Tributes paid to former Stratford MP Lord Maples

FRIENDS and colleagues have paid tribute to the former Stratford MP Lord Maples, whose death was announced yesterday (Monday).

Lord Maples, who had been MP for Stratford from 1997 to 2010, died on Saturday. He was 69 and had been suffering from prostate cancer.

Formerly an MP for Lewisham West, he lost his seat in 1992 and was elected for Stratford in 1997 following the defection to Labour of the constituency previous MP Alan Howarth.

John Holloway was the MP’s parliamentary agent between 1999 and 2010, and described Mr Maples as quiet, private, calm, very measured and “one of the nicest people you would wish to know.”

He said: “He worked very hard for his constituents on an individual basis. It was always a great pleasure when he was able to help people.”

A barrister, he entered Parliament as MP for Lewisham West in 1983, he became exchequer secretary to the Treasury between July 1990 and April 1992. His ministerial career was ended after he lost his seat at the 1992 election.

Active while William Hague was Conservative leader, Lord Maples held shadow frontbench positions including foreign affairs, health and defence. He was brought back by David Cameron as deputy party chairman with responsibility for selection of new candidates.

The MP was credited or blamed for the introduction of all-women shortlists, but Mr Holloway feels even if this was not entirely true, Mr Maples was a moderniser whose young family gave him a new perspective.

He became a life peer after standing down before the 2010 general election, but remained in the constituency.

Constituency chairman Philip Seccombe described Lord Maples as “a gentleman”, and an MP who listened to people’s views before making his mind up.

He said: “He understated his own talents and was always there to help anybody. He helped hundreds, if not thousands of people, either communities having problems or individuals with housing, family or housing problems.

“He did things because he felt they ought to be done, as well as enjoying the job of being an MP.

“He was very diligent, straight and fair. We were all very sorry when he said he was going to stand down.”

Cllr Alan Farnell, leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “Lord Maples was a fine constituency MP who represented Stratford with distinction for 13 years, and he will be greatly missed by friends and colleagues.

“John was a close ally and friend of the county council administration and he would regularly come to talk to us as a group, or individually as cabinet members. He had a wealth of experience in Westminster and was a sound adviser on all manner of issues.

“We remember John as a gentleman, and as a reliable Parliamentarian with a measured approach to politics. He was a real family man and our thoughts are with his wife Jane and children Rose and Tom.”

Lord Maples leaves his widow, the journalist Jane Corbin, and two children.

A memorial service will be held in Stratford in September.