The 5 UK prime ministers who were also Father of the House

Winston Churchill

Just five British PMs have also been Father of the House, all of whom in the 20th century.

The Father of the House is a title reserved for the member of the Commons with the longest period of service as an MP. Here are the five who were also British prime ministers.

1. Henry Campbell-Bannerman

Born in 1836, Campbell-Bannerman was first elected an MP in 1868, and became one of Britain’s last Liberal prime ministers in 1905 following Arthur Balfour’s resignation. The death of Conservative MP George Finch resulted in Campbell-Bannerman becoming Father of the House. To this date, he is the only previous British parliamentarian to have been Father of the and prime minister at the same time. His time in Britain’s top job was cut-short when he resigned due to illness in 1908.

2. David Lloyd George

Lloyd George took over as prime minister in 1916, right in the middle of World War One, and remained prime minister until 1922. He previously served as Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer, during which the government introduced its transformational liberal reforms, which included the introduction of National Insurance, state pensions and the allowance of free school meals for children.

Lloyd George did not become Father of the House until 1929, a title he held until 1945.

David Lloyd George Statue

3. Winston Churchill

This Conservative war-time giant served two terms as prime minister. The first began after Neville Chamberlain left the post at the start of World War Two, which was followed by six years in opposition during Clement Attlee’s government. His second term as prime minister began in 1951, when the Tories won a moderate majority while Labour won more votes. He eventually stepped down due to illness in 1955.

His ill-health however, did not stop him staying in the House of Commons. He became Father of the House in 1959, a title he held right up until his departure from the chamber at the 1964 election, which saw Labour return to power.

House of Commons Chamber: Speaker's table

4. James Callaghan

Callaghan is the only British parliamentarian to have served in all four Great Offices of State. Callaghan served as Harold Wilson’s chancellor, during the latter’s second spell as prime minister, before winning a leadership contest to become prime minister following Wilson’s surprise resignation in 1976. The new prime minister led the party into the 1979 election, but was defeated by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives.

Despite defeat, he remained an MP, becoming Father of the House in 1983 and keeping the title right up until the 1987 election.

1975 James Callaghan Cardiff West LP Dinner

5. Edward Heath

Heath led the Conservative party into four separate elections, but only won one. He defeated his long-time political rival Harold Wilson in 1970 and served as prime minister until 1974. At the 1975 leadership election, it was expected that Heath would continue in the party’s top job, but Margaret Thatcher stole the show and became Britain’s first female leader of a mainstream political party.

Heath first entered the Commons in 1951 and remained an MP right up until 2001. He became Father of the House in 1992, making him one of the longest-serving men to have held the position in modern times.

Edward Heath Photo NA899

A full list of Fathers of the House in Britain can be viewed here.