He stood unsuccessfully as the Conservative candidate for Pontypridd in the general election of 1959 and in the Ebbw Vale by-election of 1960 held on the death of Aneurin Bevan when he was predictably defeated by Michael Foot (Labour). He again contested the same division in the general election of October 1964. He then represented Kensington South, March 1968 (by-election)-February 1974, and Kensington and Chelsea from February 1974 until his premature death in 1988 aged sixty. Kensington South was one of the safest Conservative seats in the whole country, Kensington rather less so. In the 1968 by-election, he had been chosen from a short-list which included Christopher Soames and Geoffrey Howe, while in 1974 his rivals had included Tory hopefuls like Leon Brittan and Rhodes Boyson. He was a Member of the European Parliament from 1979 until 1984, representing the London South-East Euro-division. He was a member of the British Delegation to the Council of Europe, 1970-72, and to the European Parliament from 1973 where he became vice-chairman of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee. His majority in the 1987 general election was 4,447 in a six-cornered contest. He was regarded as one of the most independent and charming of MPs, and the foremost effective parliamentary champion of women, children and the poor. He was considered to be one of the old school of paternalistic Tories, ready at times to speak out against the party leadership. This ensured that he never won a place in the government. He wrote regularly to ‘the Letters’ columns of The Times. He had many interests in south Wales, including the presidency of the Welsh Guards Association in East Glamorgan.
He married in 1961 Caroline Susan, the eldest daughter of L. A. Foster of Greatham Manor, Pulborough, Sussex, and they had one son and two daughters. They lived at 32 Rawlings Street, London SW3, and at Gadairwen, Groes Faen near Pontyclun, Glamorgan. He died on 18 May 1988, after a long battle against leukaemia. He was buried at St David's Church, Groesfaen. His death led to the first by-election of the 1987-92 parliament. His successor in the baronetcy was his son, Arthur Gareth Ludovic Emrys Rhys-Williams (born 9 November 1961).
Dr John Graham Jones, Aberystwyth
Published date: 2008