Sir Edward du Cann, the former Conservative Party Chairman and MP for Taunton, has died at the age of 93. Du Cann was also the Chairman of the influential backbench 1922 committee from 1972 until 1984 and Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee from 1974 until 1979.
Du Cann was born in 1924 and was educated at Woodbridge School in Suffolk and St. John’s College at Oxford University. He served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, before entering business following the end of the conflict.
Du Cann unsuccessfully contested the constituencies of Walthamstow West in 1951 and Barrow-in-Furness in 1955, before being elected as the MP for Taunton at a 1956 by-election. He made his maiden speech in the House of Commons on 23 April 1956. He served as the Economic Secretary to the Treasury from 1962 until 1963 and as a Minister of State at the Board of Trade from 1963 until 1964.
Following two General Election defeats in 1974, there was pressure on the then party leader, Edward Heath, to stand down. An infamous meeting of the 1922 committee took place at du Cann’s house in London, with the backbench mood shifting towards the need to elect a new leader of the Conservative Party.
Du Cann was from the right-wing of the Conservative Party and there were rumours that he would stand in the leadership contest which was later won by Margaret Thatcher. Du Cann retired from the House of Commons in 1987 and returned to business, later becoming the chairman of Lonrho.