1938: Born in Chelmsford, Essex.

1943-49: Kings Road infants and primary school. Played in goal and a few years later a young boy called Geoff Hurst played for the same team.

1949-56: King Edward VI grammar school. Colours in football, cricket and hockey. Deputy Head Boy.

1956-58: National Service – 2nd Lieutenant in Essex Regiment. Stationed in Dortmund. Other National Service officers included Christopher Tugendhat (later a European Commissioner) and Neil MacFarlane (later Minister of Sport).

1958-61: Trinity Hall, Cambridge.  Attends at the same time as so-called Cambridge ‘Mafia’ of future Tory politicians such as Leon Brittan, Ken Clarke, John Gummer, Michael Howard and many more.  Chairman of Conservative Association and hosted two-thousand strong meeting for serving Prime Minister Harold MacMillan. Watching from the press benches were Peter Cook and David Frost.

1961: Joined The Times as a trainee. William Haley was the editor and at the time there were advertisements on the front page and no bylines for journalists. “We were all special correspondents.”

1966: Home Affairs Correspondent at The Times specialising in the Home Office where he covered in turn Roy Jenkins (“The best Home Secretary since the War”) and Jim Callaghan.  Claims to be the first specialist correspondent on Fleet Street to cover the Home Office.

1967: Covered Middle-East War from Beirut, Syria and Jordan. Entered by a fishing boat from Famagusta, Cyprus with the team from Paris Match and was initially given a one-hour visa. Claims to be the only Home Affairs Correspondent covering the Middle-East War.

1968: Selected as Conservative Candidate for Nottingham South.

1970: Won the seat from Labour by almost 4,000 votes but then at the opening of Parliament heard Ted Heath say that the delayed boundary review was to be implemented with the result that his seat disappeared.

1972: Selected for Sutton Coldfield, 40 miles to the west in the West Midlands and returned there in both elections of 1974. He remained Member of Parliament for Sutton Coldfield for 27 years, until 2001.  

1979-81: Minister of Transport (later Secretary of State) at Department of Transport

1981-87: Secretary of State at Department of Health & Social Security

1987-90: Secretary of State at Department of Employment

1990: Resignation from the cabinet

1992-94: Chairman of the Conservative Party

1997-98: Shadow Environment, Transport & the Regions Secretary

1998-99: Shadow Home Secretary

2001: Retired from the House of Commons. Appointed Baron Fowler, of Sutton Coldfield in the County of West Midlands.

2005: Chairman of the House of Lords select committee on the renewal of the BBC’s Royal Charter; 2006 first chairman of the Lords’ select committee on Communications; 2011 chairman of the House of Lords Select Committee on HIV/AIDS.

2016: Elected Lord Speaker of the House of Lords. 

Chairing virtual sessions during the ‘lockdown’

Business and Voluntary Sector

Norman has been deeply involved in industry, having been on the board of directors of several companies.  He was non-executive chairman of the Midland Independent Newspapers (publishers of the Birmingham Post) 1991-98 and then of the Yorkshire Post group; non-executive chairman of Aggregate Industries plc (now part of Holcim Ltd) 2000-06; chairman of the National House Building Council 1992-98; and Numark 1998-2006. He was a non-executive director of NFC plc 1990-97; Holcim 2006-10; and of ABTA, the travel business.

Among his voluntary roles, he was a director of the International Aids Vaccine Initiative in New York and has continuing links with the Terrence Higgins Trust and the National Aids Trust. He is President of the British HIV Association which represents clinicians.

He is a member of the National Union of Journalists.


In May 1979 Norman Fowler married Fiona Poole, who worked as a Library Clerk in the House of Commons Research Department.  They have two daughters, Kate and Isobel, who were born amidst the red boxes.  He also has a stepson, Oliver, and four grandchildren, Iris, Lola, Esmé and Thomas.  He lives in London and the Isle of Wight.