Former MP Lord Jenkin dies peacefully at his Bury St Edmunds home

Conservative former Cabinet minister Lord Jenkin of Roding

Conservative former Cabinet minister Lord Jenkin of Roding

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Conservative former Cabinet minister Lord Jenkin of Roding has died, it has been announced.

The peer, who lived in Bury St Edmunds, 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.

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

Conservative former Cabinet minister Lord Jenkin of Roding

Conservative former Cabinet minister Lord Jenkin of Roding

Lord Jenkin, 90, championed David Cameron’s same-sex marriage reforms at a time when they were causing deep divisions within the Tory party.

He told peers that he had always opposed discrimination against gay men and women after having a discussion as a young man with his grandfather, who had told him “it is as foolish to condemn those who have homosexual proclivities as it is to condemn them for having red hair”.

“I have lived with that all my life and I have always opposed discrimination against homosexuals,” he added.

During the Thatcher era, he went head to head with Ken Livingstone as he led the controversial abolition of the Greater London Council.

Although loyal to the prime minister despite political differences, he was dropped from her top team in 1985, with his handling of the process said to have done for his Cabinet career.

Away from the Westminster bubble, the peer liked to relax with a spot of bricklaying as well as sailing and gardening.

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

The Lord Speaker 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.”