MP with great skill at serving constituency

NICHOLAS Lyell, former MP who represented Mid Bedfordshire and North East Bedfordshire, has died aged 71.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 3rd September 2010, 11:36 am

A long-standing Conservative MP, Lord Lyell won the Mid Beds seat with a strong 17,000 majority in 1983. He represented the area for 18 years, continuing as MP for North East Bedfordshire after boundary changes in 1997. He remained in the post until retiring from the House of Commons in 2001.

Lord Lyell passed away peacefully on Monday after living with cancer for the last 12 years.

Alistair Burt, MP for North East Bedfordshire and successor to Nicholas Lyell, said: “He stood for decent and fair minded Conservative principles and served both his constituency and country with great skill and distinction, putting his considerable legal powers at the service of Government.”

Lord Lyell was skilled in the legal profession and rose to the post of Attorney General in 1992, a position which he occupied until 1997. He continued to practise at the Bar while working as an MP, specialising in commercial and public law and working on several major cases.

During his spare time he enjoyed gardening, shooting, painting, hunting and riding. He was also a wine connoisseur.

Lord Lyell had represented the Hemel Hempstead constituency until boundary changes reduced its security.

Mr Burt continued: “It was a great honour to succeed Nick. I had known him since I entered Parliament in 1983 and he was invariably kind and encouraging to colleagues.

“It has been a privilege to follow him in North East Bedfordshire, where I am regularly reminded of him by his well wishers and all those he represented here and for whom he did so much.

“He was determined to continue this service to the country through the House of Lords, and did so, even when his illness must have made it so hard.

“Politics and the country have sadly lost a good man but we know his family has lost much more. My wife and I, and all in Bedfordshire, share the loss of Susanna and her family.”

As an MP Lord Lyell was keen for more people to get back into employment and for jobs to be created. He advocated plans to create work and training opportunities for school leavers and praised small firms in his constituency for their part in reducing unemployment.

His election campaign prioritised the building of the Shefford, Clifton and Henlow by-pass, which he officially opened in 1996. He spoke out against the discussed reintroduction of capital punishment at the beginning of his term as he believed that it did not act as a deterrent against murder.

Speaking during the Cold War, the MP said he was against one sided nuclear disarmament.

Shortly after his election Lord Lyell stated that he welcomed the green ideas which were becoming more important to the Conservative viewpoint.

Daphne Payne, Chairman of the North East Bedfordshire Conservative Association, said: “Lord Lyell was an excellent MP who achieved high office, that was always there for his constituents both individually and collectively. He was held in high regard.

“There will be many people who will be very sad on hearing of his death. Our thoughts and sympathies go to his wife and family.”

Lord Lyell is also remembered for his role in the Matrix Churchill case and the ensuing Scott Report in the 1990s.

The lawyer and politician was knighted in 1987 and became a peer in 2005 as Baron Lyell of Markyate.

Lord Lyell is survived by his wife, Susanna and their four children.