Lord Blunkett pays tribute to 'maverick' former Birkenhead MP, Frank Field, who's died aged 81

Lord David Blunkett has paid tribute to the former Labour minister and crossbench peer Frank Field, following the announcement of his death at the age of 81.

Lord Blunkett said he would remember the veteran MP from Birkenhead with "great affection" and described him as "something of a maverick".

"The grit in the oyster of someone who raised issues and argued cases that others didn't want to hear", he added.

Frank Field speaking in the House of Commons Credit: PA

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

Mr Blunkett said he first came to know the former North West MP after Labour was elected to Government in 1997.

"He was attending Cabinet in 1997 when we were first elected, way back then.

"I got to know him well afterwards.

"Here was a man who could have a disagreement with you and still be your friend, still have a meal with you, still be the person you wanted to be with and I think in politics, we're missing people like Frank Field and we need more of them."

He wasn't just respected for his dedication and commitment to his constituency - said Lord Blunkett - "but for his tenacity in terms of the things he believed in, which was about getting the early years right for children.

"It was about getting people into work and breaking down the welfare trap, it was about developing a programme so that we could draw down the unclaimed assets from financial institutions.

"Hundreds of millions of pounds a year to invest in youth projects and much more."

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.”

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