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Norman Stewart Hughson Lamont


(Baron Lamont of Lerwick)

1942 -

Politician. Born in Lerwick (Shetland), the son of a surgeon, and educated at Loretto School (Musselburgh) and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, where he became involved in student politics and was Chairman of the Student Union. Lamont worked for the Conservative party (1965-8) before becoming a merchant banker (1968-79).

Having contested the English constituency of Hull East (1970), Lamont was elected as Member of Parliament for Kingston-upon-Thames (1972). He rose quickly under Margaret Thatcher's leadership of the Conservative Party, supporting her right-wing policies. In opposition, he became spokesman on Consumer Affairs (1975-6) and Industry (1976-9). Following the Conservative victory in the General Election of 1979, he was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Energy (1979-81), then Minister of State at the Department of Trade and Industry (1981-5) and Minister for Defence Procurement (1985-86), before moving to the Treasury. His first role was as Financial Secretary (1986-9), then Chief Secretary (1989-90). He became a supporter of the then Chancellor John Major, and masterminded Major's campaign for leadership of the Conservative Party (1990). Thus, Lamont was able to secure the top job in the Treasury, Chancellor of the Exchequer (1990-3), for himself. In this role, he firmly backed Britain's membership of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) and, despite earlier assurances to the contrary, he was forced to withdraw from the ERM, but only after the Government had spent billions trying to support the pound on the international markets. These events brought fierce criticism and calls for his resignation. He was replaced as Chancellor by Kenneth Clarke in May 1993, after which he became a bitter critic of the Major administration.

Having lost his seat in the 1997 General election which brought a Labour government to power, Lamont returned to his career in the financial industry. He was created a life peer as Baron Lamont of Lerwick in 1998.


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