David was born into a Liverpool shipping family in 1942. He was educated at Liverpool College, then graduated in Law from Bristol University, where he won the British Debating Championship with Bob Marshall-Andrews. He went on to represent British Universities on a debating tour of the United States of America and then organised the first transatlantic telephone debate, later participating in the first live Internet debate. He is now International Chairman of The English Speaking Union, having been a Governor for many years.
From 1995-2005, David was Senior Partner of Beachcroft LLP, the national firm of solicitors, specialising in insurance and financial services. He advises the Association of British Insurers and led the legal teams which established PASS (the Pension Advisers' Support System), the Pensions Protection Investments Accreditation Board (PPIAB) and its Raising Standards Quality Mark, and the Association of Independent Financial Advisers (AIFA). He served as the first chairman of AIFA from 1999 to 2002.
He is a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries and an honorary fellow of the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management. In 2004 he became the first independent chairman of the Professional Standards Board of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and from 2007-2008 he was President of the CII. He is a Trustee of the British Occupational Health Research Foundation and, in December 2004, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Insurance Times. A leading authority on rehabilitation, he co-founded - and served as the first chairman of - the Case Management Society UK (CMSUK). He is a fully accredited CEDR mediator.
David started as a trainee solicitor with one of the predecessor firms of Beachcroft . From 1965, he was articled to a former President of the Law Society, Sir Denys Hicks; and, after admission as a solicitor, was made a Partner in 1968. When David stepped down from John Major's Cabinet in 1995 to become Senior Partner, the firm had 150 fee earners; it has since grown to be one of the largest national law firms with over 850 fee earners and a total staff of over 1,400.
David is married with four children.
David first made a mark as Chairman of the British Youth Council and then as President of the Atlantic Association of Young Political Leaders. He was elected Member of Parliament for Wirral at a by-election in March 1976 (later Wirral West) and spent 21 years as an MP. In 1979, he became a member of Margaret Thatcher's first administration - serving as Parliamentary Private Secretary to John Nott, first at Trade and then at Defence.
After David had served a spell as a Whip, Margaret Thatcher appointed him as Coal Minister during the coal strike, then made him her Deputy Chief Whip after the 1987 General Election. After serving as Minister for Local Government and Inner Cities from 1989-90, he was appointed by Margaret Thatcher to her Cabinet as Secretary of State for Wales. Re-appointed in that position by John Major, he subsequently became Secretary of State for Employment in 1993 and then Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (and Minister for Public Service and Science) in 1994-95.
As a Member of the House of Lords, David often represents the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Insurance and Financial Services and is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences on insurance and reinsurance. He is President of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Health and Safety. As Chairman of the Inter-Parliamentary Council Against Racism and Anti-Semitism, he is also Trustee of the Holocaust Educational Trust and Vice Chairman of the War Crimes Group.
In recent times he has regularly served on the Conservative front bench on an ad hoc basis, speaking on behalf of the party on policy areas as diverse as the Lisbon Treaty, the Compensation Bill and the Religious Hatred Bill, where he played the leading role in successfully resisting Labour's concerted attempt to curtail legitimate freedom of expression on religious matters. On 7 October 2008, David Cameron asked him to go formally onto the front bench, to shadow Peter Mandelson in the House of Lords on Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform matters.
David was awarded the MBE in 1973 and appointed to the Privy Council in 1990. He was made a Life Peer as Lord Hunt of Wirral in 1997 and is still President or Patron of over fifty charities and voluntary organisations.