UK Treasury and World Bank official;
Born: November 10, 1928 ; Died: July 6 .2012.
Sir William Ryrie, who has died aged 83, was an influential figure in the UK Treasury for 20 years, a civil servant who worked with five prime ministers. Known to all as Bill, he famously drew up the so-called Ryrie Rules on private investment in the public sector during Margaret Thatcher's government, rules which eventually gave way to the Private Finance Initiative (PFI).
He later became globally respected as a senior official in the World Bank. From 1984-93, he was executive vice-president and CEO of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the development stable-mate of the World Bank. Directly responsible to the World Bank president, initially the American Tom Clausen who hired him, his job was to advise on private sector investment in developing nations.
Born in India to Scottish parents and educated at George Heriot's school and Edinburgh University, he found himself doing for the IFC in Washington DC what he had done at the Treasury in Whitehall, promoting economic development through private investment, this time dealing with more than 150 "shareholder" nations rather than just the UK.
After retiring from the IFC and by then knighted (in 1982), Sir William became a familiar figure in the City of London, sitting on many boards, including Ashanti Goldfields and engineering and architecture consultants WS Atkins. From 1994-2002, he served as vice-chairman of ING Barings Holding Company and chairman of Baring Emerging Europe Trust.
William Sinclair Ryrie was born in Calcutta, the son of Scottish missionary the Rev Dr Frank Ryrie and his wife Mabel, also Scottish, whom he had met while she was teaching in India. Young William attended the Methodist-founded Mount Hermon school in Darjeeling, at the time considered the best school in India, where he remained, partly due to the ongoing war in Europe, until his mid-teens. Returning to Scotland, he went to George Heriot's school before studying history at Edinburgh, graduating in 1951 with a first class honours.
From 1951-53, he did his National Service the hard way, serving as a lieutenant in British army's Intelligence Corps during the Malayan Emergency – the communist insurgency. On his return to the UK in 1953, he married Dorrit Klein and they went on to have three children. The year the marriage was dissolved, 1969, he married Christine Thomson, with whom he later had a son.
In 1953, still only 24, he joined the Colonial Office, which seconded him to Uganda from 1956-58 including a year as a district officer in the north of the country, where he faced anti-colonial hostility from pro-independence groups. He joined the Treasury in 1963, where he would serve for the next 20 years, including more than two years (1969-71) as Principal Private Secretary to three consecutive Chancellors of the Exchequer – Roy Jenkins, Iain Macleod and Anthony Barber. In his early Treasury years, he was an aide to fellow Scot (later Sir) Alec Cairncross. He recalled "tagging along with Cairncross, as bag carrier and note-taker, to meetings of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris". In 1966, Ryrie was tasked with drawing up a contingency plan for a devaluation, which eventually occurred the following year.
It was as Second Permanent Secretary for Domestic Economy at the Treasury that he drew up the famous Ryrie Rules in 1982. These rules, increasingly controversial, were gradually relaxed during the 1980s before being finally retired in 1992 and eventually replaced by the Private Investment Initiative. During his Treasury years, he also had spells in Washington as Economic Minister at the British embassy and as British representative at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as well as Permanent Secretary at the Overseas Development Administration (ODA) of the Foreign Office. Hired by World Bank President Clausen, he was appointed CEO and executive vice-president of the IFC in 1984.
After Whitehall and its "Yes, Minister" mentality, Sir William's new job was a breath of fresh air. "Bill loved the job. He was a man of action and had always found the senior slots in the civil service frustrating," according to his widow Lady Christine. "He had been giving thought-out advice that wasn't always listened to, let alone followed, and not being able himself to implement anything significant. At IFC, it was very different. He was almost wholly in charge. He had a world-class international staff to advise and correct him – and they did. He travelled the developing world extensively from our home in Washington, becoming more and more convinced that helping the private sector in that world was correct." That philosophy was the theme of his well-received book First World, Third World, published in 1995 soon after his retirement.
On retirement, Sir William and Lady Christine settled in the village atmosphere of Chislehurst, Kent, , spending holidays in a Highland home they had built in Gairloch. In Chislehurst, his pride and joy was the garden of his home, Hawkwood. His other great hobbies were hillwalking, classical music, opera and photography.
Having suffered from Parkinson's diesease for many years, Sir William died at his Chislehurst home. He is survived by Lady Christine, his children from the two marriages, Paul, Andrew, Ellen and Alexander, eight grandchildren, his brother Sandy and his sister Mona.
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