Robert Smith, Baron Smith of Kelvin

The Lord Smith of Kelvin
Personal details
Born Robert Haldane Smith
(1944-08-08) 8 August 1944
Glasgow, Scotland
Spouse(s) Alison Bell, m. 1969
(now The Lady Smith of Kelvin)[1]
Children 2
Occupation Businessman and parliamentarian
The Star of the Thistle

Robert Haldane Smith, Baron Smith of Kelvin, KT CH (born 8 August 1944 at Glasgow) is a British businessman and former Governor of the British Broadcasting Corporation.[2] Smith was knighted in 1999, appointed to the House of Lords as an independent crossbench peer in 2008, and appointed Knight of the Thistle in the 2014 New Year Honours.[3] He was also appointed to the Order of the Companions of Honour in 2016.

Lord Smith of Kelvin serves as Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde[4] and Chair of the British Government-backed Green Investment Bank. He is Chairman of IMI plc, Alliance Trust PLC and Forth Ports Limited.

On 19 September 2014, he was appointed as Chair of the newly-formed Scotland Devolution Commission by Prime Minister David Cameron, following the "No" result in the Scottish independence referendum; his role being to oversee devolution commitments spelt out by the Westminster parliamentary leaders, with initial proposals drawn up by November 2014.[5]

Early life

Smith grew up in the Maryhill district of Glasgow and was educated at Allan Glen's School, Glasgow.[6]

After leaving school in 1963, Smith failed his first-year English exams at the University of Glasgow.[7] He turned to a career in accountancy and was articled to Robb Ferguson & Company and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1968.[8]

Professional career

Smith moved to ICFC, later known as 3i, until 1982 and joined the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1983. From 1985 to 1989 he was managing director of Charterhouse Development Capital Ltd. He also held the posts of chairman and CEO with Morgan Grenfell Private Equity, CEO of Morgan Grenfell Asset Management and was Vice Chairman of its successor, Deutsche Asset Management, between 2000 and 2002. He has held various positions as Director of MFI Furniture Group plc, Stakis plc (where he was also chairman from 1998 to 1999), the Bank of Scotland, Tip Europe plc and Network Rail.[9] From 1 July 2002 to 31 December 2013 Smith was Chairman of The Weir Group.[10]

Smith was a member of the Financial Services Authority from 1997 to 2000 and is a member of the Financial Reporting Council. As Chairman of the FRC Group on Audit Committees Combined Code Guidance he was responsible for The Smith Report (2003).[11]

Business commitments

Smith was Chairman of Scottish and Southern Energy, The Weir Group plc and a non-Executive Director of Standard Bank Group Limited. He was also Patron of Foundation Scotland until 2015.[12]

On 8 February 2008, Smith was appointed as Chair of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games organising company.[13] He was announced as the first Chair of the British Green Investment Bank in May 2012.[14]

On 19 September 2014, Smith was appointed as Chair of the newly formed Scotland Devolution Commission, following the "No vote" in the Scottish independence referendum.

He is a Past President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and was chairman of the board of Trustees of the National Museums of Scotland from 1993 until 2002 and was a member (1988–1998) and vice-chairman (1996–1998) of the Museums and Galleries Commission.

Smith was a President of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland and also Regent of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and was Chairman of the Smith Group (advising Scottish Government on educational issues, especially 16- to 19-year-olds not in education, employment or training).[2]

Personal life

Smith married Alison Marjorie Bell in 1969; initially Mrs Alison Smith, she formally became Lady Smith when her husband received a knighthood in 1999. They have two daughters.

Lord and Lady Smith own the island of Inchmarnock, situated off the west coast of the Isle of Bute in the Firth of Clyde, where he breeds Highland cattle and he also owns a vineyard and guest house in South Africa.[2]


Smith has been conferred honorary degrees by the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and also Paisley, where he was installed as Chancellor in 2003 serving for 10 years. Smith's time at the University of Paisley oversaw the merger with Bell College in Hamilton, intended to create the biggest new university in Scotland. The University of Paisley changed its name to the University of the West of Scotland in November 2007.

In 2010, the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors awarded Smith an Honorary Fellowship at the Annual Scottish Conference in recognition of his long term support of the internal audit profession.

Smith was the 2015 winner of the Royal Society of Edinburgh/Adam Smith Medal, for his business leadership and his outstanding contribution to public service through his Chairmanship of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014[15] and was then elected as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in March 2016[16]

National honours

Lord Smith of Kelvin sits as a crossbench Life Peer in the House of Lords.[2]

He was appointed Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) in the 2016 Birthday Honours for public service, particularly in Scotland.[21]

Styles of address


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