Nicholas Scott

Sir Nicholas Paul Scott KBE PC (5 August 1933 – 6 January 2005) was a British Conservative Party politician.[1] Scott was born in Edmonton, Middlesex, to Percival John Scott, a Metropolitan Police officer, and his wife, Teresa Mary Murphy, who was Irish Catholic.[2]

Sir Nicholas Scott

Sir Nicholas Scott 1996.jpg
Scott during a TV interview in 1996
Minister of State for Social Security
In office
13 June 1987 – 20 July 1994
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
John Major
Preceded byJohn Major
Succeeded byWilliam Hague
Under-Secretary of State (Northern Ireland Office)
In office
15 September 1981 – 11 September 1986
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Member of Parliament
for Chelsea
In office
10 October 1974 – 1 May 1997
Preceded byMarcus Worsley
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Member of Parliament
for Paddington South
In office
31 March 1966 – 28 February 1974
Preceded byRobert Allan
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Personal details
Born(1933-08-05)5 August 1933
Edmonton, Middlesex, England
Died6 January 2005(2005-01-06) (aged 71)
London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, England
Political partyConservative
Elizabeth Robinson
(m. 1954; div. 1976)

Cecilia Tapsell
(m. 1979)

In comparison to most Young Conservatives of Scott's generation who later made it into the cabinet, he stood out, as not having gone to Oxbridge. His education was modest consisting of: at St Andrew's primary in Streatham, Clapham College, and then part-time at the City of London College and the City Literary Institute. From there he took modest jobs as a salesman, executive or director, first with Shell, then in the printing trade. Nick became one of the stars of the postwar generation of liberal, pro-European Young Conservatives and rose to become President of the Tory Reform Group.[3] Scott fought hard to retain a human face for British Conservatism, during his time in the House of Commons, he served as minister for social security, disabled people, Northern Ireland and employment.

Political careerEdit


Scott started his political career serving as a councillor on Holborn Borough Council 1956–59 and 1962–65.[4]

Scott contested Islington South West at the 1959 general election and at the 1964 election.

Scott was made national chairman of the Young Conservatives in 1963. He entered the House of Commons on his third attempt, at the 1966 general election. He was returned as Member of Parliament (MP) for the Paddington South constituency, defeating Labour's Conrad Russell.

Scott quickly became one of the stand out liberal Tory MPs, speaking out against discrimination of foreign students and demanding more nursery education. In 1968 when Labour home secretary James Callaghan proposed immigration limits on the entry of East African Asians with UK passports, Scott swam against the tide and refused to join the Conservative shadow government in supporting the limits. He was one of the very first Tory MP's to speak out against Enoch Powell's 1968 anti-immigration speech.[3]


Scott was a protege of Iain Macleod who made him his parliamentary Private Secretary just one month before Macleod died in 1970. With the advent of the Heath government Scott stuck with his principles opposing the sale of arms to apartheid South Africa.[3]

When his seat was abolished after boundary changes for the February 1974 election, he stood in the new Paddington seat, but lost to the outgoing Paddington North MP Arthur Latham.

Shortly after he lost his parliamentary seat in 1974, Time magazine picked Nicholas Scott as one of its 150 "future world leaders". However in October 1974 Marcus Worsley, the MP for the safe Conservative seat of Chelsea, decided to retire. Scott was selected as the new Conservative candidate, and at the October 1974 general election, he was returned with over 60% of the vote. He immediately took a seat on the opposition front bench as Edward Heath appointed him spokesman on housing.[5]


Scotts' prospects were greatly curtailed when Margaret Thatcher won the Conservative Party Leadership race. Thatcher was a proponent of a 'tougher', less liberal Conservatism. Scott was offered a more junior position, he refused to serve and became a rallying point for the "wets" within the party. He did little to appease Thatcher, opposing sending sports teams to apartheid South Africa, he was also a proponent of Proportional Representation, and abstained on new immigration restrictions.[3]

Scott's championing of liberal causes led Labour Politician Dick Crossman to describe him as "the most liberal Tory of them all". However when Roy Jenkins tried to enlist him for the newly formed SDP in 1981, Scott remained loyal to the Tory party and turned down the invitation.[5]

He was made a Privy Councillor in 1989. A moderate Conservative, he fought with his characteristic mixture of charm and principle to fend off Margaret Thatcher's more radical schemes and was the initial host of "Nick's Diner", the dining club where 'Wets' let off anti-Thatcher steam.[3]

In 1981 when Jim Prior, seen as a leader of the 'wet' Conservatives, was transferred to Northern Ireland by Thatcher, Scott joined him as a junior Minister. Scott took charge of prisons very quickly coming under fire when there was a mass break out from the Maze Prison and faced calls to resign. Prior stood by him, declaring that if Scott was forced to resign he would go as well. Scott became the longest serving minister in Northern Ireland and was rewarded for his service by being made Minister of State.[5]

Scott firmly believed in power sharing in Northern Ireland. A stance the made him deeply unpopular with the loyalist element in Northern Ireland,[5] many of whom felt that he had greater sympathy for a united Ireland than he let on. He was a strong supporter of the Anglo-Irish Agreement and was held in high regard by the Dublin government and by the SDLP[6]


In 1987 Scott was shifted sideways to the department of Department of Health and Social Security, and soon became Minister of Disabled as well. The autonomy he had had in Northern Ireland away from Thatcher did not continue in to this roll. Scott made no secret of his disquiet at some of the reforms he was forced to put through. His period as Minister for the Disabled saw him come under attack from many campaigners, including his own daughter, a disability campaigner, when on behalf of the Government he 'talked out' the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill, a Private member's bill which aimed to outlaw discrimination on grounds of disability.[7] Despite this he could point to provisions for the disabled being over a quarter greater than they had been at the start of the Thatcher government.[5] He was succeeded in this post by William Hague. Appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1964, he was knighted in the same order in 1995.[4]

Scott remained MP for Chelsea until the seat was abolished at the 1997 general election. He was initially selected as the Conservative candidate for the new Kensington and Chelsea constituency, but was subsequently deselected after allegations of alcoholism surfaced following an incident in which he was found passed out in a gutter during the party conference in Bournemouth.[8]


Away from politics Scott was a keen cricketer and widely regarded as a talented opening batsman. He turned out for a number of clubs through his career including MCC, Free Foresters, and the Lords and Commons Cricket team. A Celebration of Lords and Commons Cricket 1850-1988 (1989) rued the fact that a busy political career had kept him away from the crease for far too many matches. Despite this his batting average was impressive, during a 16 year playing career for the Lords and Commons he scored over 2,000 runs, and in 1972 posted an average of 238 runs.[9]

Personal lifeEdit

Sir Nicholas was twice married. His first marriage to Elizabeth Robinson, by whom he had son, Christopher, and two daughters Victoria and Kirsty, ended in divorce.[citation needed]

He married secondly to Hon. Cecilia Ann Tapsell, daughter of Bladen Hawke, 9th Baron Hawke, and had another son and daughter Patrick (Paddy) and Amber.[4]


  • Times Guide to the House of Commons, Times Newspapers Limited, 1992 edition.
  • Whitaker's Almanack, 2006 edition.


  1. ^ "Obituary: Sir Nicholas Scott". 7 January 2005. BBC News. 7 January 2005. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  2. ^ Goldman, Lawrence (2013). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2005-2008. OUP Oxford. p. 1023. ISBN 9780199671540. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e
  4. ^ a b c Mosley, Charles, ed. (2003). Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knighthood (107 ed.). Burke's Peerage & Gentry. p. 3547. ISBN 0-9711966-2-1.
  5. ^ a b c d e
  6. ^
  7. ^ Hansard, HC 6ser vol 243 cols 1077-1100
  8. ^ Roth, Andrew (2005) ""Obituary: Sir Nicholas Scott", The Guardian, 7 January 2005. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  9. ^

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Robert Allan
Member of Parliament for Paddington South
1966February 1974
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
Marcus Worsley
Member of Parliament for Chelsea
October 19741997
Constituency abolished
Political offices
Preceded by
John Major
Minister of State for Social Security
(Minister for the Disabled)

(post transferred from Dept. of Health & Social Security
to Department of Social Security 25 July 1988)

Succeeded by
William Hague