Open main menu

Robin Corbett, Baron Corbett of Castle Vale

Robin Corbett, Baron Corbett of Castle Vale (22 December 1933 – 19 February 2012) was a British Labour Party politician. He served in the House of Commons from 1974 to 1979 and from 1983 to 2001, and was then created a life peer and entered the House of Lords. Corbett was a journalist before entering politics.

The Lord Corbett of Castle Vale
Lord Corbett of Castle Vale 2011.png
Member of Parliament
for Birmingham Erdington
In office
9 June 1983 – 14 May 2001
Preceded byJulius Silverman
Succeeded bySiôn Simon
Member of Parliament
for Hemel Hempstead
In office
10 October 1974 – 3 May 1979
Preceded byJames Harry Allason
Succeeded byNicholas Lyell
Personal details
Born22 December 1933
Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia
Died19 February 2012(2012-02-19) (aged 78)
Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England
Political partyLabour
Val Hudson (m. 1970)

Early lifeEdit

Corbett was born in Fremantle, Western Australia, to Marguerite Adele (née Mainwaring) and Thomas William Corbett. His parents had recently immigrated to Australia from England. His father, a foundry worker and mechanical engineer, was a militant unionist, and his involvement in certain demonstrations resulted in he and his family being deported back to England in 1935. They resettled in West Bromwich, and Corbett attended Holly Lodge Grammar School in Smethwick, leaving at the age of sixteen. He was called up for two years' national service into the Royal Air Force in 1951. After completing his national service he became a journalist, first for the Birmingham Evening Mail and then for the Daily Mirror. In 1968 he became deputy editor of Farmer's Weekly, then worked for IPC Magazines in 1970, where he stayed until his election to parliament in 1974.[1]

Parliamentary careerEdit

Corbett first stood for Parliament at Hemel Hempstead in 1966, and then in a 1967 by-election at West Derbyshire, but was unsuccessful at both attempts.

He was elected Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Hemel Hempstead at the October 1974 general election, but he lost the seat at the general election in 1979. He then returned to IPC Magazines, working as a communications consultant until he returned to parliament in the 1983 general election, representing Birmingham Erdington. He held this seat until his retirement from the House of Commons at the 2001 general election. Siôn Simon replaced him as Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Erdington.

Whilst in the House of Commons, he was opposition spokesman on Home Affairs (1979–1992), then for national heritage, broadcasting and press until 1995. He was a Labour Party Whip from 1984 until 1987. He was Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee from 1999 to 2001.

House of LordsEdit

He was raised to the peerage as Baron Corbett of Castle Vale, of Erdington in the County of West Midlands, in 2001. His political interests included Home Office, police, civil liberties, the motor industry, manufacturing, disability, children's rights, alternative energy, environment, agriculture, animal welfare, and press and broadcasting. He was Chair of the All Party Penal Affairs Group, a parliamentary organisation clerked by the Prison Reform Trust, and a patron of the Forum on Prisoner Education and UNLOCK, The National Association of Ex-Offenders. He was chairman of the all-party British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom and chairman of Friends of Cyprus.

He was a Vice-President of the Debating Group.[2]


He married Val Hudson in 1970, with whom he had one daughter, Polly Hudson, a columnist for the Daily Mirror. He also had a daughter and a son from a previous marriage.


Corbett died of lung cancer at his home in Hemel Hempstead on 19 February 2012, aged 78.[3]

Robin Corbett AwardEdit

Following Lord Corbett's death in February 2012 and his lifelong interest in prisoners 'learning through doing', his family established a lasting memorial to his exceptional work in penal reform. The Robin Corbett Award for Prisoner Rehabilitation[4] was launched in 2013 with the Prison Reform Trust as prisoner rehabilitation legacy.

This annual award is for outstanding rehabilitative work with prisoners done by a small charity or community group working in partnership with prison staff.[5] The award champions work that fosters personal responsibility and encourages people in prison, and ex-offenders, to help themselves and others.

Nominations are invited from prison governors and directors across the UK and winners of the main £3,000 prize to date include KeepOut[6] (2013) and PrisonWorks[7] (2014). Also highly commended, and winners of the £1,000 runner-up prizes to date, were Theatre Nemo[8] (2013) and The Forgiveness Project[9] (2014).


  1. ^ "Corbett, Robin". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/104659.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ Debating Group Archived 5 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Notice of death of Lord Corbett
  4. ^ "The Robin Corbett Award for Prisoner Rehabilitation 2013; Prison Reform Trust".
  5. ^ "Robin Corbett Award for Prisoner Rehabilitation; South West Scotland Community Justice Authority".
  6. ^ "KeepOut wins Robin Corbett Award for Prisoner Rehabilitation;".
  7. ^ "Isle of Man charity wins prisoner rehabilitation award;, the official Isle of Man government website".
  8. ^ "Theatre group commended for work with Barlinnie prisoners; Scottish Prison Service". Archived from the original on 22 February 2014.
  9. ^ "RESTORE highly commended For "outstanding rehabilitative work" by Robin Corbett Award; The Forgiveness Project".

External linksEdit