White, Eirene.

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White, Eirene.

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Eirene White was a journalist and civil servant who served as the Labour MP for East Flintshire, 1950-1970, and subsequently became the Baroness White of Rhymney.

She was born at Belfast on 7 November 1909, the daughter of Dr Thomas Jones CH (1870-1955) who was to serve as the distinguished Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet, 1916-1930, rendering loyal service to four successive prime ministers: Lloyd George, Bonar Law, Stanley Baldwin and Ramsay MacDonald.

She was educated at St Paul's Girls' School and then read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Somerville College, Oxford. She travelled widely in Europe and the United States, taking an absorbing interest in housing and the problems of the homeless, and in 1939 she became Welsh Regional Secretary of the Women's Voluntary Service. Subsequently, she was recruited by the Ministry of Labour to assist with the training of workers for the war effort. In 1945 she stood for parliament unsuccessfully for Flintshire in the Labour interest. Thereafter she turned to journalism, representing the Manchester Evening News and the BBC at the House of Commons. Eirene Jones was elected to the Labour Party's National Executive in 1947. In 1948 she married John Cameron White, a fellow lobby correspondent at the Commons. He predeceased her in 1968. There were no children of the marriage. Finally, in 1950, she entered the House of Commons as Labour MP for East Flintshire, holding on to this highly marginal constituency for twenty years.

Very early in her parliamentary career, Eirene White became interested in the law of marriage and divorce. Had Hugh Gaitskell survived, she would probably have been given Cabinet office. When the Labour Party came into government in 1964, she was appointed parliamentary private secretary at the Colonial Office, and in 1966 she became Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. Only a year later, Harold Wilson moved her to the rather more mundane Welsh Office where she remained, serving mainly under George Thomas, until she decided to retire from the Commons in 1970. She was also Chairman of the Labour Party, 1968-1969. In 1970 she entered the House of Lords as Baroness White of Rhymney.

Baroness White's energy did not diminish in the Lords. She held a rich array of public offices, many of them in Wales. These included chairman of Coleg Harlech, 1974-1984, and chairman of the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology, 1983-1888. She was also Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords, 1979-1989. She died in 1999.


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