PARKER, Herbert John Harvey (1906-1987), politician and President of the Fabian Society

Scope and Content

The Parker Papers, 1943-1982, mainly consist of comments, corrections and suggestions from those to whom John Parker sent the first thoughts of the various chapters which would eventually form the basis of his memoirs, Father of the House , published in 1982 by Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd. They also include various official related records concerned with particularly interesting or important moments from his political career. They consist mainly of correspondence, memorandums, reports and notes. These papers were all deposited upon the publication of his, previously mentioned, book of memoirs.

The collection consists of six separate series of records, ranging virtually the entire span of his time in the House of Commons. The six series reflect the way in which John Parker maintained his papers, each concerning a specific topic. These include records concerning his various literary compositions, the Legitimacy Act of 1959, Select Committee on Procedure, Speaker's Conference on Electoral Law and Sunday Observance.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Parker was born 15 July 1906 and educated at Marlborough and St John's College Oxford. He became General Secretary of the New Fabian Research Bureau in 1933 and by 1980 had been made President of the Fabian Society, emphasising his life long association with the Fabians.

He was elected as a Labour MP for Romford in 1935 and when that consituency was divided after the Second World War he held Dagenham until 1983. John Parker showed great interest in his constituency, being particularly involved with the Ford factory there and its relationship with the community. John Parker was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Dominions Office during the Government of Clement Attlee in 1945, his Parliamentary private secretary being James Callaghan. He was, however, dismissed from his position in 1946 over his views concerning South African Protectorates. This loss of office enabled John Parker to exert an influence from the back benches, serving on several Speaker's Conferences and also the Procedure Committee 1966-1973.

John Parker drew an early place in the ballot for Private Members' Bills on two occassions, being defeated in his attempt to bring in a Sunday observance measure, initiating an inquiry, and with his second bill producing the Legitimacy Act of 1959. This second bill legitimised the offspring of bigamous marriges, where one of the partners was ignorant of the situation, and also the children born while one of the partners was still married to someone else by subsequent marriage. A Bill was also introduced by John Parker, under the ten minute rule, which eventually became the Nationality (Number 2) Act of 1964, implementing the UN Convention on Statelessness. He was also a member of the Arts and Amenities Committee of the Labour Party, maintaining a particular interest in forestry and ancient buildings.

Parker frequently travelled overseas, being a member of the British-Yugoslav Parliamentary group, editing a series of Yugoslav novels in English and meeting Stalin in the Soviet Union. He also produced a selection of books which included 42 Days in the Soviet Union (1946), Labour Marches On (1947) and his memoirs entitled Father of the House , reflecting his postion as the House of Commons' longest serving, active member.

John Parker retired in 1983 and died 24 November 1987. He was married in 1943 to Zena Mimardiere, and had one son, Michael.


The Parker papers are arranged into six series:
1. Literary papers;
2. Official papers: Legitimacy Act;
3. Official papers: Select Committee on Procedure;
4. Official papers: Speaker's Conference on Electoral Law;
5. Official papers: Sunday Observance;
6. Official papers: Other

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Other Finding Aids

Detailed catalogue available from Archives staff.

Archivist's Note

Sources: Copied from LSE Archives CALM database by Anna Towlson.

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