Florence Horsburgh


Florence Gertrude Horsburgh, Baroness Horsburgh, GBE, PC (13 October 1889 – 6 December 1969) was a Scottish Unionist Party and Conservative Party politician.

She was educated at Lansdowne House, Edinburgh, St Hilda’s, Folkestone, and Mills College, California.

During the First World War, Horsburgh pioneered a travelling kitchen scheme in Chelsea, London, which gained sufficient renown as to warrant an invitation to bring the kitchen to Buckingham Palace one lunch hour to entertain Queen Mary, who approved particularly of the sweets.

Horsburgh was a Member of Parliament (MP) for Dundee from 1931 until her defeat in 1945. She was the first woman to move the Address in reply to the King's Speech. She unsuccessfully contested Midlothian and Peebles in 1950 and was elected in the delayed poll at Manchester Moss Side, sitting from 1950 until her retirement in 1959. On retirement she was elevated to the House of Lords, as a life peer with the title Baroness Horsburgh, of Horsburgh in the County of Peebles, where she sat until her death.

She held ministerial office in the wartime coalition governments as Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (1939–45), and Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food (1945). As Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health,1939–45, she was responsible for arranging the evacuation of schoolchildren from major cities during the war. Following her return to the House of Commons she was the first woman to hold a Cabinet post in a Conservative government, and only the third woman, after Bondfield and Wilkinson to be appointed Cabinet minister in Britain's history (1953-1954), having been appointed Minister of Education in 1951. She also served as a delegate to the Council of Europe and Western European Union from 1955 until 1960.

As part of her lifelong championing of social welfare issues, Horsburgh took a marked interest in child welfare and introduced, as a private member, the bill which became the Adoption of Children (Regulation) Act 1939. Horsburgh also carried out a great deal of preparatory work on the scheme which eventually became the National Health Service.

She was appointed MBE in 1920, promoted to CBE in 1939, and to GBE in 1954. She was appointed a Privy Counsellor in 1945.

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