Lord Young, former Conservative minister and businessman, dies aged 90 | David Young

Lord Young of Graffham, a cabinet minister under Margaret Thatcher and a successful businessman, has died aged 90.

A Conservative party spokesperson confirmed the death of the peer, who became secretary of state for employment in 1985 and was appointed secretary of state for trade and industry after the 1987 election.

Young, who never took a salary for his cabinet roles, served as right-hand man to Thatcher during the controversial state privatisations of the 1980s.

He would later serve as an enterprise adviser to David Cameron when he was prime minister, and retained a keen interest in education and youth employment.

Earlier this year, he called for exams to be replaced by continuous assessment.

Sometimes referred to as a favourite of Thatcher’s, David Ivor Young began his rise through politics as chair of the Manpower Services Commission and was appointed to the Lords in 1984.

Lord Young in 1988, as secretary of state for trade and industry.
Lord Young in 1988, as secretary of state for trade and industry. Photograph: PA

Thatcher once said: “Others bring me problems. David brings me solutions.”

The peer, who was initially a lawyer, led numerous businesses in the UK and overseas including Cable & Wireless.

Young, who was appointed Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour in the 2015 new year honours list, retired from the Lords earlier this year.

Lance Forman, a former Tory London MEP, wrote on Twitter: “Sad to hear of the death of Lord Young today.

“He was at the heart of Thatcher’s Govt – promoting an Enterprise culture – so much needed today.

Then prime minister David Cameron and Lord Young in 10 Downing Street in 2010.
Then prime minister David Cameron and Lord Young in 10 Downing Street in 2010. Photograph: Tim Ireland/PA

“He started political life as Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for Trade & Industry. I was proud to follow in those footsteps.”

In November 2010, Young was widely criticised for suggesting most Britons had “never had it so good” during the “so-called recession”.

The peer was forced to withdraw his remarks after a firm rebuke from Downing Street. He subsequently wrote to Cameron to apologise and to express his “profound regrets”, and resigned from his role as an adviser.