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Alan Beith

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Monarch  Elizabeth II
Name  Alan Beith
Preceded by  Charles Kennedy
Role  British Politician
Preceded by  Russell Johnston
Leader  Charles Kennedy

Alan Beith httpsd3n8a8pro7vhmxcloudfrontnetlibdemspage

Leader  Charles Kennedy (until 2006)
Leader  Paddy Ashdown Charles Kennedy
Spouse  Diana Maddock, Baroness Maddock (m. 2001)
Education  Nuffield College, Oxford, Balliol College
Political party  Liberal Party, Liberal Democrats
Books  A View from the North: Lif, Alan Beith: A View from the, Filming of Private Deliberati, The case for the Liberal P, The Fullness of Freedom
Similar People  Diana Maddock - Baroness, Malcolm Bruce, Eric Heffer, John Gummer

Succeeded by  Paul Tyler, Baron Tyler

Sir alan beith mp says you do no good if you put a woman in prison

Alan James Beith, Baron Beith, PC (born 20 April 1943) is a British politician who represented the constituency of Berwick-upon-Tweed as its Member of Parliament (MP) from 1973 to 2015.


Alan Beith httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommons22

From 1992 to 2003, he was Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats and, by 2015, Beith was the longest-serving member of his party sitting in the House of Commons and the last Liberal Democrat MP to have experience of Parliament in the 1970s.

Beith was elevated as a Life Peer in the 2015 Dissolution Honours List and took his title and a seat on the House of Lords Opposition benches on 23 November 2015.

Alan beith mp at north east lib dem regional conference june 2010

Early life

The son of John Beith, of Scottish extraction, he was born in 1943 at Poynton in Cheshire. He was educated at The King's School, Macclesfield before going up to Balliol College, Oxford, where he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics graduating in 1964. He then pursued postgraduate studies at Nuffield College receiving a Bachelor of Letters (BLitt) degree.

In 1966, Beith began his career as a politics lecturer in the University of Newcastle. In 1969 he was elected as a Councillor on Hexham District Council and, in 1970, he was also elected to Corbridge Town Council. He contested Berwick-upon-Tweed as the /Liberal's candidate at the 1970 general election but was heavily defeated by the sitting Conservative MP Antony Lambton.

Parliamentary career

Beith became a member of the North Tynedale District Council in 1973. Later that year, Antony Lambton resigned as an MP following a Fleet Street exposé. At the ensuing by-election on 8 November 1973, Beith was narrowly elected by 57 votes, becoming Berwick's first Liberal MP since 1945.

Just three months after his by-election success, Beith was out canvassing his constituents again at the February 1974 general election, being returned to Parliament with an increased majority of 443. Less than a year after entering the House of Commons, Beith had to contest the constituency for a third time at the October 1974 general election, retaining his seat with a slender majority of 73 votes.

Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party

Beith was appointed to the BBC Advisory Council in 1974 serving as a member until 1984. On the election of David Steel as Liberal Leader in 1976, Beith became the Party's Chief Whip in the Commons. After the 1983 general election, he was appointed Liberal Spokesman for Constitutional Affairs. He was elected as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party in 1985, in both cases continuing his duties as a Commons Chief Whip.

After the 1987 general election, Beith concentrated his efforts as Liberal Spokesman for Treasury Affairs and stood down from being Liberal Chief Whip after eleven years in post. In 1988, the Liberal and Social Democratic parties merged, initially as the Social and Liberal Democrats.

Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Beith stood against Paddy Ashdown in the first leadership election in 1988, an election which Ashdown won by a large margin. Beith stayed on as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats following the 1992 general election under Ashdown until 2003, and was sworn of the Privy Council in 1992. In 1994, he became the Liberal Democrats Shadow Home Secretary and continued in post under Charles Kennedy's leadership. After the 2001 general election he briefly became Lib Dem Shadow Spokesman for the Lord Chancellor's Department, but left the Lib Dem frontbench in 2002, though remaining its Deputy Leader until the following year.

After standing down from the Lib Dem frontbench he chaired the Commons Constitutional Affairs, and Justice Committees. Following Sir Menzies Campbell's resignation as Leader of the Liberal Democrats on 15 October 2007, Beith was encouraged to stand as a prospective compromise candidate for the Lib Dem leadership. However, via his personal website, he announced his decision not to stand for election as party leader.

Later developments

On 19 May 2009, Beith was the first MP to declare his candidacy to succeed Speaker Michael Martin, who stood down from the position on 21 June 2009. Beith pledged he was "willing to take on the task of leading reform" were he elected as Commons Speaker. Conservative MP John Bercow won, becoming the 23rd Speaker of the House Commons of the United Kingdom.

Beith was knighted in the 2008 Birthday Honours.

On 22 May 2009, Beith was reported by The Daily Telegraph to have claimed £117,000 in second home allowances while his wife, Baroness Maddock, claimed £60,000 Lords expenses for sharing the same address.

Replying in writing on both their behalfs to The Telegraph journalist's exposé: "It would be quite wrong for the taxpayer to pay twice for the same costs, so we have shared the costs, either by sharing the cost of rent, or by my wife using her allowance towards costs incurred (she normally claims only half the Lords' overnight allowance)", he argued in defence.

Coalition Government

At the May 2010 general election he was returned as MP for Berwick, albeit his majority was reduced by a substantial swing to the Conservatives.

Beith served as Chairman of the Commons Justice and of the Liaison Select Committees until retiring in 2015.

He was one of only four Liberal Democrat MPs to vote against the third reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. He was the only Liberal Democrat MP to oppose recognising Palestine as a state in the Commons vote on 13 October 2014.

Beith campaigned throughout his years in the House of Commons for the A1 road to be made dual carriageway in Northumberland.

Elevation to the House of Lords

On 7 August 2013, Beith announced his retirement as an MP at the 2015 election, having represented Berwick-upon-Tweed for 42 years. He was announced as a life peer in the 2015 Dissolution Honours and was created Baron Beith, of Berwick-upon-Tweed in the County of Northumberland on the afternoon of 19 October.

Personal life

Beith was married in 1965 to Barbara Ward and they had a son and a daughter. His first wife died in 1998 and he married secondly in 2001 Diana Maddock (née Derbyshire), formerly MP for Christchurch (1993–97).

Beith and Baroness Maddock divide their time between homes at Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland and London SW1; they are one of the few married couples both titled in their own right. Lord Beith serves as President of the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum and of the Historic Chapels Trust, a charity he helped to found and of which was Chair of Trustees 2001-14. Beith is also President of Northumberland Hospital Radio and of the National Liberal Club.

He reportedly speaks French, Norwegian, Swedish and Welsh, and is a keen supporter of heritage matters.

Styles of address

  • 1943-1973: Mr Alan Beith
  • 1973-1992: Mr Alan Beith MP
  • 1992-2008: The Right Honourable Alan Beith MP
  • 2008-2015: The Right Honourable Sir Alan Beith MP
  • 2015: The Right Honourable Sir Alan Beith
  • 2015-: The Right Honourable The Lord Beith PC
  • Honours

  • Life Peer (2015)
  • Knight Bachelor (2008)
  • and, the following honorary doctorates:

  • Hon DCL (Newcastle)
  • Hon DCL (Northumbria)
  • Hon DHL (Earlham).
  • References

    Alan Beith Wikipedia