|The Right Honourable
The Lord Beith
|Lib Dem Shadow Leader of the Commons|
29 August 1999 – 15 May 2003
|Preceded by||Charles Kennedy|
|Succeeded by||Paul Tyler|
|Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats|
11 April 1992 – 12 February 2003
|Preceded by||Russell Johnston|
|Succeeded by||Menzies Campbell|
|Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesman|
12 July 1994 – 29 August 1999
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Simon Hughes|
|Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party|
1985 – 16 July 1988
|Preceded by||John Pardoe (from 1979)|
|Succeeded by||Russell Johnston (Lib Dems)|
|Liberal Chief Whip in the Commons|
|Preceded by||Cyril Smith|
|Succeeded by||David Alton|
|Member of Parliament
8 November 1973 – 30 March 2015
|Preceded by||Viscount Lambton|
|Succeeded by||Anne-Marie Trevelyan|
20 April 1943 |
|Political party||Liberal (before 1988)
Liberal Democrats (1988–present)
|Spouse(s)||Barbara Ward (1965–1998)
Diana, Baroness Maddock (2001–present)
|Alma mater||Oxford University (MA, BLitt)|
Alan James Beith, Baron Beith, PC (formerly known as Sir Alan Beith; born 20 April 1943) is a British politician who represented the constituency of Berwick-upon-Tweed as its Member of Parliament (MP) from 1973 to 2015.
From 1992 to 2003 he was Deputy Liberal Democratic Party Leader and, by 2015, Sir Alan was the longest-serving member of his party sitting in the House of Commons and the last Liberal Democrat//Liberal MP to have experience of Parliament from the 1970s.
The son of John Beith, of Scottish extraction, he was born in 1943 at Poynton in Cheshire. He was educated at The King's School, Macclesfield before going up to Balliol College, Oxford, where he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics graduating in 1964. He then pursued postgraduate studies at Nuffield College receiving a Bachelor of Letters (BLitt) degree.
In 1966 Beith began his career as a politics lecturer in the University of Newcastle. In 1969 he was elected as a Councillor on Hexham District Council and, in 1970 he was also elected to Corbridge Town Council. He contested Berwick-upon-Tweed as the Liberal prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) at the 1970 general election but was heavily defeated by the sitting Conservative MP Antony Lambton (formerly styled Viscount Lambton).
Member of Parliament
In 1973 Alan Beith was elected to the North Tynedale District Council, and later that year Antony Lambton resigned as an MP following a Fleet Street exposé. At the ensuing by-election on 8 November 1973, Beith secured a famous victory, by a mere 57 votes, becoming Berwick's first Liberal MP since 1945.
The next year was to prove a major campaigning effort for the newly elected Alan Beith MP, just three months after his by-election success he was out canvassing his constituents again at the February 1974 general election, being returned to Parliament with an increased majority of 443. Less than a year after entering the House of Commons, Beith had to contest the constituency for a third time in quick succession at the October 1974 general election, winning but with the reduced slim majority of just 73 votes.
Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party
Beith was appointed to the BBC Advisory Council in 1974 serving as a member until 1984. On the election of David Steel as Liberal Leader in 1976, Alan Beith became the Party's Chief Whip in the Commons. After the 1983 general election he was appointed Liberal Spokesman for Constitutional Affairs. He was elected as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party in 1985, in both cases continuing his duties as a Commons Chief Whip.
After the 1987 general election, Beith concentrated his efforts as Liberal Spokesman for Treasury Affairs and stood down from being Liberal Chief Whip after eleven years in post. In 1988 the Liberal and Social Democratic parties joined forces as the SDP–Liberal Alliance (SLD).
Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Beith stood against Paddy Ashdown in the first leadership election in 1988, an election which Ashdown won by a large margin. Beith stayed on as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats following the 1992 general election under Ashdown until 2003, and was sworn of the Privy Council in 1992. In 1994, he became the Lib Dem Shadow Home Secretary and continued in post under Charles Kennedy's leadership. After the 2001 general election he briefly became Lib Dem Shadow Spokesman for the Lord Chancellor's Department, but left the Lib Dem frontbench in 2002, though remaining its Deputy Leader until the following year.
After standing down from the Lib Dem frontbench he chaired the Commons Constitutional Affairs, and Justice Committees. Following Sir Menzies Campbell's resignation as Leader of the Liberal Democrats on 15 October 2007, Beith was encouraged to stand as a prospective compromise candidate for the Lib Dem leadership. However, via his personal website, he announced his decision not to stand for election as party leader.
At the May 2010 general election he was returned as MP for Berwick, albeit his majority was reduced by a substantial swing to the Conservatives.
On 7 August 2013, Sir Alan announced his retirement as an MP at the 2015 election, having represented Berwick-upon-Tweed for 42 years. He was announced as a life peer in the 2015 Dissolution Honours and was created Baron Beith, of Berwick-upon-Tweed in the County of Northumberland on the afternoon of 19 October.
2009 House of Commons Speakership election
On 19 May 2009, Beith was the first MP to declare his candidacy to succeed Speaker Michael Martin, who stood down from the position on 21 June 2009. Sir Alan Beith pledged he was "willing to take on the task of leading reform" were he elected as Commons Speaker. Conservative MP John Bercow won, becoming the 23rd Speaker of the House Commons of the United Kingdom.
On 22 May 2009, Sir Alan was reported by The Daily Telegraph to have claimed £117,000 in second home allowances while his wife, Baroness Maddock, claimed £60,000 Lords expenses for sharing the same address.
Replying in writing on both their behalfs to The Telegraph journalist's exposé: "It would be quite wrong for the taxpayer to pay twice for the same costs, so we have shared the costs, either by sharing the cost of rent, or by my wife using her allowance towards costs incurred (she normally claims only half the Lords' overnight allowance)", he argued in defence.
He was one of only four Liberal Democrat MPs to vote against the third reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. He was the only Liberal Democrat MP to oppose recognising Palestine as a state in the Commons vote on 13 October 2014.
Beith was married in 1965 to Barbara Ward and they had a son and a daughter. His first wife died in 1998 and he married secondly in 2001 Diana Maddock (née Derbyshire), formerly MP for Christchurch (1993–97).
Sir Alan serves as President of the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum and of the Historic Chapels Trust, a charity he helped to found and of which was Chair of Trustees 2001-14. Beith is also President of Northumberland Hospital Radio and of the National Liberal Club.
Honours and distinctions
and, the following honorary doctorates:
- "Dissolution Peerages 2015". Gov.uk. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- "House of Lords Official Report 23 November 2015" (PDF). parliament.uk. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
- Debrett's People of Today
- Alan Beith to step down in 2015. Liberal Democrat Voice (07 August 2013). Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- The London Gazette: . 23 October 2015. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
- "First MP discusses run for Speaker". BBC News. 19 May 2009. Archived from the original on 20 May 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
- www.parliament.uk: Mr Speaker
- Winnett, Robert; Watt, Holly; Prince, Rosa (22 May 2009). "MPs' expenses: cover-up of Ian Gibson and his daughter’s cut-price flat deal". Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 25 May 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2009.
- Beith, Alan (22 May 2009). "Beith publishes full Telegraph questions and answers". Archived from the original on 25 May 2009. Retrieved 16 June 2009.
- "Justice Committee Membership". parliament.uk. Retrieved 24 July 2011.
- MPs who voted against the Third Reading of the Equal Marriage Bill. Pink News. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 13 Oct 2014 (pt 0004)". parliament.uk.
- "MPs debate Palestine and Israel". UK Parliament.
- Retiring MP Sir Alan Beith. Chronicle. Retrieved 06 October 2014.
- "About Alan Beith". berwicklibdems.org.uk. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
- Mosley, Charles (ed.) (2003). Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 107th edn. London: Burke's Peerage & Gentry Ltd. p. 2559 (MADDOCK, LP). ISBN 0-9711966-2-1.
- The London Gazette: . 18 August 2009.
- Official website
- Profile at the Liberal Democrats
- Profile at Parliament of the United Kingdom
- Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
- Current session contributions in Parliament at Hansard
- Voting record at Public Whip
- Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
- Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
- Profile at BBC News Democracy Live
- Profile at New Statesman "Your Democracy"
- www.burkespeerage.com: MADDOCK, LP
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Member of Parliament
|Party political offices|
Sir Cyril Smith
|Liberal Chief Whip in the House of Commons
as Deputy Leader of the Liberals
|Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party
as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats
|Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Sir Menzies Campbell