Frederick Thomas Willey (13 November 1910 – 13 December 1987) was a British Labour Party politician. He was a Member of Parliament (MP) representing a Sunderland constituency for 38 years, from 1945 to 1983.

Frederick Willey
Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party
In office
14 June 1979 – 19 November 1981
LeaderJames Callaghan
Michael Foot
Preceded byCledwyn Hughes
Succeeded byJack Dormand
Minister of State for Housing and Local Government
In office
18 October 1964 – 19 June 1970
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Succeeded byGraham Page
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Food
In office
18 April 1950 – 26 October 1951
LeaderClement Attlee
Preceded byStanley Evans
Succeeded byCharles Hill
Member of Parliament
for Sunderland North
Sunderland (1945-1950)
In office
5 July 1945 – 13 May 1983
Preceded byStephen Furness
Succeeded byBob Clay
Personal details
Born(1910-11-13)13 November 1910
Died13 December 1987(1987-12-13) (aged 77)
Political partyLabour
SpouseEleanor Snowdon
Alma materSt John's College, Cambridge

Early life


Willey was educated at Durham Johnston School and St John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated with a first-class degree in law and won the Blackstone Prize and a Harmsworth studentship.[1] He was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in 1936, and later worked as a barrister on the Northern Circuit.

His political career as an activist for social justice and other left-wing causes began in the 1930s, when he was the keynote speaker welcoming returning International Brigade volunteers to Sunderland.

Military career


During the Second World War Willey served with the Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) and was an officer of the Fire Brigades Union.

Parliamentary career


Willey was elected to the House of Commons as Member of Parliament (MP) for Sunderland in 1945, when the Borough still sent two MPs to Parliament. In 1950 two-member constituencies were abolished and Willey was returned for the new constituency of Sunderland North, where he served until he retired before the general election of 1983.

Willey served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food from 1950 to 1951, and as Minister of Land and Natural Resources from 1965 to 1967. He opened the UK's first long-distance footpath, the Pennine Way, in 1965.

He served as Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party from 1979 to 1981.


  1. ^ "WILLEY, Rt. Hon. Frederick Thomas". Who's Who & Who Was Who. Vol. 2024 (online ed.). A & C Black. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  • The Times House of Commons 1945. 1945. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  • The Times House of Commons 1950. 1950. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  • The Times House of Commons 1955. 1955. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Sunderland
With: Richard Ewart
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Sunderland North
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party
Succeeded by