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Mr. Jeffrey M. Donaldson (Lagan Valley) (DUP): Reference has been made to the contribution that Sir Edward made in Northern Ireland. During his time as Prime Minister, we had some of the most difficult years of what have become known as the troubles, particularly the early 1970s. We had the largest loss of life in 1972, while he was Prime Minister. While we on this Bench would have had our differences with Sir Edward, most notably over the Sunningdale agreement and entry into the European Economic Community, we recognise his contribution.
It has already been referred to that Sir Edward was a Prime Minister who did not believe that terrorism should succeed and, in Northern Ireland, he provided the Army to counter the activity in the early 1970s of the newly formed Provisional IRA. He was a statesman and that was obvious from his approach not only in Northern Ireland but on other issues. In dealing with the situation in Northern Ireland, he brought his experience of the second world war and his knowledge of the Army to bear in very difficult and trying times for the people not only of Northern Ireland but of the United Kingdom. We salute his courage in terms of the decisions that he had to make at that time in countering terrorism and in dealing with the threat that existed there and which sadly continues even to this day.
I would like on a personal level to pay tribute to Sir Edward as a Member of Parliament. He was the Father of the House when I was first elected to the House of
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Commons and one could see that he was greatly devoted to this House. As other right hon. and hon. Members have mentioned, he remained here to make his contribution long after he lost his position as Prime Minister. As a new MP, I held him as someone for whom there was great respect and admiration for the contribution that he made to the House. We will all mourn his passing as a great parliamentarian and statesman who undoubtedly left his mark on the United Kingdom.
Mr. Ian Taylor (Esher and Walton) (Con): Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer), I met Ted Heath early on in my political career. I was national chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students in 1968 when the students were rioting, and Sir Edward Boyle encouraged me to go to see the then Leader of the Opposition at Albany. I did so increasingly; I went once a month. One of the people who opened the door to his flat, who subsequently became Foreign Secretary, was Douglas Hurd, now Lord Hurd. He was very encouraging to me.
Ted Heath came to the national conference of the Federation of Conservative Students on a day that was not necessarily his best. He was in one of his more taciturn moods. Those colleagues who remember Ted in one of those moods know that it was quite hard work sometimes to keep the conversation going. Some 20 people were introduced to Ted, and he grumbled and grunted and I tried to animate the conversation. As he lefteveryone had disappearedhe broke into a broad smile, shifted his shoulders in his typical way and said, "Hmm, not bad. I agreed with some of the views that you gave to these people. I must make use of you more often."
That was one of the more difficult periods, but I should point out that although Ted was unfailingly encouraging, he was also a hard taskmaster. I was lucky enough to sit on the policy committee between 1970 and 1974, which was chaired by Chris, now Lord, Patten. Ted showed great concern about the way in which policy had to shift in reaction to some very difficult events, such as the problems with the unions and with Rolls-Royce. He did not take those decisions easily. Those of us who argued their case within that committeeI, for my part, was a very lowly personwere nevertheless part of those discussions, which provided a real insight into, and showed concern for, the state of the nation. Moreover, as others have said, Ted had a deep understanding of the problems of unemployment. To some extent, unemployment is no longer a focus of political debate, but in the period 1970 to 1974, Ted, remembering the 1930s, took very seriously and was pained by the problems that he had to face.
I entered the House in 1987, and Ted always encouraged me. I have possibly been known as a pro-European, and I remember making what for me was a passionately pro-European speech, much to the irritation of one or two of my colleagues. As I passed Ted sitting in the Chamber, he nodded to me, so I sat down in the seat next to him. He said, "Hmm. Not really pro-European enough." But when I later became chairman of the European Movement, he was unfailingly supportive and was ready to make speeches and to go anywhere. He wanted to ensure that there
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were those of us who carried the torch for his insightan insight into the importance of Britain's playing its part, with other European nations, in providing a structure to resolve crises that, in his earlier years, could be resolved only by terrible conflict.
Ted was a great man and he did have that hinterland. In a sense, it was an irony that he was taken more seriously ill after attending the Salzburg music festival. It was his interest in music that drove him forward. Those of us lucky enough to have visited his homes in London and Salisbury remember how central music was to his whole persona, to his wit and to his amazing stories about the people whom he had met, particularly in China, which became a very important part of his life.
The Prime Minister mentioned something that illustrates Ted's political courage. Ted was an early member of the "One Nation" group, of which my late father-in-law, Lord Alport, was also a founder. What is sometimes forgotten is that Enoch Powell was a member of that group in the 1950s; indeed, he was its secretary. Many years later, in the 1960s, when Ted dismissed Enoch Powell from the Tory party, it was an old friend whom he was dismissing, which made that decision even more remarkably courageous.
Ted was a man of principle. He had views, based on decency and one-nation politics, that many of us in the Tory party still hold. He was a great statesman, a great Member of this House and a great individual. I shall miss him a lot.
Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey) (LD): I just want to offer a very brief postscript to the excellent tributes from the Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Mr. Kennedy) and the leader of the Tory party. I want to pay testimony to the work that Sir Edward did for constituents during my time in this House, and not just in the normal way. He also worked to ensure that on issues affecting south-east London, colleagues from across the parties did what they were meant to do, and that they did it together in order to be more effective. He ensured that we worked together courteously, effectively and efficiently, and in doing so he sometimes provided great hospitality. I remember, for example, being given a very luxurious breakfast at his flat as we discussed a complex constituency case.
In 1974the year the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Ms Stuart) came to BritainI, along with some 11 other Britons, went, through a bursary, to the College of Europe, in Bruges. We arrived there as British students to find that Britain was hugely enhanced by what Edward Heath had done as Prime Minister. The status of Britain had been changed in the eyes of our European peers. That generation of students saw Britain differently.
When we were doing post-graduate European studies and Edward Heath was defeated for the leadership, it came as a shock to our colleagues. They were shocked that a European statesman could have been moved out of his position as leader of the Tory party. I want to pay tribute, above all, to the enhanced reputation that he gave Britain in Europe in the 1970s. He was truly a European statesman then; he has remained a European statesman; and I am sure that he will always be remembered as a European statesman.
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Hywel Williams (Caernarfon) (PC): I would like to associate my party, Plaid Cymru, and the Scottish National party with the many tributes paid to Sir Edward Heath in this place and earlier today. It is a daunting task, given that he entered this place before I was bornand by some stretch. In fact, his career would be remarkable if only for its longevity: he spent 51 years in this place as a Member and Prime Minister. That is almost unique and is exceeded by few: I can think of my predecessor Member but two for Caernarfon, David Lloyd Georgeand it is right to mention those two in the same breath.
Sir Edward Heath's career was remarkable, of course, for many things other than its length. His hinterland beyond politics was his great interest in sailing and music, but his career will stand in history because of his achievement in taking the United Kingdom into the European Economic Community and his other achievements arising from his personal commitment, his determination and his political skill. We on this Bench salute him.
Peter Luff (Mid-Worcestershire) (Con): I certainly wish to associate myself with all the generous tributes given by right hon. and hon. Members today. Speaking as someone who had the great privilege of working for Sir Edward for three years as head of his private office, I would point out that there is one aspect that has not been mentioned today or in the tributes in the national media.
There is much I could say about his courage, which I saw, at first hand, between 1980 and 1982 when I worked for him. For example, there was his courage in warning South Africa of the dangers of apartheid and also his courageous role in conveying to the British Government the basis on which the Chinese were prepared to settle the future of Hong Kong. I was there. After his comments on apartheid, we were bundled out of South Africa and I was there in the Great Hall of the People with Deng Xiaoping, when he revealed his plans to Sir Edward. Margaret Thatcher chose not to believe that the Chinese could use Sir Edward as a vehicle for communication and negotiations were stalled for some years as a result.
I was also with him at the time of the publication of "North-South: A Programme for Survival", better known as the Brandt report. I accompanied Sir Edwardor "EH" as his staff were privileged to call
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himon many of his UK tours to raise awareness of the importance of tackling world poverty. In his later years, that became a cause that was every bit as important to him as membership of the European Union. His dedication to it, long before it was as fashionable as it is today, is something that should be remembered and honoured. Making poverty history was his objective long before the phrase was coined. This loyal member of his staff will miss him greatly.
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