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Malcolm St Clair
|Member of Parliament|
for Bristol South East
4 May 1961 – 31 July 1963
|Preceded by||Tony Benn|
|Succeeded by||Tony Benn|
Malcolm Archibald James St Clair
16 February 1927
|Died||1 February 2004(aged 76)|
Mary-Jean Rosalie Alice Hargreaves
|Children||Hugh Alan Charles (1957), Andrew David Paul (1960), and Vanessa Alice Rosabelle (1971)|
|Alma mater||Eton College|
|Unit||Territorial Army, Royal Armoured Corps, Royal Scots Greys, Royal Gloucestershire Hussars|
In 1955, he stood unsuccessfully as a Conservative candidate at the London County Council elections, in Islington East. At the 1959 general election he stood as Conservative candidate in Bristol South East, but he lost to the sitting Labour Member of Parliament Tony Benn (then known as Anthony Wedgwood Benn), whose majority was nearly 6,000 votes. However, in November 1960 Benn's father died and Benn inherited his peerage as Viscount Stansgate, with an automatic seat in the House of Lords. This disqualified Benn from sitting in the House of Commons, triggering a by-election on 4 May 1961. Benn, who wished to be allowed to disclaim his peerage, defied his inability to sit in the Commons by standing at the election, and he and St Clair were the only two candidates. St Clair's campaign displayed posters near every polling station warning voters that Benn was disqualified and that any votes for him would have no effect. Benn nevertheless won the election with nearly 70% of the votes and an increased majority of over 13,000.[better source needed] However, an Election Court considered what to do about the result, found that Benn was disqualified from being elected and that the voters were aware of this, and awarded the seat to St. Clair as the only duly qualified candidate. (At the time, St Clair was himself Master of Sinclair – heir presumptive (1957–1968) to his second cousin Charles St Clair, 17th Lord Sinclair, one of the representative peers for Scotland in the House of Lords.)
Outside Parliament, Benn continued to campaign for a change in the law to allow him to disclaim his peerage and return to the Commons, and eventually the Conservative government agreed. The Peerage Act 1963, making such a change in the law, was given the Royal Assent and became law shortly after 6 p.m. on 31 July 1963. Benn was the first peer to disclaim his title, at 6.22 p.m. that day. St Clair had already given an undertaking that he would respect the wishes of the people of Bristol if Benn became eligible to take his seat again, so he immediately resigned by accepting the office of Steward of the Manor of Northstead. This triggered another by-election at which St Clair did not stand, and indeed there was no Conservative or Liberal candidate. On 20 August 1963, Benn was returned to the Commons with nearly 80% of the votes.[better source needed]
He died on 1 February 2004, aged 76.
In June 1955, St Clair married Rosalie Alice, daughter of Wing-Commander C.L. Hargreaves and granddaughter of Alice Liddell. He lived at Upton House, Tetbury, Gloucestershire, and 28 Chesham Place, London. He was a member of the Cavalry Club.
- M. Stenton and S. Lees (eds), Who's Who of British Members of Parliament: Volume IV 1945–1979, Harvester Press, 1981, p. 325
- Malcolm St Clair's election literature, 1961
- "UK General Election results: October 1959". Psr.keele.ac.uk. 23 June 2016. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
- 1961 By Elections
- Mosley, Charles (ed.) Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition. (Wilmington, Delaware: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003), vol. 1, p. 1056 & vol. 3, pp. 3627–3629.
- Zander, Michael (11 April 2014). "How to lose a title". New Law Journal. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- "From the archive, 1 August 1963: Mr Benn hustles to make history". The Guardian. 1 August 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
- 1963 By Elections
- St Clair, Vanessa (5 June 2001). "A girl like Alice". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament for Bristol South East
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