Obituary: Lord Ross of Newport

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The Independent Online
MAY I add to the obituary of Lord Ross of Newport (by Sir David Steel, 12 May)? writes Lesley Abdela.

In my time as a researcher in the Liberal Whips Office in the late 1970s I worked with Steve Ross and other Liberal MPs and peers on issues which have since become dominant in the national mind - from new ways to work, constitutional reform, the environment and above all (as far as Steve was concerned) on housing. I believe the Liberal housing programme, evolved during that House of Commons period by Steve as MP for the Isle of Wight, is still far and away the most appropriate for the United Kingdom. As David Steel points out, Steve Ross was still Chair of the National Housing Forum right up to his death.

Housing was and still is at the very heart of a society's measure of civilised attainment. By that standard, the United Kingdom is wretchedly below par. Over the past 12 years or so, not only have worthwhile and effective measures to improve housing for people with low incomes, lone parents, the old and vulnerable not been taken, but we have seen a disgusting and horrifying downward spiral in the nation's housing, with people in cardboard boxes and suffering inferior conditions everywhere.

Steve Ross's abiding legacy will be that he showed umpteen hundreds of us who may otherwise have taken housing for granted that it is a subject of quite extraordinary concern and a sign of a government - suited or not suited - to govern a great nation.