Roy Mason

From Academic Kids

Roy Mason, Baron Mason (born April 18, 1924) is a British politician and former Cabinet minister.

He was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire. The small, pipe-smoking, former coal miner first went down the mines at the age of fourteen and remained in the coal industry until 1953 when he was elected Labour MP for Barnsley. He was Labour Party spokesman on Home Affairs, Defence and Post Office, 1960-1964. Minister of State at the Board of Trade, 1964-1967. Minister of Defence (Equipment), 1967-1968. Minister of Power, 1968-1969. President of the Board of Trade, 1969-1970. Secretary of State for Defence, 1974-1976.

A high-profile politician, his appointment to Northern Ireland was unexpected and seemed to indicate a tougher response from the British Government than that pursued by his predecessor, Merlyn Rees.

This turned out to be the case. While Secretary of State for Defence he had been responsible for the introduction of SAS units into the 'bandit country' of South Armagh and now at Stormont this somewhat dominant politician was responsible for the tougher role taken by the security forces and authorised an increase in British Army covert tactics. Also the SAS were allowed to operate throughout Northern Ireland.

He was also responsible for the Ulsterisation of security in that he extended the role of the RUC and the locally recruited and mainly Protestant UDR, bringing them more to the fore in security duties. The British Army, while remaining in Northern Ireland in large numbers, were to fulfil a more supportive role than before.

In 1977, unlike Merlyn Rees in 1974, he stood up to militant loyalism's attempt to repeat their successful UWC strike tactic of 1974.

In the same year he twice attempted to get some movement towards a political settlement from the local political parties but both attempts failed.

He was created a life peer as Baron Mason, of Barnsley in South Yorkshire upon his retirement from the House of Commons.


Preceded by:
Edward Short
Postmaster General
1968
Succeeded by:
John Stonehouse

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