Lord Salisbury was elected Member of Parliament for South Dorset in 1979. He was a Member of Parliament until 1987, when he did not stand for re-election. During those 8 years he was particularly interested in foreign affairs, constitutional affairs and Northern Ireland.
He was summoned to the Upper House by a Writ of Acceleration in 1992 and became a Life Peer in November 1999. From 1992 to 1994 he was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence; from 1994 to 1997 he was Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords; and from 1997 to 1998 he was Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords. He took leave of absence in 2002 and retired from the House of Lords in 2002.
The Marquess of Salisbury still has a considerable interest in politics. Among other activities in this field, he is a member of the Advisory Board of Open Europe and of Prosperity UK. He is also Chairman of Reaction, a website providing comment and analysis on politics, economics and culture.