David Young, Baron Young of Graffham

David Young, Baron Young of Graffham
The Right Honourable
The Lord Young of Graffham
Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
In office
13 June 1987 – 24 July 1989
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Paul Channon
Succeeded by Nicholas Ridley
Secretary of State for Employment
In office
2 September 1985 – 13 June 1987
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by Tom King
Succeeded by Norman Fowler
Minister without Portfolio
In office
11 September 1984 – 2 September 1985
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Preceded by The Lord Drumalbyn
Succeeded by Jeremy Hanley
Personal details
Born 27 February 1932 (1932-02-27) (age 79)
Finchley, United Kingdom
Political party Conservative
Alma mater University College, London
Religion Judaism

David Ivor Young, Baron Young of Graffham, PC DL (born 27 February 1932) is a British Conservative politician and businessman.


Early life

Young is the elder son of a businessman who imported flour and later set up as a manufacturer of coats for children. He went to Christ's College in Finchley and then University College London to take a law degree as an evening student during his time as an articled clerk to become a solicitor, being admitted to the roll of solicitors in 1955.

Business career

However, he only practised for a year, after which he joined the Great Universal Stores Ltd, as an executive, working for part of that time as an assistant to the Chairman, Sir Isaac Wolfson Bt. In 1961 he left GUS and set up his first business, Eldonwall Ltd with funding from the Gestetner Family Settlements. During the sixties he built up a group of companies in industrial property, construction and plant hire, selling out in June 1970 to Town & City Properties PLC and joined the board. After the property crash of 1973/4 he assisted Jeffery Sterling (later Lord Sterling) to reverse his company into T&CP to form a group that later became P&O. In 1975 he left the board and entered into a joint venture with Manufacturers Hanover, and became Chairman of Manufacturers Hanover Property Services, lending on real estate in the United Kingdom and overseas. He also had a number of other commercial interests. He sold out all his commercial interests in 1980 upon entering the Department of Industry. His younger brother Stuart Young served as Chairman of the BBC.

Political career

Young became involved in voluntary organisations, as Chairman of the British Organization for Rehabilitation by Training in 1975 and President from 1980 to 1982; he was Chairman of the International Council of Jewish Social and Welfare Services from 1981. In 1977 Young, an active Conservative, became a member of the Management Board of the Centre for Policy Studies, a 'think-tank' founded by Margaret Thatcher; he was made a Director of the CPS in 1979 shortly after the general election that brought Mrs Thatcher to power. On the first day of the new government, Keith Joseph, the Secretary of State for Industry appointed him his advisor responsible for what later became known as privatisation.

Because of his involvement with vocational training through ORT, he was picked by Norman Tebbit when he was Secretary of State for Employment to be the Chairman of the Manpower Services Commission in 1981, the Government Agency dealing with unemployment and training matters. As such he became involved in government decisions and the Cabinet ministers who dealt with him regarded him very positively; he made his position as a 'dry' on economic policy. He received a life peerage as Baron Young of Graffham, of Graffham in the County of West Sussex on 10 August 1984. One month later, on 11 September it was announced that Young was to enter the cabinet as Minister without Portfolio (the first for twenty years) to advise the government on unemployment issues. On 2 September 1985 he became Secretary of State for Employment.

1987 election

Mrs Thatcher regarded Young as personally loyal to her and decided in March 1987 to put him into a central role in planning the 1987 election campaign, in effect to keep an eye on Norman Tebbit whom she suspected to be more interested in advancing his claims on the leadership. He was in charge of organising Mrs Thatcher's tours and appearances on television. One week before polling day on 4 June 1987, Young and Tebbit had a major disagreement about the campaign strategy, a day nicknamed 'Wobbly Thursday'. It is claimed that Young grabbed Tebbit by the lapels and said "Norman, listen to me, we are about to lose this fucking election".[1]

Trade and Industry

After the election, Tebbit announced his retirement from the government and Young was promoted to Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. He was a somewhat stiff figure in public whom Private Eye nicknamed 'Lord Suit'. He served two years in the role and privatised the last of the state industries in the department. In May 1989 he told the Prime Minister he would like to return to private life. He resigned from the Cabinet in 1989 but received an appointment as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party to help Kenneth Baker reorganise Central Office and stood down on the resignation of Margaret Thatcher.

Later business career

Young then went back to business as a Director of Salomon Inc. and Executive Chairman of Cable and Wireless. From 1993 he was President of the Institute of Directors and from 1995 was Chairman of Council of University College, London. Young was the first President of Jewish Care (1990–1997).

He retired from Cable & Wireless in 1995 and in 1996 he set up his own company, Young Associates Ltd, with two partners Simon Alberga and Yoav Kurtzbard, that actively invests in technology companies. Outside Young Associates he has a number of business interests. He is Chairman and controlling shareholder of the Camcon Federation of companies, a Cambridge based federation of companies with innovative technology in the Oil and Gas, Auto and Medical fields. He is controlling shareholder and on the board of TSSI Systems Ltd, a long established company in security technology and in both these companies he works with Danny Chapchal. He is a substantial shareholder and Chairman of Deep Tek Ltd a company with developed technology to enable operations in deep and ultra deep waters in the Oil and Gas sectors and in scientific exploration. He is a substantial shareholder and Chairman of KashFlow Software Ltd, a leading provider of online accounting for SMEs.

Charity interests

He also has a number of pro bono or charitable interests including the Presidency of Chai Cancer Care and the Coram Trust, Chairman of the Chichester Festival Theatre and of the Jewish Museum and Trustee of the Co-Existence Trust and the MBI Al Jaber Foundation. In December 2010, he also became a Patron of Lifelites, the charity providing technology for children in hospices.

2010 coalition government

In June 2010, Young was appointed advisor to the Prime Minister by the coalition government to review health and safety laws:[2]

"To investigate and report back to the Prime Minister on the rise of the compensation culture over the last decade coupled with the current low standing that health and safety legislation now enjoys and to suggest solutions. Following the agreement of the report, to work with appropriate departments across government to bring the proposals into effect."[3] See report 'Common Sense Common Safety' below. In July, he moved from the Cabinet Office to Number 10.

In October, he was appointed Enterprise Advisor to the Prime Minister and asked to conduct a "brutal" review of the relationship of government to small firms.

In November 2010, David Young was obliged to apologise for having told the Daily Telegraph that, "For the vast majority of people in the country today, they have never had it so good ever since this recession - this so-called recession - started..." [4] He later resigned. The government later abandoned the "we are all in this together" line.[5]


Young's political autobiography, The Enterprise Years, was published in 1990.

In October 2010, he released a review of workplace health and safety in the UK "Common Sense Common Safety",[6] which faces many of the issues and saying that businesses now operate their health and safety policies in a climate of fear because sensible health and safety rules that apply to hazardous occupations have been applied across all occupations and the excessive "enthusiasm with which often unqualified health and safety consultants have tried to eliminate all risk rather than apply the test in the Act of a ‘reasonably practicable’ approach."

He said that part of the responsibility lay with the EU's 1989 Framework Directive, which made risk assessments compulsory across all occupations, whether hazardous or not. Within days of the release of the review, all health and safety stories in the press ceased.


Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Drumalbyn
Minister without Portfolio
Succeeded by
Jeremy Hanley
Preceded by
Tom King
Secretary of State for Employment
Succeeded by
Norman Fowler
Preceded by
Paul Channon
Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
Succeeded by
Nicholas Ridley

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