Never headed for the highest peaks - his greatest political roles were as John Gummer's parliamentary private secretary and a vice-chairman of the Conservative Party - Sir Hal, 65, was nevertheless a devoted MP for Bromsgrove in the West Midlands from 1974 until he retired at the last election.
His loyalty to local industry did not aid his political fortunes: in 1981 he resigned as PPS to Francis Pym in protest at subsidies to British Steel that were damaging small steel companies in his area. He maintains it was his interest in seeing justice done to the executives of the local firm Walter Somers in the arms-to-Iraq affair that led him to challenge the Government over the issue in 1990.
After Eton and Oxford, Sir Hal worked in the Colonial Service in Hong Kong until 1968. 'Going into politics', he told the Independent on Sunday last year, 'was my biggest mistake . . . I mistakenly assumed there would be a system for promotion based on merit and experience'.
He erred, he said, in pursuing interests in Europe rather than making alliances in Confactions. Yet, despite the apparent bitterness, Sir Hal remains a party man. He is a team-player by nature: a part-time rugby referee, and legendary among contemporaries for his fearlessness in the organised Etonian riot known as the Wall Game.
Unpleasant though his revelations are, the Government would have enjoyed them even even less had he made them in 1991 to the trade and industry select committee. But that was in the run-up to the general election.Reuse content