Trade unionist, born on 2 August 1922 at Hadley, Shropshire, the son of a farm labourer. Both parents died when he was 8. He was educated at Wellington Grammar School and Queen Mary College, London. After army service, which included the D-Day landing on a Normandy beach, he studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at New College, Oxford, where he was elected an Honorary Fellow in 1975. He joined the staff of the Trades Union Congress, serving in its economics department under George Woodcock and as its head in 1954. He succeeded Vic Feather as General Secretary 1973 - 1984, a decade which saw the 'winter of discontent' and the power of the trades unions shattered. He was a supporter of the Social Contract and of the National Economic Development Council, but his encouragement of wage restraint was defeated by the 'winter of discontent', 1978-79.
He was appointed OBE in 1966 and a member of the Privy Council in 1976. Retiring three years early in 1984, he was made a Life Peer in 1985 in recognition of his distinguished public service. He was essentially a private man who did not covet the limelight. He was a Methodist local preacher and in retirement served as Vice-Chairman and Treasurer of NCH. He died on 20 May 2004.
'As a speaker he was at his best in a small gathering, preferably with some old friend to play foil to his witticisms. He was always sure of what he was about, sometimes to the extent that the very ox-like style in which he chose to put across a piece of irony sent it clear over the heads of those unfamiliar with the mind behind it. Away from the stage, he was a warm and understanding friend.'
Times, 22 May 2004