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Howe, Sir (Richard Edward) Geoffrey, Baron (1926–)

Subject History

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


British Chancellor of the Exchequer (1979–83) and Foreign Secretary (1983–9). The son of a Welsh solicitor, he was educated at Winchester and Cambridge University, where he took a degree in law and was called to the Bar in 1952. He was elected as a Conservative Member of Parliament in 1964 and in the heath government (1970–4) was Solicitor-General and then in charge of Consumer Affairs with a seat in the cabinet. A supporter of Heath's incomes policy, he was on the liberal wing of the party, favouring reform of race relations and equal opportunities for women. He was a candidate in the 1975 conservative party leadership election but was defeated by Margaret Thatcher. When the Conservatives won the 1979 election Thatcher made him Chancellor of the Exchequer. Reliable and industrious, he rejected key-nesianism, the dominant economic philosophy since the Second World War, and was a convert to monetarism, the belief that inflation could be controlled by restricting the money supply. If that was done, neither changes in taxes nor wages would increase inflation; high wage settlements would simply mean that workers priced themselves out of a job. In his first budget in 1979 Howe cut the basic rate of tax from 33 per cent to 30 per cent and the top rate from 83 per cent to 60 per cent. To pay for this VAT was raised from 8 per cent to 15 per cent in a move from direct to indirect taxation, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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