Obituary: Iain Mills

Elected a Conservative MP at his first attempt in 1979, Iain Mills was a robust defender of the interests of his constituents in Meriden, which takes in parts of Solihull and Birmingham Airport. He loved England and especially Meriden, and was often in the forefront of campaigns warning against incursions into the surrounding green belt. He was cautious about European developments.

A behind-the-scenes man, Mills seldom claimed the limelight and that was true of his important work on the Committee corridor of the House of Commons, where he served diligently on backbench, standing and select committees on such subjects as employment, transport safety, Community trademarks and European legislation. Often he was in the chair, having been appointed by the Speaker as a member of the Speaker's panel of chairmen. A crucial ingredient of his work on committees - and most certainly why he was appointed - was that he was trusted and respected by all parties represented on them.

Born in Hillhead, Glasgow, in 1940, the son of an accountant and company director, he grew up in what was then Rhodesia - now Zimbabwe - and was educated at Prince Edward's School in Salisbury, and at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, where he read Chemical Engineering. In 1961 he began his service with Dunlop in Rhodesia, spending three years as a tyre designer, before moving to England as Marketing Planning Manager and the designer in charge of Dunlop's racing tyre development - where he was involved in the detail, and excitement, of Grand Prix racing. He made an important input into the design of the tyres on which Jackie Stewart won the world motor racing title in 1969, 1971 and 1973.

Mills's specialisms in Parliament, within a wide and eclectic range of interests, were the motor industry (he co-chaired the All Party Motor Industry Group) and what are rather clumsily known as intellectual property matters: copyright, patents, counterfeiting. He worked tirelessly to try to get the European Patents Office sited in London, rather than Munich, and in wider ways to stop the penetration of European markets by unsatisfactory and substandard imitation products and components. He was also a keen campaigner for animal rights, and on one occasion tried to ban goldfish as fairground prizes.

His parliamentary work was preceded in politics by assiduous local government service in Staffordshire and in particular in Lichfield, where he served on the district council from 1974 to 1976. He was a bluff and hearty man and a careful friend. He liked a drink and a joke with his friends when his relentless daily schedule was done.

Before settling down to the crucial committee burden, which he accepted cheerfully, he had been Parliamentary Private Secretary to Norman Tebbit (1981-87). They worked well together. But ministerial office did not come Mills's way and this may have been a disappointment.

When I became his next-door neighbour as the MP for the other half of the borough of Solihull he immediately suggested we ignore the convention about not being seen about in another Member's constituency without that Member's consent and I readily agreed. He was an easy and considerate man to work with.

Iain Campbell Mills, politician: born Glasgow 21 April 1940; MP (Conservative) for Meriden 1979-97; PPS to Minister of State for Industry 1981-82, to Secretary of State for Employment 1982-83, to Secretary of State for Trade and Industry 1983-85, to Chancellor of Duchy of Lancaster 1985-87; Chairman, Community Trade Mark Committee 1984-97; Joint Chairman, All Party Motor Industry Group 1992-97; married 1971 Gaynor Jeffries; died London 16 January 1997.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

E150/2014 - English Language Checker (Grade B3)

On Application: Council of Europe: The European Court of Human Rights’s judgme...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice