David Ennals, Baron Ennals

David Ennals, Baron Ennals
The Right Honourable
The Lord Ennals
Secretary of State for Social Services
In office
8 April 1976 – 4 May 1979
Prime Minister James Callaghan
Preceded by Barbara Castle
Succeeded by Patrick Jenkin
In office
28 February 1974 – 9 June 1983
Preceded by George Wallace
Succeeded by Patrick Thompson
Member of Parliament
for Dover
In office
15 October 1964 – 18 June 1970
Preceded by John Arbuthnot
Succeeded by Peter Rees
Personal details
Born 19 August 1922(1922-08-19)
Walsall, United Kingdom
Died 17 June 1995(1995-06-17) (aged 72)
Belsize Park, United Kingdom
Political party Labour

David Hedley Ennals, Baron Ennals PC (19 August 1922 – 17 June 1995) was a British Labour Party politician and campaigner for human rights. He served as Secretary of State for Social Services from 1976 to 1979.


Early life and military career

Born in 1922 to Arthur Ford Ennals and his wife Jessie Edith Taylor, Ennals was educated at Queen Mary's Grammar School, Walsall and the Loomis Institute in Windsor, Connecticut on a one-year student exchange scholarship.[1] In 1939 he was a reporter on the Walsall Observer and during World War II he served in the Royal Armoured Corps from 1941 to 1945. Commissioned into Reconnaissance Corps in 1942[2] and posted to 3rd Reconnaissance Corps.[3] He served in North Africa, Italy and the Rhine Crossing[citation needed]. He was captured during the Normandy campaign in June 1944[4] and spent several months as a prisoner of war.[5] He was invalided out with the rank of Lieutenant.[6]

Political life

Ennals stood unsuccessfully as a Liberal candidate for Richmond (Surrey) in the 1950 general election and again in 1951.[7] He later joined the Labour Party and served as secretary to the international department at the Labour Party's head office.

In 1964 he was elected as the Member of Parliament for Dover. Following the 1966 election, Harold Wilson appointed Ennals as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Army. He moved to become Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department in 1967 under James Callaghan before being appointed as a Minister of State for Social Services in 1968. He lost his government post and his seat following Labour's defeat in the 1970 general election.

Ennals returned to parliament representing Norwich North following the February 1974 general election as was appointed Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. In 1976 he became Secretary of State for Social Services,[8] which he held until Labour lost power in 1979. During his tenure he appointed Sir Douglas Black to produce the Black Report (published in 1980) into health inequality. After losing his seat in the general election of 1983, he was created a life peer, as Baron Ennals, of Norwich in the County of Norfolk.[9]

He may be the only politician to be remembered for telling the truth and being laughed at for it. In a debate on health inequalities he told the House of Commons that "people who smoke cigarettes are going to die" - and a Member sang the line from "Fame": "I'm gonna live forever". The House collapsed in laughter and Ennals never quite lived the joke down.

Other work

Following his exit from parliament in 1970, Ennals became Campaign Director for the National Association for Mental Health (MIND), which he served as until 1973. He became Chairman in 1984, and served as President from 1989 to 1995.

After serving as secretary to the United Nations Association from 1952 to 1957, he became Chairman in 1984, as well as Chairman of the Gandhi Foundation, which he held until 1995.

Personal life

Ennals married Eleanor Maud Caddick (born 1924/1925) on 10 June 1950, and they had four children before they divorced in 1977. Later that year he married Katherine Gene Tranoy (born 1926/1927).

Ennals's younger brother, Martin Ennals, was a human rights activist and Secretary-General of Amnesty International. His son, Sir Paul Ennals, is chief executive of the National Children's Bureau.

He died in 1995 of pancreatic cancer at his home in Belsize Park, London.


  1. ^ Who was Who, OUP 2007
  2. ^ London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35746. p. 4483. 13 October 1942.
  3. ^ War Diaries of 3rd Reconnaissance Corps (TNA ref. WO166/10487)
  4. ^ War Diaries of 3rd Reconnaissance Corps (TNA ref. WO 171/418)
  5. ^ Who's Who of 475 Liberal Candidates Fighting the 1950 General Election. Liberal Publications Dept. 1950.
  6. ^ London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 38051. p. 3938. 19 August 1947.
  7. ^ UK General Election results: October 1951
  8. ^ House of Commons Library: Members Since 1979
  9. ^ London Gazette: no. 49477. p. 12063. 14 September 1983. Retrieved 2009-09-13.


External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Arbuthnot
Member of Parliament for Dover
Succeeded by
Peter Rees
Preceded by
George Wallace
Member of Parliament for Norwich North
Succeeded by
Patrick Thompson
Political offices
Preceded by
Barbara Castle
Secretary of State for Social Services
Succeeded by
Patrick Jenkin

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