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Oliver Frederick George Stanley MC, PC (4 May 1896 – 10 December 1950) was a prominent British Conservative politician who held many ministerial posts before his early death when it was expected he would soon assume higher office.

Background and education

Stanley was the second son of Edward Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby, by his wife Lady Alice, daughter of William Montagu, 7th Duke of Manchester. Edward Stanley, Lord Stanley was his elder brother. He was educated at Etonmarker.

Military career

Stanley was commissioned into the Lancashire Hussars in the First World War, serving for part of it attached to the Royal Artillery, reaching the rank of captain, and winning the Military Cross.

Political career

Stanley then entered the legal profession, but in the 1924 general election he was elected as Member of Parliament for Westmorland. From 1945 he sat for Bristol Westmarker. He soon came to the attention of the Conservative leaders and held a number of posts in the National Government of the 1930s. As Minister of Transport he was responsible for the introduction of a 30 miles per hour speed limit and driving tests for new drivers. In May 1938 whilst President of the Board of Trade he achieved a rare distinction in British politics when his brother Lord Stanley became Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs - a rare example of two brothers sitting in the same Cabinet, more so as their father, a former Conservative minister, was still alive. However five months later Edward died. (Another example is David Miliband and his brother Ed Miliband who were appointed to the British Cabinet in June 2007.)

In January 1940 Stanley was appointed Secretary of State for War after the previous incumbent, Leslie Hore-Belisha, had been sacked after falling out with the leading officers. Much was expected of Stanley's tenure in this office, as his father had held it during the First World War, but four months later the government fell and Stanley was not initially given a new post in the administration of Winston Churchill. Two years later Stanley's fortunes revived when Churchill appointed him Secretary of State for the Colonies, a post which he held until the end of the war. After the Conservatives' massive defeat in the 1945 general election Stanley was prominent amongst those rebuilding the party and he came to be regarded as one of the most important Conservative MPs. Also during this period he succeeded his father as Chancellor of the University of Liverpoolmarker. By this time, however, his health was in decline and he died in December 1950. Many believe that had he lived longer he would have been appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer when the Conservatives formed a government the following year.


Stanley married Lady Maureen, daughter of Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry and the Hon. Edith Chaplin, in 1920. They had one son and one daughter. Lady Maureen died in June 1942, aged 41. Stanley survived her by eight years and died in December 1950, aged 54.


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