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Sir Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield) (Con): My tribute will be very brief but very personal. Jim Callaghan was approachable, kind, decent and a very human individual. An illustration of those qualities is all I want to give. During the years when he was Prime Minister, Macclesfield high school for girls won the BBC's "Top of the Form" competition, beating the Newark grammar school for boys. It was wonderful, and what displays the interest that an excellent Prime Minister had in education was that he invited the two finalist teams to Downing street for the presentation of their awards and to join himself and Audrey for tea.
I had been in Parliament just a few years, then, and I have to say that it was a Labour Prime Minister who invited me to Downing street, together with the late Ted Bishop, who became Lord Bishopton and with whom I had a close relationship. I was given very generous and personal hospitality by the Prime Minister of this country and his charming and utterly delightful wife, Audrey. Even more than that, however, the teams and myself were shown all the wonderful rooms in Downing street, including the Cabinet room. I had never seen those facilities under a Conservative Prime Minister, and I have, perhaps, in other ways, too, benefited from a Labour Prime Minister.
Julie Morgan (Cardiff, North) (Lab): It is a great privilege to have this opportunity to pay tribute to Lord Callaghan of Cardiff, known to everyone in Cardiff as Jim. My memories of Jim are very personal.
I worked for Jim in the first general election campaign I was involved in back in 1964, in what was then Cardiff, South-East. I was a postal vote canvasser employed by the Labour party for the princely sum of £5 a week during my holidays from London university. That gave me a taste for politics, and it was an exciting and
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stimulating time. I got to know Jim and Audrey and their three children very well, and it was a privilege to know the whole family.
Although Jim had been a Member of Parliament since 1945, in the previous election Michael Roberts, who later became MP for Cardiff, Northmy seathad reduced his majority to less than 1,000, so there was great anxiety that Labour might lose Jim, who was seen as a cornerstone of the party. We all knew that if we had a Labour Government, we would need someone like Jim as a steady hand on the tiller. If we put up old age pensions, as we did, and if there was a run on the pound, we would need somebody like Jim to be there. He was seen as very important, as a very experienced politician. In that election campaign we all went all out to get him elected.
I pay tribute to Jim's support and encouragement for young people. The campaign in 1964, in Cardiff, was dominated by young people. It encouraged many of us to get involved in politics and to make it our lives. In that campaign there was a future leader of the Labour party, Neil Kinnock, who is now Lord Kinnock, as well as Glenys Parry, now Glenys Kinnock and a Member of the European Parliament. We were all together in the campaign. There was also Rhodri Morgan, now leader of the Welsh Assembly. I can thank Jim Callaghan very much for bringing us together at that time.
I have two very personal memories of Jim from that time and from that successful election campaign, and they have been referred to already. One was his passion for university education. Jim did not have a degree but he thought that it was so important to encourage other people to obtain one. I was at university in London at that time. The election date was set for October 1964, four days after the start of the university term. I had been totally absorbed in the election campaign the whole time. Jim kept telling me that I must go back to university, whereas I thought that the most important thing was to be present to see Labour win Cardiff, South-East and to see the success of the future Chancellor of the Exchequer, so we had a big battle of wills about whether I should return to university.
The other issue that he felt passionate about was getting rid of the widows' earnings rule. This meant that widows who worked would no longer have their widows' pension cut. Jim's mother was a widow. I believe that he was 10 years old when he lost his father. Jim knew what it was like to be brought up in tough circumstances. I was in a similar family with a widowed mother. The change in the widows' earnings rule that Labour brought in had an immediate effect on my family's circumstances and showed why we needed a Labour Government and why we needed Jim in that Government.
I remember Jim for his passion on those two issues in particular. Coupled with his passion was his ability to get things done. Jim was a practical politician. He was very dependable and determined. He was a huge asset to the Labour party and to politics in general. His passing is a huge loss to the Labour party and to Cardiff.
Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey) (LD):
It is a privilege to add a word or two. My family moved to Cardiff when I was eight. I can testify, as Lord
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Callaghan's successor has done, to the admiration in which Jim Callaghan was held in Cardiff among my school friends. He was known and loved, as was George Thomas, and that is unusual among politicians. I remember that at my Dad's bottling stores on the Penarth road, everybody knew him and respected him.
I admired him from afar when Jim Callaghan was Prime Minister. After what was by any definition, as colleagues in the House will remember, an uncomfortable by-election in 1983, which I won, he was courteous enough after my maiden speech, when he sat behind me, to be generous in appreciation and offering me his support. For all of the time until he died, he kept with his family a house in my constituency. I canvassed it at every election, more out of courtesy than out of any great hope, and conscious that peers are not allowed to vote. As Jim Callaghan, Denis Healey and Merlyn Rees all lived in the same part of the borough, it was not surprising that it was the last ward to fall to my colleagues and me when gradually we won wards from the Labour party. Jim Callaghan always gave advice, he was always courteous and he was always friendly. I was always grateful to have that experience, as someone who came to politics much later than he.
My borough offered him the freedom of the borough. Jim's son gratefully received it on his behalf, as he was not well enough to come at the time. On a cross-party basis, we honoured him. I share the appreciation of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ross, Skye and Inverness, West (Mr. Kennedy) for what Jim Callaghan has given the country, and for his patriotism. I share the wish to send condolences to his family.
I can encourage right hon. and hon. Members: it is not only in the female line that Jim Callaghan's political interests have been sustained. His son is still reminding the politicians on the other side of the river that there are jobs to be done, and is still politically active in the local community. We are grateful not only for Jim Callaghan but for the Jim Callaghan legacy.
Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge) (Lab):
I just want to add my brief personal encounter with Jim Callaghan to the tributes. I came to the House of Commons after a by-election in 1985, and I made my maiden speech on what became the Public Order Act 1986. I was immediately drafted on to the Standing Committee, where the Opposition were led by my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Sir Gerald Kaufman), who kindly decided that on Report Members who had served in Committee should move their amendments at the Dispatch Box. After only a few months in the House of Commons, I therefore found myself moving Opposition amendments at the Dispatch Box. After moving one amendment and filing into the Lobby, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned round and saw Jim Callaghan, who said, "Was that you at the Dispatch Box?" I said, "Yes, sir, it was." He said, "Very good. Don't let them move you on." That was kind of him, and it only confirms what has been said about his generosity to new Members. Unfortunately, his words of wisdom were not passed on to the powers that be, but they confirm that, above all, he was a very kind and decent man, and he will be sadly missed.
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Mr. Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op): May I add a brief footnote, Mr. Deputy Speaker? I first met Jim at the 1979 general election when he came to speak at Huddersfield town hall. As the new candidate, I was asked to chair the meeting, and I remember the awe in which I held him. When I entered Parliament, he was very kind. I got to know him extremely well, and I also got to know his family very well. In those days, four of us shared a room on the East Corridor, and next door was a room occupied by the former Prime Minister. I saw a lot of Jimhe would pop in, and he got to know my children, as they would pop into his room. I would see members of his family coming along the corridor, and got to know many of them.
Jim was exceedingly kind, and I shall give two illustrations. I was working on a book with an American co-author on Professor Harold Laski. I interviewed Jim about his knowledge of Professor Laski, who was a major figure in the 1930s and 1940s. Many Members have said today that Jim regretted not having a university education. That is true, but when I researched the book, he told me, "You know, being in the war was like being at university in a strange way. I read more than most undergraduates read in their three or four years." He told me that Harold Laski wrote to him wherever he was in the worldremember what a dangerous thing he was engaged in, being at sea in the warencouraging him to return to the London School of Economics. However, Jim was elected to Parliament and never gained that university degree.
I shall conclude on a caring note. Every five or 10 years, the Labour Members of the 1979 generation have an anniversary dinner. The last time, on our 25th anniversary, Jim sent a lovely note to say that he could not make it, but he usually came. Ten years ago, he said that he had a guilty conscience about us. He said, "I call you my lost boys, because I lost the 1979 general election and put you into opposition for 18 years." That shows the thoughtfulness of a man whom I will always remember. I thank God that I knew him, and that I had the benefit of many hours in his company.
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