Fred Mulley

Frederick William Mulley, Baron Mulley, PC (3 July 1918 – 15 March 1995) was a British Labour politician, barrister-at-law and economist.

The Lord Mulley

Mulley in 1967, when a junior defence minister
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
In office
4 May 1979  14 June 1979
LeaderJim Callaghan
Preceded byIan Gilmour
Succeeded byWilliam Rodgers
Secretary of State for Defence
In office
10 September 1976  4 May 1979
Prime MinisterJim Callaghan
Preceded byRoy Mason
Succeeded byFrancis Pym
Secretary of State for Education and Science
In office
5 March 1975  10 September 1976
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Jim Callaghan
Preceded byReg Prentice
Succeeded byShirley Williams
Minister of Transport
In office
7 March 1974  5 March 1975
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded byJohn Peyton (Transport Industries)
Succeeded byJohn Gilbert
Member of Parliament
for Sheffield Park
In office
23 February 1950  9 June 1983
Preceded byThomas Burden
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Personal details
Frederick William Mulley

(1918-07-03)3 July 1918
Warwick, Warwickshire, England
Died15 March 1995(1995-03-15) (aged 76)
Lambeth, England
Political partyLabour
Alma materUniversity of London
Christ Church, Oxford
St Catharine's College, Cambridge
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch/service British Army
UnitWorcestershire Regiment
Battles/warsWorld War II

Early life

Mulley attended Warwick School between 1929 and 1936. He served in the Worcestershire Regiment in the Second World War, reaching the rank of sergeant, but was captured in 1940 and spent five years as a prisoner of war in Germany. During this time he obtained a BSc in economics from University of London as an external student and became a chartered secretary.[1]

At the end of the war, he received an adult scholarship to Christ Church, Oxford, and after a brief spell on an economics fellowship at the University of Cambridge (1948–50) he trained as a barrister, being called to the Bar in 1954.

Parliamentary career

Mulley had been a member of the Labour Party since 1936 and at the 1945 general election he unsuccessfully contested the constituency of Sutton Coldfield. He became Member of Parliament for Sheffield Park in 1950, a position he held until deselected by his local party prior to the 1983 general election.

During a long career in politics he held many ministerial positions including Minister of Aviation (1965–67), Minister for Disarmament (1967–69), and Minister of Transport (1969–70, 1974–75). While at the Transport Ministry he believed it would be inappropriate to be seen to be a car driver. Although he owned an Austin Maxi, his wife was the sole user of it during this period.[2]

In 1975 Harold Wilson brought him to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Education and Science, and in 1976 became Secretary of State for Defence.

He fell asleep during the Queen's Jubilee Review of the Royal Air Force at RAF Finningley in 1977 when there was considerable noise around him. Having a small sleep during exercise was referred to by members of the RAF as having a "Fred Mulley". It was suggested in the satirical magazine Private Eye that Mulley was guilty of treason (then still a capital offence) for having slept with the Queen.

House of Lords

After retiring from the House of Commons in 1983, he was created a life peer as Baron Mulley, of Manor Park in the City of Sheffield on 30 January 1984,[3] and he held a variety of directorial positions.

Styles of address

  • 19181950: Mr Fred Mulley
  • 19501964: Mr Fred Mulley MP
  • 19641983: The Rt Hon. Fred Mulley MP
  • 19831984: The Rt Hon. Fred Mulley
  • 19841995: The Rt Hon. The Lord Mulley PC


A main road in the Lower Don Valley in Sheffield is named after him.


  1. Worcestershire Regiment (29th/36th of Foot) Web site
  2. "Election special: Who's hand on the wheel?". Autocar. 141 (nbr 4067): Pages 39–40. 5 October 1974.
  3. "No. 49636". The London Gazette. 2 February 1984. p. 1499.
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Thomas Burden
Member of Parliament
for Sheffield Park

Constituency abolished
Political offices
Preceded by
John Peyton
as Minister of State for Transport Industries
Minister of Transport
Succeeded by
John Gilbert
Preceded by
Reg Prentice
Secretary of State for Education and Science
Succeeded by
Shirley Williams
Preceded by
Roy Mason
Secretary of State for Defence
Succeeded by
Francis Pym
Preceded by
Ian Gilmour
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
Succeeded by
William Rodgers
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jim Callaghan
Chair of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Tom Bradley
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