Tributes flow for Edinburgh-born Cabinet minister Lord Jenkin

Lord Jenkin. Picture: Contributed.
Lord Jenkin. Picture: Contributed.
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TRIBUTES have been paid to Edinburgh-born former Conservative Cabinet minister Lord Jenkin of Roding after his death at the age of 90.

The peer was one of the most well-known figures of the Thatcher era, serving as a secretary of state for social services, industry and the environment during the 1980s.

He was born in Edinburgh in September 1926 while his father was a professor of engineering at Edinburgh University.

As Patrick Jenkin, he was elected to the House of Commons in 1964, taking the Wanstead and Woodford seat, following in the footsteps of Sir Winston Churchill, who had held the constituency before its boundaries were changed.

After nearly a quarter of a century serving in the House of Commons he moved to the red benches in 1987 but announced two years ago that he was retiring.

The peer urged other members of the House of Lords to follow his lead to make way for a new generation in the upper chamber.

A statement released yesterday said Lord Jenkin, father of Tory MP Bernard Jenkin, died peacefully at home in Bury St Edmunds, with family at his bedside.

Once described as “tailor-made for the role of scapegoat”, in the 1970s – during the three-day week and the power crisis – he famously urged the nation to clean its teeth in the dark to save electricity.

It was then discovered that he used an electric toothbrush, and his north London home was photographed during this power crisis with every single light blazing.

The Lord Speaker Lord Fowler said Lord Jenkin was a “kind and principled man” who was highly respected in Parliament.

He said: “Patrick Jenkin was a mainstay of the first Thatcher cabinets.

“He headed the Department of Health and Social Security, which dealt with some of the most politically contentious issues of the 1980s.

“He was immensely hard-working and conscientious as I got to understand when taking over from him in 1981. He was also a very kind and principled man.

“He never perhaps received the public credit that he deserved. However, amongst colleagues in the House of Commons and the House of Lords he was highly popular and respected.”

When he retired from politics in 2014, he urged other older Lords to follow his lead and make way for younger newcomers.

He said: “If this house is to continue to perform its hugely important functions in the running of this country, I totally believe that there has to be a constant infusion of new blood introduced.”