When I joined him as a North London MP in 1983 he had already been in The House of Commons for 17 years and went on to serve for a total of 26 years. He was a kindly and deeply caring man who befriended us new boys, showed us the ropes and set us an example of serving our constituents. He freely shared his knowledge and experience with us all and helped us all to be effective in Parliament.
He was a Minister under both Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher, serving as Environment Minister, a Northern Ireland Minister and then Minister for Social Services and Disability. He was a practicing lawyer. He and his wife Philomena had a son and four daughters.
His constituency of Hornsey, and from 1983, Hornsey and Wood Green, was deeply Cypriot. Geographically it included Green Lanes and the very many Cypriot businesses in the area. Perhaps because he too was a son of an immigrant, an Italian, he understood the hopes and needs of the Cypriot community in London.
However, nothing could have prepared him, or any of us, for the horrors of the Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus. He was an Opposition spokesman at the time and was critical of Labour Governments failure to meet their obligations to Cyprus as a Guarantor Power. Fortunately he was a clear voice for Cyprus on the ad hoc Select Committee that set the record straight in their two Special Reports in 1975 and 1976. He never gave up on the hope for a just solution for both Communities, nor was he an uncritical friend; he was incisive in his comments and encouraging of all MPs to see the injustice of the occupation and divisions within Cyprus.
I am sure I am not alone in being personally grateful to him for his friendship and guidance, or for his steadfast support for Cyprus.
Dr Ian Twinn CBE
Conservative Friends for Cyprus
17 April 2017