Senior Labour backbencher Sir Stuart Bell dies after cancer battle
Saturday 13 October 2012
Senior Labour backbencher Sir Stuart Bell died this morning after a short battle with pancreatic cancer, his family said.
The 74-year-old had been MP for Middlesbrough for nearly three decades, and served in key positions in Parliament.
Sir Stuart was the son of a Durham miner, and, after a grammar school education, was briefly a colliery clerk and newspaper reporter before becoming a barrister.
Having lived and worked in Paris for a spell, he returned in 1977 to pursue a career in politics.
He unsuccessfully contested Hexham in 1979, and was a member of Newcastle City Council until he won Middlesbrough in 1983. He went on to hold the seat through seven general elections.
While never serving as a minister, Sir Stuart was the party's Northern Ireland spokesman during the 1980s.
And later in his career he was handed a powerful role on the Commons Commission - the body responsible for running the House.
He played a central role during one of Parliament's most difficult periods, as the long-running scandal of MPs' expenses abuses finally emerged in 2009.
Sir Stuart, who had been suffering pancreatic cancer, died at home with his family around him.
Mr Bell, who was married with one son, was knighted in 2004 for "services to Parliament" and was also awarded the Legion d'Honneur in 2006 for his contributions to Anglo-French relations.
A published novelist as well as the writer of several political works, his role as as MP saw him finally reach the Commons - where as a young man he had dreamed of working for the official record, Hansard.
He was soon appointed a Commons aide to Labour's deputy leader Roy Hattersley before taking on the Northern Ireland role - as well as working with families affected by the Cleveland child abuse scandal.
After the 1992 general election, he was shadow trade minister under both John Smith and Tony Blair and went on to serve for 13 years from 1997 as Second Church Estates Commissioner, handling church/state relations.
Among his political missions was to secure voting reform, leading Labour campaigns for a switch to AV - but he was an active opponent of the party's proposals to replace the House of Lords with a senate.
Labour former Europe minister Chris Bryant paid tribute to the "ardent and intelligent pro-European Labour MP" as parliamentary colleagues began to register their sorrow at his death via Twitter.
Ian Swales, the Liberal Democrat MP for neighbouring Redcar, wrote: "Very sad to hear of the death of Stuart Bell MP. Always a total gentleman to me."
- 1 Caitlyn Jenner car crash: Driver who died in collision sued by surviving passengers for $18.5m
- 3 Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
- 4 Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
Caitlyn Jenner car crash: Driver who died in collision sued by surviving passengers for $18.5m
Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Stock up on canned food for stock market crash, warns former Gordon Brown adviser
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn voters most likely to believe 'world is controlled by a secretive elite'
£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...
£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...