights. She worked to try to stop legislation going through that would allow unmarried couples (including gay men and women) to adopt children,[8] and also led campaigns in the House of Lords to prevent equalisation of the age of consent for homosexual men with that of heterosexuals,[9] and also fought the repeal of Section 28.[8] She was ultimately defeated on all counts. Although she managed to delay the repeal of Section 28 in England and Wales in 2000,after her death Section 28 was finally removed from the statute book in 2003.


She died at the age of 75 following a long battle with cancer.

Following her death, gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell declared that she had "poisoned society with prejudice and intolerance" and that "future historians will rank her alongside the defenders of apartheid. She supported homophobic discrimination to the last."[10]

Tim Montgomerie, then Chairman of the Conservative Christian Fellowship, said that "Baroness Young led a life of great service to Christian causes. She defended marriage and the family against an onslaught of damaging legislation in recent years. Unlike many of today's politicians and church leaders, she refused to accept that the breakdown of the family was inevitable and she invested every effort into standing up for the interests of vulnerable children. If only more Christians followed her example and sought political office, the country would, perhaps, not face the same difficulties that it does. She will be sadly missed."[11]

Styles of address

  • 1926–1950: Miss Janet Baker
  • 1950–1971: Mrs Janet Young
  • 1971–1981: The Rt Hon The Baroness Young
  • 1981–2002: The Rt Hon The Baroness Young PC


  1. ^ Obituary, BBC 6 September 2002
  2. ^ "No. 45336". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 April 1971. p. 3333.
  3. ^ "No. 45377". The London Gazette. 25 May 1971. p. 5449.
  4. ^ "No. 18993". The Edinburgh Gazette. 25 May 1971. p. 387.
  5. ^ "No. 48741". The London Gazette. 18 September 1981. p. 11857.
  6. ^ "No. 48952". The London Gazette. 16 April 1982. p. 5169.
  7. ^ "No. 49398". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 June 1983. p. 8479.
  8. ^ a b Langdon, Julia (6 September 2002). "Lady Young of Farnworth". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  9. ^ "Profile: Baroness Young". BBC. 29 November 2000. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  10. ^ The Independent, 7 September 2002
  11. ^ Christian Institute tribute to Baroness Young Archived 17 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
Political offices
Preceded by
Christopher Soames
Leader of the House of Lords
Succeeded by
The Viscount Whitelaw
Preceded by
Francis Pym
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
Succeeded by
Cecil Parkinson
Preceded by
Humphrey Atkins
Lord Privy Seal
Succeeded by
John Biffen
Party political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Soames
Leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Lords
Succeeded by
The Viscount Whitelaw
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