Bernard Braine

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Person.png Bernard Braine  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Bernard Braine.jpg
Born24 June 1914
Died5 January 2000 (Age 85)

Bernard Richard Braine, Baron Braine of Wheatley[1] was a Conservative Party politician in the United Kingdom. He was a Member of Parliament (MP) for 42 years, from 1950 to 1992, representing constituencies in Essex.

Early life

He was educated at Hendon County Grammar School,[2] and served with the North Staffordshire Regiment in the Second World War, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

Parliamentary career

Having stood unsuccessfully for Leyton East in 1945, Braine was elected as MP for Billericay at the 1950 general election. When constituency boundaries were revised for the 1955 election he was returned for the new South East Essex constituency, and when that constituency was abolished for the 1983 general election, he was elected for the new Castle Point constituency, becoming Father of the House of Commons in 1987 after James Callaghan's elevation to the House of Lords.

During his long parliamentary career, Braine was a junior Minister variously for Pensions, Commonwealth Relations and Health.[3]

He was chairman of the National Council on Alcoholism, and author of the report Alcohol and Work (1977), widely known as the Braine Report.[4] He was a member of the Parliamentary Groups on Human Rights and against abortion. For many years he was an unofficial ambassador of HM's government to the Polish Government-in-Exile in London. He was knighted in the 1972 New Year Honours, and appointed as a Privy Counsellor in 1985.

Braine championed many causes involving oppressed people. Among them was the Campaign for the Defence of the Unjustly Prosecuted, of which he was President and later Chairman during 1980-1987.[5] In this capacity and in collaboration with the exiled journalist Josef Josten, he campaigned vigorously for the release from prison of the dissident playwright Vaclav Havel, who later became President of the Czech Republic. He was decorated by Havel at a ceremony in Prague Castle on 28 October 1995.

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  2. "Lord Braine of Wheatley". The Times. 6 January 2000. p. 21.
  4. Institute of Alcohol Studies: 'In Memoriam Bernard Braine', 2000.
  5. Polišenska, Milada (2009). "Zapomenutý Nepřitel (Forgotten Enemy) - Josef Josten". Prague: Libri. pp. 582 ff.
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