THE former Christchurch Liberal Democrat MP Baroness Diana Maddock has died at the age of 75.
Announcing the news, acting party leader Ed Davey said: “Diana helped shape the heart of the Liberal Democrat Party. Her warmth, expertise and leadership will be missed by all who knew her.”
She came to national prominence in 1993 when she captured the previously true blue Conservative Christchurch constituency in a by-election following the death of Robert Adley. The former Southampton city councillor secured 62% of the vote – trouncing her Tory challenger.
She became a popular and much-respected figure in Christchurch but lost out to Chris Chope at the 1997 general election.
During her time as an MP she was the party’s spokesperson on housing, the family and women’s issues.
In 1994 she came out top of the private members bill ballot. She chose the Home Energy Conservation Bill which she successfully piloted through all its parliamentary stages to become the Home Energy Conservation Act 1995.
She became a peer in 1997 and in the Lords she was the party’s housing spokesperson and was a member of the committee on standards in public life. She also served as president of the Liberal Democrats from 1998 to 2000.
She died at her home in Berwick-upon-Tweed following a short illness.
She was married to fellow Liberal Democrat peer Alan Beith, and she is also survived by two daughters from her first marriage.
Mr Davey added: “She served at every level as a councillor, an MP, president of the party, and – for over two decades – as a beloved friend and colleague in the House of Lords.
“Her contribution cannot be overstated.
“Diana championed issues that remain a priority for the party, not least bringing the Energy Conservation Act – which has done so much to improve transparency when it comes to energy efficiency – in her time as an MP.”