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Lord Tebbit bids farewell to Parliament after more than half a century

The Conservative former cabinet minister, who served in Margaret Thatcher’s government, sat as both an MP and later as a peer

09 March 2022

Tributes have been paid to Tory grandee Lord Tebbit as he made his final appearance in Parliament after more than five decades’ service at Westminster.

The Conservative former cabinet minister, who is retiring from the House of Lords, bid his farewell to the red benches on Wednesday as members of his family looked on from the public gallery.

First elected to the House of Commons in 1970, he served in Margaret Thatcher’s government where he gained a reputation for his no-nonsense style, earning him the nickname the “Chingford Skinhead”.

In one of his most controversial speeches in 1981, with millions unemployed, he said that in the 1930s when faced with the dole his father “got on his bike”.

Then employment minister Norman Tebbit speaking at the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool. This speech contained his famous quote about how his father “got on his bike and looked for work
Then employment minister Norman Tebbit speaking at the Conservative Party Conference (Archive/PA)

Lord Tebbit and his late wife were almost killed in the 1984 Brighton bombing by the IRA.

Lady Tebbit, who was seriously injured in the blast, died in 2020.

On leaving the Commons in 1992, the former Conservative Party chairman was made a life peer.

Speaking at the start of questions in the upper chamber, business minister Lord Callanan said: “After 52 years of distinguished service in Parliament this is the final appearance of Lord Tebbit, who is also joined by his family in the public gallery.

“I am sure in speaking on behalf of the whole House in saying it has been greatly enhanced by his presence here and wish him all the very best for his long and happy retirement and we will miss him.”

Brighton bomb
The aftermath of the Brighton bomb (Archive/PA)

Labour frontbencher Lord Kennedy of Southwark said: “I join in paying tribute to the Lord Tebbit for his long and distinguished service in this House and the other place.”

Tory peer Lord Brownlow of Shurlock Row said Lord Tebbit had inspired him as an 18-year-old to get involved in politics.

“I thank him for all his service,” he added.

Labour peer Viscount Stansgate, the son of the late left-wing firebrand Tony Benn, said: “I would like to wish Lord Tebbit well in his retirement.

“He is a man I have disagreed with all my adult life.”

Tory former leader Lord Howard of Lympne also hailed Lord Tebbit for being “such an inspiration to so many of us on the Government benches for so very long”.

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