The Baroness Ward of North Tyneside
|Member of Parliament|
23 February 1950 – 28 February 1974
|Preceded by||Grace Colman|
|Succeeded by||Neville Trotter|
|Member of Parliament|
27 October 1931 – 4 July 1945
|Preceded by||Margaret Bondfield|
|Succeeded by||John McKay|
|Born||23 February 1895|
|Died||26 April 1980(aged 85)|
Ward was educated privately and at Newcastle Church High School. She contested Morpeth in 1924 and 1929 without success and was elected to the House of Commons in 1931 for Wallsend, defeating Labour's Margaret Bondfield. A strong advocate for Tyneside industry and social conditions, she lost her seat in the 1945 general election, which Labour won by a landslide.
In 1950, Ward returned to Parliament for Tynemouth, again defeating a female incumbent, Grace Colman. An active backbencher, she introduced the bill that became the Rights of Entry (Gas and Electricity Boards) Act, 1954. She promoted a Bill to pay pocket money to the elderly living in institutions, the Nurses (Amendment) Act, 1961, and the Penalties for Drunkenness Act, 1962. She served on the Public Accounts Committee from 1964.
She is remembered in some quarters for an incident which caused amusement on both sides of the House when she threatened to "poke" the then Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Having received an evasive answer to a parliamentary question, she responded with the words: "I will poke the Prime Minister. I will poke him until I get a response."
Ward retired from the Commons in February 1974, having served a total of almost 38 years. She was the longest-serving female MP (although she would not have been Mother of the House because there was always a longer continuously-serving sitting MP as a result of the gap in her tenure) until that record was broken by Gwyneth Dunwoody in 2007. Aged 79 at her retirement, Ward was at that time also the oldest-ever serving female Member of Parliament and the oldest-ever woman to be re-elected, records not broken until Ann Clwyd achieved both in 2017.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Irene Ward
- Catalogue of the papers of Irene Ward, Baroness Ward of North Tyneside, 1860-1980
- The Peerage website
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
| Member of Parliament for Wallsend
| Member of Parliament for Tynemouth
| Oldest sitting member
1973 – 1974