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Beatrice Serota, Baroness Serota, DBE (née Katz; 15 October 1919 – 21 October 2002) was a British Government minister and a Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords.

Life and career

Beatrice Katz was brought up in the East End of London, the daughter of Jewish refugees from central Europe. She was nicknamed "Bea" or "Bee" from an early age. Her future husband, Stanley Serota, whose family had come from Russia, lived next door; they were married in 1942. He qualified as a civil engineer. She was educated at John Howard School and at the LSE, where she read economics and where she later became an honorary fellow.[1]

She joined the Civil Service in 1941 and worked in the crucial Ministry of Fuel and Power through the difficult years of the Second World War until 1946, when her son, Nicholas Serota, who later became the director of the Tate Gallery, was born. Two years later, a daughter, Judith, was born, who later pursued a career in the arts.

Harold Wilson appointed her as a Government Whip almost immediately and then proposed her for the sensitive post of deputy to Richard Crossman, having refused to promote Roy Hattersley, whom he suspected of disloyalty. She had never been an MP herself, but became a thoroughly competent administrator. She had been a member of the old Hampstead Borough Council immediately after the Second World War and subsequently served successively on the London County Council, as the member for Brixton, and the Greater London Council, as the member for Lambeth. Until the end of her life she was devoted to Hampstead.[2]

She became a Chief Whip when she was on the GLC, a post that would stand her in good stead later. She was vice-chairwoman of the Inner London Education Authority, holding this post for three years until 1967. It was her distinguished career in local government and the work that she did for children which brought her the recognition of a seat in the House of Lords as a recognised authority on the subject. She had also chaired the LCC children's committee for seven years.[2]

She was chair of the advisory council on the penal system, and the first ombudsman for local government. She was a member of the Community Relations Commission and the BBC Complaints Commission and a BBC Governor. She served on the Longford Committee on Crime and on the Latey Committee, which led to the lowering of the age of majority to 18. In the House of Lords, she became a Deputy Speaker in 1985, and then the principal deputy chairwoman of committees.



On 20 January 1967, she was created a life peer as Baroness Serota, of Hampstead in Greater London.[3]

In 1992 Baroness Serota was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE).[4]


  1. ^ Profile,; accessed 26 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b Obituary,; accessed 26 April 2015.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 44233. p. 825. 24 January 1967.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 52943. p. 2. 6 June 1992.