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Chris Patten

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Deputy  Diane Coyle
Name  Chris Patten
Preceded by  The Viscount Ridley

Preceded by  Michael Lyons
Spouse  Lavender Patten (m. 1971)
Chris Patten wwwnndbcompeople279000033180chrispattenjpg

Deputy  Colin LucasJohn HoodAndrew Hamilton
Preceded by  The Lord Jenkins of Hillhead
Role  Former Governor of Hong Kong
Education  Balliol College, St Benedict's School, Ealing, University of Oxford
Children  Alice Patten, Laura Patten, Kate Patten
Political party  Conservative Party, Crossbencher
Books  East and West, What Next?: Surviving, Not Quite the Diplomat, Cousins and Strangers, Respect for the Earth: Sustaina
Similar People  Alice Patten, Regina Ip, Roy Jenkins, Harold Macmillan, Edward Smith‑Stanley - 14th Earl

Succeeded by  Diane Coyle (Acting)

Last Governor of Hong Kong Chris patten on 20th Anniversary - Full interview

Christopher Francis Patten, Baron Patten of Barnes CH PC (born 12 May 1944) is a British politician who served as the 28th and last Governor of Hong Kong from 1992 to 1997. He has been a crossbench member of the British House of Lords since 2005 and a former British Conservative politician until 2011, as Member of Parliament (MP) for Bath from 1979 to 1992.


Chris Patten Chris Patten Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Patten first became a junior British Government minister in 1986, and a member of the Cabinet from 1989 to 1992. He was Chairman of the Conservative Party from 1990 to 1992, and European Commissioner from 1999 to 2004. He was Chairman of the BBC Trust from 2011 to 2014. Currently, he is the Chancellor of the University of Oxford, a post he has held since 2003.

Chris Patten Next BBC chairman Chris Patten is grilled by MPs Media

Patten served various junior ministerial posts under Margaret Thatcher, including at the Department of Education and Science, before joining the Cabinet in 1989 as Environment Secretary. On the succession of John Major as Prime Minister in 1990, Patten was promoted to become Chairman of the Conservative Party and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He orchestrated the Conservatives' unexpected fourth consecutive electoral victory in 1992, but unexpectedly, he lost his own seat in the House of Commons, in Bath.

Chris Patten Chris Patten

He then accepted the final (28th) Governorship of Hong Kong until the territory's handover to China on 1 July 1997. As Governor and Commander-in-Chief, Patten presided over a steady rise in the living standards of Hong Kongers while encouraging a significant expansion of Hong Kong's social welfare and electoral system. Patten played a significant role in the Hong Kong handover ceremony with Charles, Prince of Wales and exited Victoria Harbour on HMY Britannia. Patten received national recognition for his services by appointment as Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) in the 1998 New Year Honours.

Chris Patten Lord Chris Patten Voices From Oxford

From 1999 to 2004 he served as one of the United Kingdom's two members of the European Commission. He returned to the UK and became Chancellor of the University of Oxford in 2003 and was made a life peer in 2005. On 7 April 2011 Queen Elizabeth II approved Patten's appointment as the Chairman of the BBC Trust, the governing body of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Patten held the position until his resignation on grounds of ill-health on 6 May 2014.

The last hong kong governor chris patten on 20 years after the handover

Early life

"Patten grew up in an Irish Catholic family in west London, the son of a charming but mostly unsuccessful music publisher whose forebearers had come to England from Co Roscommon." [5] Patten's father, Frank, a jazz-drummer turned popular-music publisher and his mother Joan sent him to a Catholic primary school, Our Lady of the Visitation, in Greenford, and later to the independent St Benedict's School in Ealing, west London, where he won an Exhibition to read Modern History at Balliol College, Oxford.

After graduating with the top First in 1965, Patten worked for the campaign of then-Republican New York Mayor John Lindsay, where he reported on the television performance of rival William F. Buckley, Jr. He worked for the Conservative Party from 1966, first as desk officer and then director (from 1974 to 1979) of the Conservative Research Department.

Member of Parliament

Patten stood unsuccessfully at Lambeth Central in February 1974, being beaten by Labour's Marcus Lipton. He was elected Member of Parliament for Bath from 1979 to 1992.

In government

Patten was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Northern Ireland Office in June 1983. He was promoted to be a Minister of State in the Department of Education and Science in September 1985, and was named Minister for Overseas Development at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in September 1986.

In 1989 he was promoted to the Cabinet as Secretary of State for the Environment and became responsible for the unpopular Community Charge (or so-called "Poll Tax"). Though he robustly defended the policy at the time, in his 2006 book Not Quite the Diplomat (published in the United States as Cousins and Strangers: America, Britain and Europe in the New Century) he claims to have thought it was a mistake on Margaret Thatcher's part. He also introduced, and steered through Parliament, the major legislation that became the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

In 1990, John Major made Patten Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Chairman of the Conservative Party, with responsibility for organising the coming general election campaign. As party chairman, he was widely considered to be the main architect of the somewhat unexpected Conservative victory in the 1992 election. However, he lost his marginal seat of Bath to the Liberal Democrat candidate Don Foster in 1992. Patten's defeat was attributed to several factors including the Poll Tax, and his other commitments which prevented him from campaigning in his constituency.

Governor of Hong Kong

If Patten had been re-elected in 1992, sections of the media thought he would have been rewarded by appointment as Foreign Secretary, although in his autobiography John Major said that he would have made Patten Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Patten turned down offers of a new seat and instead, in July 1992, he became the 28th and the last Governor of Hong Kong until its transfer of sovereignty to the People's Republic of China on 30 June 1997. He was given an official Chinese name, Pang Ding-hong (Chinese: 彭定康), a name with an etymology based on the words "stability" and "health". Unlike most previous Hong Kong Governors, he was not a career diplomat from the UK Foreign Office although he was not the first former MP to become a Governor of Hong Kong.

Patten's tenure faced several different challenges, as many in Hong Kong were still reeling from the Tiananmen Square Massacre a few years earlier. However the general opinion regarded him positively. He took steps to get in touch with the people of the colony, and was known for his penchant for taking public strolls around Hong Kong as well as in the media limelight. Hong Kong affectionately nicknamed him Fatty Pang (Chinese: 肥彭), making him the only governor to have a widely recognised Chinese nickname. Patten was also the only British Governor of the colony not to wear the official Windsor uniform (also known as the Court uniform).

Patten's most controversial actions in Hong Kong are related to the 1994 Hong Kong electoral reform. Legco members returned in 1995 were originally to serve beyond the handover, thereby providing institutional continuity across the transition of Hong Kong to the PRC. Beijing had expected that the use of functional constituencies with limited electorates would be used to elect this council, however Patten extended the definition of functional constituencies and thus virtually every Hong Kong subject was able to vote for the so-called indirectly elected members (see Politics of Hong Kong) of the Legislative Council.

His measure was strongly criticised by the pro-Beijing political parties of Hong Kong, which would suffer from the electoral changes. Patten was also denounced by some Chinese media as the 'whore of the East,' a 'serpent' and a 'wrongdoer who would be condemned for a thousand generations' (Chinese: 千古罪人). The legislative council which was elected under Patten's governorship was dissolved upon the handover of Hong Kong to the PRC and replaced by a Provisional Legislative Council (Chinese: 臨時立法會) which did not have any democratic functions until elections were held under the previous rules in 1998.

At 00:00 HKT 1 July 1997 (16:00 GMT, 30 June 1997), he sent the following telegram:

I have relinquished the administration of this government. God Save The Queen. Patten.

This marked the end of British rule in Hong Kong, and arguably of the British Empire, though other remnants persist, such as Bermuda. After the handover ceremony he left the city, together with Prince Charles, on board the British royal yacht, HMY Britannia. Patten was noted to be in tears throughout the day, notably after his speech at Tamar.

After Hong Kong

From 1998 to 1999, he chaired the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland, better known as the Patten Commission, which had been established in 1998 as part of the Belfast Agreement. On 9 September 1999, the Commission produced its report, entitled A New Beginning: Policing in Northern Ireland and popularly known as the Patten Report, which contained 175 symbolic and practical recommendations. This report led to the renaming of the Royal Ulster Constabulary as the Police Service of Northern Ireland. He is the co-chair of International Crisis Group, overseeing many international operations. He is also a member of the Global Leadership Foundation, an organisation which works to promote good governance around the world. On 23 May 2005 he was appointed by Cadbury as a non-executive director.

European Commissioner

In 1999, he was appointed as one of the United Kingdom's two members to the European Commission as Commissioner for External Relations where he was responsible for the Union's development and co-operation programmes, as well as liaison with Javier Solana, the High Representative of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. He held this position within the Prodi Commission from 23 January 2000 until 22 November 2004. Patten oversaw many crises in the area of European foreign policy, most notably the failure of the European Union to come up with a common unified policy before the Iraq war in 2003. Although nominated for the post of President in the next Commission in 2004, he was unable to gain support from France and Germany.

According to information from WikiLeaks Patten was in Moscow in April 2004, and had concluded EU-Russia ministerial consultations in Brussels. He considered that the EU had become overly dependent on Russian energy supplies, and should become more engaged with the countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia in order to diversify supplies.

According to information from the US Embassy in Brussels (published by Wikileaks in November 2010): Patten said in April 2004 that Russian President Vladimir Putin has done a good job for Russia mainly due to high world energy prices, but he had serious doubts about the man’s character. Cautioning that “I’m not saying that genes are determinant,” Patten then reviewed the Putin family history – grandfather part of Lenin’s special protection team; father a communist party apparatchik, and Putin himself decided at a young age to pursue a career in the KGB. “He seems a completely reasonable man when discussing the Middle East or energy policy, but when the conversation shifts to Chechnya or Islamic extremism, Putin’s eyes turn to those of a killer.”

University roles and elevation to the peerage

Patten was Chancellor of Newcastle University from 1999 to 2009, and was elected Chancellor of the University of Oxford in 2003. In 2016, in the wake of a student movement to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes from a College in Oxford, as had happened in South Africa, Patten said that Oxford students who didn't like Cecil Rhodes should "think about being educated elsewhere".

On 11 January 2005 Patten was created a life peer as Baron Patten of Barnes, of Barnes in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.

Chairman of the BBC Trust

On the advice of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government led by Prime Minister David Cameron, Patten was appointed by the Queen-in-Council as Chairman of the BBC Trust, and he took office on 1 May 2011, in the place of Sir Michael Lyons whose contract was not renewed.

BBC royal river pageant outside broadcast

As Chairman of the BBC Trust, Patten joined the Prince of Wales and other members of the royal family in the royal box for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert. It came, however, immediately in the wake of widespread criticism of the BBC's live outside-broadcast coverage of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee River Pageant on 3 June 2012, which was castigated in the press and was the subject of 1,830 formal complaints by viewers. Patten said afterwards the Royal Pageant had not been the BBC's "finest hour" and admitted that "The tone was wrong."

Jimmy Savile scandal

In October 2012 ITV broadcast a documentary revealing that the late Sir Jimmy Savile, a prominent BBC performer and children's television presenter for more than thirty years, had been a serial child-abuser and rapist. Police subsequently received more than 400 complaints from alleged former victims. After an initially faltering response, the BBC announced the setting up of two independently-led inquiries, one to examine why the BBC's "Newsnight" programme had dropped its own investigation into Savile in 2011, and a second inquiry into the BBC’s "culture and practices" in the years that Savile worked there and whether BBC child-protection and whistleblowing policies were good enough.

On 28 October an article by Patten, as Chairman of the BBC Trust, appeared in the Mail on Sunday newspaper in which he reiterated a public apology over the Savile affair. Patten said "Today, like many who work for the BBC, I feel a sense of particular remorse that abused women spoke to "Newsnight", presumably at great personal pain, yet did not have their stories told as they expected. On behalf of the BBC, I apologise unreservedly". He went on to say "The BBC risks squandering public trust because one of its stars over three decades was apparently a sexual criminal; because he used his programme and popularity as a cover for his wickedness; because he used BBC premises for some of his attacks; and because others – BBC employees and hangers-on – may also have been involved." Patten posed the question "Can it really be the case that no one knew what he was doing?" Patten said Savile had been "received into the heart of the Establishment; feted from Chequers to the Vatican; friend to Royals and editors. How did we let it happen? And could someone like this con us all again?" Patten declared "The BBC must tell the truth and face up to the truth about itself, however terrible".


Patten submitted his letter of resignation as BBC Trust Chairman to the Secretary of State on 6 May 2014; citing health reasons following his heart bypass surgery on 28 April. BBC Trust Vice Chairman Diane Coyle took over as Acting Chairman until the appointment of a new chairman.

In May 2016, Patten said that the BBC has “lost some of its ambition” in its coverage of science, philosophy and history, and should “stretch” audiences more. Patten, bemoaned the fact that much of the corporation’s high-brow programming had been moved to BBC Four, the digital channel, and given low budgets that meant shows were “sometimes made with glue and string”. In a speech on the future of the BBC, which he said was “one of this country’s greatest institutions”, Patten called on ministers to respect the “besieged” broadcaster’s independence, and set in place measures to stop it becoming “the plaything of the government of the day".


In February 2010, Patten was appointed President of Medical Aid for Palestinians, but he stepped down in June 2011.

Personal life

Patten married Lavender Thornton, a barrister, in 1971. They have three daughters, Kate, Laura (married to Elton Charles), and Alice Patten (actress, married to Tim Steed). They also have two Norfolk terriers, Whisky and Soda.

On 29 September 2005, he published his memoirs, Not Quite the Diplomat: Home Truths About World Affairs. In October 2009, Patten was Chief Guest at The Doon School, a boarding school in Dehradun, India, which is a member of the United Kingdom's Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference.

Patten is a Roman Catholic and oversaw Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United Kingdom in September 2010. In 2010, The Tablet named him as one of Britain’s most influential Roman Catholics.

In 2014 Pope Francis appointed Patten to head a body to advise the Vatican on media strategy and on how to handle the press.

In the media

Patten was interviewed about the rise of Thatcherism for the 2006 BBC TV documentary series Tory! Tory! Tory!

Patten and his time in Hong Kong was the subject of the 5-part documentary series "The Last Governor", which was filmed throughout his time in Hong Kong, including his arrival, key moments of his government such as the 1995 elections and his final day in office, ending as he departs Government House for the last time.

The 1996 Hong Kong parody film Bodyguards of Last Governor, presents 'Christ Pattern' as the Governor of Hong Kong. In addition to the name, Pattern appears to be based heavily on Patten, matching his appearance, political affiliation (Conservative) and family (a wife and two daughters with him in Hong Kong). His role however is minor as the film depicts him being replaced with one month to go before the Handover. He is portrayed by Noel Lester Rands.


In the 1998 New Year Honours, Queen Elizabeth II appointed him a Companion of Honour (CH).

In 2003 he was awarded an honorary LL.D. degree from the University of Bath. In September 2005 he was elected a Distinguished Honorary Fellow of Massey College in the University of Toronto (the only person so elected except for the Chancellor of the University of Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh, the Duke of Edinburgh) as well as receiving an honorary D.S.Litt. degree from the University of Trinity College, Toronto and an honorary D.Litt. degree from the University of Ulster. In March 2009, Patten received the title Doctor honoris causa by South East European University.

In November 2016 Patten was made a Commander of the Legion of Honour, and was presented with the award by the French Ambassador to the United Kingdom Sylvie Bermann at Kensington Palace Gardens.


  • Chris Patten (1983). The Tory Case. Longman Higher Education. ISBN 0-582-29612-9. 
  • Chris Patten (1997). Letters to Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Information Services Department.
  • Chris Patten (1998). East and West: The Last Governor of Hong Kong on Power Freedom and the Future. McClelland & Stewart. ISBN 978-0-7710-6974-1. 
  • Chris Patten (2005). Not Quite the Diplomat: Home Truths About World Affairs. Allen Lane. ISBN 0-7139-9855-5. 
  • Chris Patten (2006). Cousins and Strangers: America, Britain, and Europe in a New Century. Times Books. ISBN 0-8050-7788-X. 
  • Chris Patten (2008). What Next? Surviving the Twenty-First Century. Allen Lane. ISBN 978-0-7139-9856-6. 
  • Reviewed by Jonathan Sumption in The Spectator
  • Chris Patten (2017). First Confession: A Sort of Memoir. Allen Lane. ISBN 978-0-2412-7559-7. 
  • References

    Chris Patten Wikipedia