Sir Alan Beith


Alan Beith was re-elected MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed in May 2010 with a majority of 2,690 votes.

Alan Beith is the longest serving MP on the Liberal Democrat benches having been first elected at a by-election in November 1973. A former Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats from 1992 to 2002, he has been a member of the Privy Council since 1992.

A lecturer in politics at Newcastle University, Alan was elected as a councillor on the Hexham District Council in 1969 and first stood for Parliament in Berwick-upon-Tweed at the General Election in 1970. Defeated then by the Conservative, Lord Lambton, Alan won election by just 57 votes in November 1973 in a by-election following Lambton's resignation. Within a year Alan had to defend his seat at the two General Elections of 1974 in February and October, when he held on by margins of 443 and 74.

He has held the seat at every election since and in 2005 his majority was 8,632. On the election of David Steel as Leader of the Liberal Party in 1976, Alan became the party's Chief Whip in the Commons, and after the 1983 General Election he also became the Liberal spokesman on Constitutional Affairs. In 1985 he was elected Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, while continuing as Chief Whip, from which position he stood down after the General Election of 1987 and eleven years in post. Alan then concentrated on a new role as spokesman on Treasury Affairs.

In 1998 when the Liberal Party joined with the Social Democratic Party to produce the new party of the Liberal Democrats, Alan contested the new party's first leadership election which was won by Paddy Ashdown. Alan became Paddy's Deputy Leader after the General Election of 1992, and took on the role of Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Affairs spokesman. After the 2001 General Election he was briefly the spokesman on the Lord Chancellor's Department, but left the front bench in 2002. He has chaired the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee since 2001. Alan is a Methodist lay preacher and has been chairman of the Historic Chapels Trust since 2002. He is President of the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum.

He has an interest in all historic buildings, and takes pleasure in boating, music and walking. His foreign languages are Welsh, French and Norwegian. His first wife, Barbara, whom he married in 1965 and by whom he had a son and a daughter, died in 1991, and his son died in 2000. Alan remarried in 2001 to Baroness Maddock (formerly Diana Maddock, Liberal Democrat MP for Christchurch, 1993-1997). Alan Beith was appointed to the Privy Council in The Queen's Birthday Honours in June 1992. He was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours in June 2008.

Education: King's School, Macclesfield, Balliol and Nuffield Colleges, Oxford

Experience: Politics Lecturer at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Parliamentary experience: 2001 to present: Chair of Justice Committee (formerly Constitutional Affairs Committee); member of the Intelligence and Security Committee; Deputy Leader Lib Dems 1992 to 2002; Home Affairs spokesman 1994-99; Treasury Spokesman 1987 to 94; Deputy Leader Liberal Party 1985 to 88; House of Commons Commission 1975 to 1997.

Interests: Historic buildings, boats, music and walking

Memberships: Chair of Constitutional Affairs Committee, member of Intelligence and Security Committee, member of the National Association of Local Councils, Trustee of the Historic Chapels Trust.




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Date of Birth

20 April 1943



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