Biographical / Historical
Wayland Hilton Young was born in 1923, the son of Sir Edward Hilton Young (created 1st Baron Kennet in 1935) and Kathleen Scott (the widow of Captain Robert Falcon Scott). Sir Peter Scott, the ornithologist and conservationist, was Wayland Young’s half-brother.
Young was educated at Stowe School and Trinity College, Cambridge. He later studied in Perugia and at Harvard. He served in the Royal Navy (1942-45) and twice in the Foreign Office (1946-47 & 1949-51) before working as a journalist and author. He was a correspondent in Rome and North Africa for the "Observer" and a columnist for "The Guardian" and the theatre critic for "Tribune". He was also the editor of "Disarmament and Arms Control" from 1962-65.
He married Elizabeth Ann Adams in 1948 and they collaborated on a number of books, including "Old London churches" (1956) and "The rebirth of Britain" (1982). In total he wrote eighteen books, including three novels and works on political scandal, Italian politics, the sexual revolution of the 1960s, conservation and preservation policy, disarmament and arms control.
He succeeded to the title of Baron Kennet in 1960 on the death of his father and took his seat in the House of Lords in 1964, after initially contemplating renouncing his peerage. He had joined the Labour Party in 1956 over Suez and served in government from the Lords as Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Housing and Local Government from 1966-70 and as Opposition Spokesman on Foreign Affairs and Science Policy from 1971-74. He was also a delegate to the Western European Union, the Council of Europe, and was a member of the European Parliament from 1978-79.
Young joined the Social Democratic Party in 1981 and served as their Chief Whip in the House of Lords until 1983 and as SDP spokesman in the Lords on Foreign Affairs and Defence 1981-90. After the Party merged with the Liberals, he declined to join and eventually returned to the Labour Party in the 1990. Following the House of Lords Act of 1999, and subsequent elections among Labour’s hereditary peers, he lost his place in the Lords.
Throughout his life he played an active role in public life and was appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (1970), Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Oil Pollution of the Sea (1970-74), Chairman of the Council for the Protection of Rural England (1971-72), member of the Redundant Churches Fund (1978-84), President of the Architecture Club (1983-94), Vice-Chairman of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology 1990-93, member of Unesco's International Bioethics Committee (1994-98) and as a member of the North Atlantic Assembly (1997-99)
Young was also the founding secretary of the campaign for the abolition of theatre censorship, a campaigner for listed buildings (which included St Pancras station) and chairman of the Avebury Society and the Stonehenge Alliance, as well as Patron of Action for the River Kennet. Throughout his life he lived in his family’s house on Bayswater Road which had once belonged to JM Barrie, a friend of his mother's. Lord Kennet died in 2009 and his wife, Lady Kennet, in 2014.