A Scot of Vision – John Cowperthwaite


John Cowperthwaite

Bronze Bust of John Cowperthwaite


Sir John Cowperthwaite was a civil servant whose laissez-faire approach to business created Hong Kong’s dynamic economy from the 1960s onwards. Had he lived, he would have surely endorsed the policies of UKIP. Should Britain follow his policies then the UK could once again see an economic revival, where manufacturing could once again provide the people with increased prosperity for all.

Between 1841, when Lord Palmerston thundered that this “barren rock” would “never become a mart of trade” and its return to China in 1997, Hong Kong grew at its most frenetic pace under Cowperthwaite, resulting in a per-capita income more than a third greater than that enjoyed by Britain.

John James Cowperthwaite was educated at Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh, then took a first in classics at St Andrews University. He followed this with a double-first in classics at Christ’s College, Cambridge, before returning to St Andrews to study economics. He was greatly influenced by the economist Professor Wilkie Nisbet, a staunch free-trader.

Cowperthwaite did away with all import and export duties, put a flat tax on profits and set the ceiling on income tax at 15 per cent. The personal allowance for each citizen was high enough to enable many to pay no tax at all. He swept away many of the curious idiosyncrasies of colonial administration.

(excerpts from the Times Obituary Column © Times Newspapers Ltd)


Sir John Cowperthwaite, KBE, CMG, Financial Secretary of Hong Kong, 1961-71, was born in Edinburgh on April 25, 1915. He died at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee on January 21, 2006, aged 90. Let us follow his financial acumen in the Britain of today.


Full Obituary at The Times

The Hong Kong Experiment – by Milton Friedman

Hong Kong’s Nightwatchman – By Tim Worstall

Lion Rock Institute of Hong Kong Blog

UKIP Scotland

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A Scot of Vision – John Cowperthwaite

  1. Dr. Duncan Pickard says:

    I have been an advocate of the “positive non-intervention” policy of Sir John since I read his obituary in 2006. His economic policy was based on the classical theory of Adam Smith, which stated that land, capital and labour were separate and distinct factors in the creation of wealth. Henry George took Adam Smith`s work forward and clarified the reasons why a country`s economic policy which was founded on Adam Smith would inevitably lead to economic prosperity and social justice. I fully support UKIP promising to follow the Cowperthwaite approach to government. I believe that most economists today profess to be “neo-classical economists” and have been taught and accept that land is capital. This makes it impossible for them to do the correct economic analysis which would show the true cause of the boom to bust which we are currently suffering, that is to say, the very favourable treatment of land-based property ownership for taxation purposes compared with employment and enterprise, which encourages property speculation and discourages productive industry. On Jan 11 2012 I am scheduled to give a talk to Cupar U3A on the role of Sir John Cowperthwaite in guiding Hong Kong to economic prosperity

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s