Nigel Vinson

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Nigel Vinson (born 27 January 1931) is a British businessman, member of the House of Lords and right-wing operative. [1] He was created a life peer as Baron Vinson of Roddam Dene in the County of Northumberland On 7 February 1985. Vinson made his fortune from the company Plastic Coatings[2] and he helped set up the Centre for Policy Studies with Keith Joseph, Alfred Sherman and Margaret Thatcher.[3]


Nigel Vinson was the son of a farmer and was educated at the Nautical College in Pangbourne. He served in the Queen's Royal Regiment from 1948 to 1950, reaching the rank of lieutenant.[4] He was director of the Sugar Board from 1968 to 1975, director of British Airports Authority from 1973 to 1980, and director of the Barclays Bank from 1982 to 1987.[5]He is co-founder of the Centre for Policy Studies, for which he worked between 1974 and 1980. He was also chairman and deputy chairman of various firms and trusts.[6]

From 1976 to 1978 he was Honorary Director at the Queen's Silver Jubilee Appeal and was member of the Northumbrian National Parks and Countryside Committee between 1977 and 1987. In 1985 he was made a life peer as Baron Vinson, of Roddam Dene in the County of Northumberland.[7] Vinson was the chairman of the Rural Development Commission, 'England's rural development agency' between 1980-1990.[8][9]

Corporate activism and think tanks

In 1972 Vinson was a Council member of the corporate propaganda body Aims of Industry.[10] In May 1972 Vinson started the process of creating the Nigel Vinson Charitable Trust which was registered with the Charity Commission in January 1973.[11] Vinson was appointed treasurer of the Centre for Policy Studies at its foundation in 1974.[12]

Centre for Policy Studies

In 1984 Vinson attended a meeting of Margaret Thatcher's closest advisors organised by the Centre for Policy Studies. Vinson was to be the chairman of the research on the topic of 'personal capital formation'. The overall research program was to be coordinated by Elizabeth Cottrell and it contained 18 policy groups - each with 10 members, made up from politicians, academics and businessmen. The other significant groups were:

  • Trade-union reform -- chaired by Sir Leonard Neal, once an official of the transport and general workers' union, later on the British Rail board and then chairman of the commission on industrial relations under Edward Heath.
  • Defence -- chaired by Professor Reginald Victor Jones of the University of Aberdeen, who wrote the definitive account of Britain's wartime secret "Ultra" decoder.
  • Education -- chaired by Baroness Cox, another academic and a strong supporter of selective rather than comprehensive education.

Views and activities


In April 1983, the Centre for Policy Studies published a pamphlet by Vinson, then a deputy chairman of Barclays Bank. Entitled Personal and Portable Pensions for All, it challenged the role of workplace pensions. The concept of personal pensions was taken up by the Conservative Government's review group in the face of opposition from the Labour Party, which argued that they would lead to mis-selling and many would end up worse off.[14]


On the subject of Europe Vinson argued in 1997 that 'Without serious debate, we shall have so stretched the democratic elastic that it will surely snap. Like the French lorry-drivers, people may resort to taking the law into their own hands. It is precisely because Eurosceptics like myself seek peace coupled with prosperity that we are fearful of the consequences of a fully federated Europe'.[15]


Vinson strongly opposed the fox hunting ban describing it, in 2004, as a 'vindictive, unscrutinised and inappropriate piece of legislation unworthy of our great British tradition of fair play and the tolerance of other people's views.'[16]

HS2 Cannot be Justified

HS2 Cannot be Justified is the title of a March 2011 open letter to the Telegraph, organised by the Taxpayers' Alliance opposing the construction of a £30 billion high speed rail line. Nigel Vinson is one of the signatories[17]


External Resources


  1. Margaret Thatcher & the Centre for Policy Studies, 1974-79, Margaret Thatcher Foundation, accessed 21 April 2010.
  2. Michael Gillard And David Leigh, TORY PARTY DONORS LINE UP FOR SELL-OFF BARGAINS, The Observer, 4-August-1996
  3. Keith Joseph, Our debt to a slayer of sacred cows, The Times, 25-March-1992
  4. Liz Hands, Lord Vinson, The Journal, 3-November-2009
  5. Liz Hands, Lord Vinson, The Journal, 3-November-2009
  6. Liz Hands, Lord Vinson, The Journal, 3-November-2009
  7. Liz Hands, Lord Vinson, The Journal, 3-November-2009
  8. Rural Development, Financial Signpost / Rural development, the Guardian, 26-October-1984
  9. Nigel Vinson, Urgent relief for rural hardship, The Times, 20-March-2001
  10. 10.0 10.1 Aims of Industry 30 years of Aims of Industry London: Aims of Industry 1972.
  11. Charity Commission Charity Framework, accessed 5 May 2011.
  12. Margaret Thatcher & the Centre for Policy Studies, 1974-79, Margaret Thatcher Foundation, accessed 21 April 2010.
  13. World Politics, Mrs Thatcher starts to plan for her third term, The Economist, 21-January-1984
  14. Nic Cicutti, The great pensions scandal: When you get to their age, you may not have enough to live on. Nick Cicutti investigates. . ., Sunday Independent, 22 May 1994.
  15. Nigel Vinson, CBI challenged on its EMU policy, The Times, 15-November-1997
  16. Zoe Hughes, MPs urged to oppose hunt ban, The Journal, 3-November-2004
  17. Patrick Barbour et al., HS2 Cannot be Justified, the Telegraph, 10-March-2011
  18. Taxpayers' alliance Prominent supporters, Accessed 18 November 2010