Former Labour minister and crossbench peer Frank Field dies, aged 81

Frank Field was the MP for Birkenhead between 1979 and 2019. Credit: PA Images

Former Labour minister and crossbench peer Frank Field has died aged 81, his family has announced.

Lord Field of Birkenhead died in a London care home on Tuesday night, 23 April, following a period of illness, and is survived by two brothers.

He revealed he was terminally ill in October 2021 and had spent time in a hospice when a statement from him was read out in the House of Lords calling for laws on assisted dying to be relaxed.

Frank Field pictured in 2018. Credit: PA Images

A statement from Lord Field of Birkenhead’s family, issued by his Parliamentary office, said: “Frank Field (Rt Hon Lord Field of Birkenhead, CH) has died at the age of 81 following a period of illness.

“Frank was director of the Child Poverty Action Group between 1969 and 1979, and the Member of Parliament for Birkenhead between 1979 and 2019.

“During that time, he served as a Minister for Welfare Reform and led the Independent Review on Poverty and Life Chances. He also chaired the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee (and its predecessor Committee on Social Services and Social Security) as well as the Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill.

“In 2020, Frank entered the House of Lords as the Rt Hon the Lord Field of Birkenhead, was appointed Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) in the 2022 New Year Honours and continued to serve on the boards of Cool Earth, Feeding Britain and the Frank Field Education Trust.

“He will be mourned by admirers across politics but above all he will be greatly missed by those lucky enough to have enjoyed his laughter and friendship.”

Frank Field “dedicated his life to being a voice for the most vulnerable”, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said in a tribute to the veteran politician.

He said: “The death of Lord Frank Field is a profound loss to politics and to our nation.

“Frank dedicated his life to being a voice for the most vulnerable and marginalised people in the country.

“Frank was principled, courageous, and independent-minded. He cared about the people he served, thought deeply about the issues he championed, and worked entirely for the good of the people of Birkenhead as their MP for 40 years. His honour and integrity were well known and admired.

“On behalf of the Labour Party, my thoughts are with his family.”

The Speaker of the House of Commons and Chorley MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle also paid tribute to Lord Field.

In a statement he said:

"As a former colleague, I watched in admiration as Frank Field navigated a career as a formidable MP, and as a minister, tasked with ‘thinking the unthinkable’ on social care.

"He was neither cowed by the establishment or whips - which made his campaigns against hunger and food poverty, for climate change and for the church, even more effective.

"He was the driving force behind Parliament’s commitment to prevent slavery and human trafficking within our supply chains. Having worked with him on the modern slavery advisory group, and made him its chair, I was in no doubt of his commitment to save many lives nationwide from this shameful criminal activity.

"Suffice to say, he was one of a kind and he will be sorely missed."

Labour former minister Dame Angela Eagle paid tribute to Lord Field on X, formerly Twitter, saying: "Very sad news. Always supportive of me as his Parliamentary neighbour, brimming with ideas to make society better – a great champion of his Birkenhead constituents: RIP Frank."