Bowen, Roderic

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Bowen, Roderic

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Evan Roderic Bowen (1913-2001), a native of Cardigan, was educated at local schools, the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth and St John's College, Cambridge. He was called to the bar by the Middle Temple in 1936 and commenced practising on the South Wales circuit in 1937. Following active service during the Second World War, Bowen was elected the Liberal MP for his native Cardiganshire in the general election of July 1945. During most of the 1950s he was one of a tiny group of only five or six Liberal MPs left at Westminster. He remained the MP for the county until his defeat in 1966. From the outset he was seen as a right-winger, strongly opposed to any flirtation with Socialism and the Labour Party. He was a witty, entertaining debater, generally popular at Westminster.

At the same time Bowen continued his highly lucrative legal work, building up an extensive legal business in south Wales. He took silk in 1952, was appointed Recorder of Carmarthen in 1950 and Recorder of Merthyr Tydfil in 1953. He failed to succeed Clement Davies as leader of the Liberal Party in the autumn of 1956 when Jo Grimond was chosen. Thereafter relations between the two senior Liberal Party politicians were at best frosty. Bowen became Recorder of Swansea in 1960 and Recorder of Cardiff in 1964. In October 1965, against the advice of his party hierarchy, he accepted the position of Deputy Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee at Westminster, a highly controversial decision which was hotly debated both at Westminster and in his constituency during the run-up to the 1966 general election when he was narrowly defeated by Elystan Morgan (Labour).

Thereafter Roderic Bowen's involvement in party politics was at best minimal. In 1966 he was sent to Aden by George Brown to investigate interrogation procedures in the British colony. He served as National Insurance Commissioner for Wales, 1967-1986, and as a notably conscientious president of St Davids University College, Lampeter, 1977-1992. During 1971-1972 he also chaired a governmental committee set up to examine road signs policy in Wales. He was in constant demand as an adept after-dinner speaker and was a staunch supporter of the national rights of Wales.

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