Obituary: The Earl of Bessborough

AS Eric Bessborough's colleague on the Budget Energy Committee of the indirectly elected European Parliament from 1976 to 1979 may I add to Alan Bell's justifiably kind and perceptive tribute (18 December)? writes Tam Dalyell.

His European Parliament Committee colleagues who assumed rightly that Eric was a considerable grandee soon discovered something else - that he was also a worker. Few members at Luxembourg or Brussels of the Strasbourg parliament went to greater trouble to read their documents beforehand and, if necessary, make inquiries about the subject before it was discussed.

Allow me but one memory. It was decided some months after the terrible earthquake which engulfed Friuli, by Heinrich Aigner, the CSU member for Regensburg- Passau and chairman of the Audit Committee, that a delegation of five MEPs should go to try to ascertain whether the rumours of misappropriation of European funds in the earthquake area had any substance. The delegation was to consist of one Liberal, the German Martin Bangemann, a Conservative, Eric Bessborough and a Socialist, me, and two Italians, one a Socialist and the other a Christian Democrat. I went to Eric and said: 'I've drawn blank. It's beyond me to persuade any Italian member of the Socialist group to come with us.' 'Well,' he said, 'at least I'll have another go with the Christians, but I have done no better.'

The following day I asked him how he'd got on. I never saw him so angry. 'Not one of them will touch it. I told the boss that one of them at least had a moral obligation to accompany us and he looked at me as if I were a silly little boy.' His name? Giulio Andreotti.

Typically when he arrived at the devastated towns and villages, Bessborough - in his mid-sixties - was game to come round the camps of earthquake victims late at night. As the Friulian senior Commission official Senor Lanaducci put it: 'Milord Bessborough is a constructive and useful European]'

For 40 years he was also a useful and constructive member and regular attender of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
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

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee