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The Papers of Tam Dalyell

Reference Code: GBR/0014/TADA

Scope and Contents

The papers comprise correspondence, subject files, visit files, literary papers, diaries and audio-visual material.


  • Creation: 1936 - 2008


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holder and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Biographical / Historical

Tam Dalyell was born on 9 August 1932, the son of Gordon Loch (who later took the name of Gordon Dalyell of the Binns) and Eleanor Dalyell, who succeeded her father as the 10th Baronet. He was educated at Eton College and King’s College, Cambridge, and then studied at Moray House Teachers’ Training College, Edinburgh. In 1963 he married Kathleen Dalyell, with whom he has a son and a daughter.

After his National Service in the Royal Scots Greys, 1950-52, he worked as a teacher at Bo’ness High School, 1956-60, also standing unsuccessfully as the Labour candidate for Roxburgh, Selkirk, and Peebles in 1959. His next teaching position was as Deputy-Director of Studies on the Ship School Dunera, 1961-62, then in 1962 he was elected as MP for West Lothian (later Linlithgow), a seat which he held until he retired from Parliament in 2005.

His political career included the following posts: Member of the Public Accounts Committee, House of Commons, 1962-66; Secretary, Labour Party Standing Conference on the Sciences, 1962-64; Parliamentary Private Secretary to Richard Crossman, Minister of Housing, Leader of the House of Commons and Secretary of State for the Social Services, 1964-70; Opposition Spokesman on Science, 1980-82. He also worked as a political columnist for New Scientist magazine from 1967.

He served as Chairman for the following committees: Labour Education Committee, 1964-65; Labour Sports Group, 1964-74; and the Labour Foreign Affairs Group, 1974-75. He was also Vice-Chairman of the following: Labour Defence and Foreign Affairs Groups, 1972-74; Scottish Labour Group of MPs, 1973-75; the Parliamentary Labour Party, November 1974; and the Sub-Committee on Public Accounts. He was a member of: the Labour Party National Executive Committee, 1986-87; the European Parliament, 1975-79; European Parliament Budget Committee, 1976-79; European Parliament Energy Committee, 1979; House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology, 1967-69; Liaison Committee between Cabinet and the Labour Party, 1974-76; Council, National Trust for Scotland; and the Scottish Council for Development and Industry Trade Delegation to China, November 1971.

He became Father of the House (the MP with the longest unbroken service in the House of Commons) in 2001, after the retirement of Sir Edward Heath. He died on 26 January 2017.

His publications include: The Case of Ship-Schools, 1960; Ship-School Dunera, 1963; Devolution: the end of Britain?, 1977; One Man’s Falklands, 1982; A Science Policy for Britain, 1983; Thatcher’s Torpedo, 1983; Misrule, 1987; Dick Crossman: a portrait, 1989; and his memoir, The Importance of Being Awkward 2011.


343 archive box(es)

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

The collection has been catalogued and the catalogue is available in the reading room at Churchill Archives Centre and at the National Register of Archives in Kew.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were deposited on loan at Churchill Archives Centre by Tam Dalyell in 2007 and 2010.

Related Materials

Most of Tam Dalyell's papers relating to Devolution are held by the National Library of Scotland. Some of Tam Dalyell's papers relating to Richard Crossman are held by the Modern Records Centre, Warwick University (reference: Mss. 332 DAL). Some of Tam Dalyell's papers relating to his constituency are held by West Lothian Council Archives and Records Centre.


This collection level description was prepared by Katharine Thomson, June 2009, using biographical information from Who's Who and an existing boxlist to the papers. The collection was catalogued by Sophie Bridges, August 2015.


Dalyell, Sir Thomas, 1932-2017, 11th Baronet, politician


2009-06-29 13:07:54.820000+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 336087