Joel Barnett

[Lord Barnett]

Biography of Joel Barnett

Joel Barnett, Baron Barnett (born 14 October 1923), is a Labour Party member of the House of Lords. Barnett was educated at Manchester Central High School. He worked as an accountant. He was elected a councillor on Prestwich Borough Council 1956-1959 and was treasurer of Manchester Fabian Society.

Barnett stood in Runcorn in 1959 without success. He was elected Member of Parliament for Heywood and Royton in 1964. He was a member of the Public Accounts Committee from January 1966.

Barnett served as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, from 1974 to 1979 gaining a seat in the cabinet from 1977 onwards and was Denis Healey's right hand man in the Callaghan Government. During this time he oversaw the devising of what is known as the Barnett Formula by which public spending is apportioned between England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. He has since joked about the strange and unexpected form of immortality that has been accorded to him by "having his own formula" and in 2010 argued that the Formula is now unfair to the devolved regions and should be abandoned or revised.

In 1982 he published a memoir Inside the Treasury (Andre Deutsch). Barnett held the Chairmanship of the Public Accounts Committee from 1979-83. In 1983, his Commons seat having been abolished by boundary changes, he was made a life peer as Baron Barnett, of Heywood and Royton in Greater Manchester.

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