Judith Hart

Constance Mary Hart, Baroness Hart of South Lanark, DBE, PC (née Ridehalgh; 18 September 1924 – 8 December 1991), known as Judith Hart, was a British Labour Party politician. She served as a government minister during the 1960s and 1970s before entering the House of Lords in 1988.

The Baroness Hart of South Lanark

Chair of the National Executive Committee
In office
24 November 1981  24 November 1982
LeaderMichael Foot
Preceded byAlex Kitson
Succeeded bySam McCluskie
Minister for Overseas Development
In office
21 February 1977  3 May 1979
Prime MinisterJames Callaghan
Preceded byFrank Judd
Succeeded byNeil Marten
In office
7 April 1974  10 June 1975
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded byRichard Wood
Succeeded byReg Prentice
In office
6 October 1969  19 June 1970
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded byReg Prentice
Succeeded byRichard Wood
Shadow Minister for Overseas Development
In office
4 May 1979  8 December 1980
LeaderJames Callaghan
Preceded byRichard Luce
Succeeded byFrank McElhone
In office
19 June 1970  7 April 1974
LeaderHarold Wilson
Preceded byBernard Braine
Succeeded byRichard Wood
In office
1 November 1968  6 October 1969
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded byThe Lord Shackleton
Succeeded byHarold Lever
Minister of Social Security
In office
26 July 1967  1 November 1968
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded byPeggy Herbison
Succeeded byRichard Crossman (as Secretary of State for Social Services)
Minister of State for Commonwealth Affairs
In office
6 April 1966  26 July 1967
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded byCledwyn Hughes
Succeeded byGeorge Thomas
Under-Secretary of State for Scotland
In office
20 October 1964  6 April 1966
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded byAnthony Stodart
Succeeded byBruce Millan
Member of Parliament
for Clydesdale
Lanark (1959–1983)
In office
8 October 1959  11 June 1987
Preceded byPatrick Francis Maitland
Succeeded byJimmy Hood
Personal details
Constance Mary Ridehalgh

(1924-09-18)18 September 1924
Burnley, Lancashire, UK
Died8 December 1991(1991-12-08) (aged 67)
London, UK
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Anthony Bernard ("Tony") Hart
Alma materLondon School of Economics
University of London

Early life and education

She was educated at Clitheroe Royal Grammar School, the London School of Economics and the University of London. She adopted the name Judith aged twelve. She married Anthony Bernard Hart in 1946. She was a lecturer at a teacher training college. She was a member of the Fabian Society and a branch secretary of the Association of Scientific Workers.

Political career

After joining the Labour Party aged 18, Hart was unsuccessful Labour candidate for Bournemouth West in 1951, and Aberdeen South in 1955. She was elected as member for Lanark in 1959, holding the seat until 1983. Thereafter she sat for Clydesdale until 1987.

She held ministerial office as joint Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland from 1964 to 1966, Minister of State, Commonwealth Office (1966–1967), Minister of Social Security (1967–68), Paymaster-General (with a seat in the Cabinet) from 1968 to 1969, and as Minister of Overseas Development from 1969 to 1970, 1974 to 1975 (when she resigned) and 1977 to 1979. In so doing, she became the fifth woman ever to have been included in a government cabinet in the history of Britain.

In opposition, Hart was frontbench spokesman on overseas aid from 1979 to 1980. She was Co-Chairman of the Women's National Commission (appointed by the government) from 1969 to 1970. Within the Labour Party she was a member of the National Executive Committee from 1969 to 1983, serving as Vice-Chairman in 1980–81, and as Chairman in 1981-82.[1]

She was appointed a Privy Counsellor in 1967, and appointed a DBE in 1979.[2]

On 8 February 1988, she was created a life peer, as Baroness Hart of South Lanark, of Lanark in the County of Lanark.[3]


She died of cancer at the Queen Mary's Hospital, Roehampton, London, in 1991, aged 67.[4]

Titles and honours

  • Miss Judith Ridehalgh (1936–1946)
  • Mrs Judith Hart (1946–1959)
  • Judith Hart MP (1959–1967)
  • The Rt. Hon. Judith Hart MP (1967–1979)
  • The Rt. Hon. Dame Judith Hart DBE MP (1979–1988)
  • The Rt. Hon. The Baroness Hart of South Lanark DBE PC (1988–1991)



Sutherland, Duncan (May 2008). "Hart, Judith, Baroness Hart of South Lanark (1924–1991)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/49767. Retrieved 6 September 2009.(subscription or UK public library membership required)

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Patrick Maitland
Member of Parliament for Lanark
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Clydesdale
Succeeded by
Jimmy Hood
Political offices
Preceded by
Peggy Herbison
Minister of Social Security
Succeeded by
Richard Crossman
as Secretary of State for Social Services
Preceded by
The Lord Shackleton
Succeeded by
Harold Lever
Preceded by
Reg Prentice
Minister of Overseas Development
Succeeded by
Richard Wood
Preceded by
Richard Wood
Minister for Overseas Development
Succeeded by
Reg Prentice
Preceded by
Frank Judd
Minister for Overseas Development
Succeeded by
Neil Marten
Party political offices
Preceded by
Alex Kitson
Chair of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Sam McCluskie
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