Lord Jock Stallard: a life lived for others

 The life of Lord Jock Stallard was celebrated at Our Lady of Hal Catholic Church in Camden Town, north London yesterday. Members of the House of Lords, MPs, representatives from local government, the Simon Community, friends and family crowded into the church for the Requiem Mass of the Catholic peer, who died, aged 86, on 29 March. In his opening comments, parish priest Fr Dominic McKenna praised Lord Jock's passionate commitment to social justice, his kindness, humility and sense of humour. During his homily, Fr Dominic said: "This was a man whose faith resonated in everything he did. The Eucharist was a motivating force for him. That is why the Beatitudes which we have just heard are so apt. He always stuck to his principles. When things went wrong he took it on the chin and kept going. He wasn't a crowd-pleaser but he had great compassion and devoted his life to serving others." Lord Tony Clark gave the first reading. Lord Ted Graham, Roger Robinson read tributes at the end of the Mass. Lord Graham said: " He was a lovely man who will be missed by many." Linda read a poem on behalf of Brenda and Richard. Born in Hamilton in Scotland, in 1921. Lord Jock was educated at Hamilton Academy. When his family moved to London in 1937 he got a job as an engineer which he held until 1965. He married Sheila Murphy in 1944. During this time he became a shop steward for the engineers' union the AUEW. He was elected councillor for St Pancras in 1953, serving until 1959. In 1962 he became council leader. Charged with administering the new Rent Act he showed his disapproval of its impact on council tenants by flying the red flag from the town hall - after which he was expelled from the Labour Party for three years. Leaving St Pancras in 1965, Stallard moved to the neighbouring ward of Camden, where he served as a councillor and then an alderman. He became MP for St Pancras North at the general election of 1970. Stallard made a name for himself challenging the disgraceful living conditions of many ordinary people in London. He was fearless in his pursuit of rent racketeers who were viciously controlling housing in some of London's poorest areas. In 1974 Stallard was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. After that year's second election, he moved to assist the Minister for Housing and Construction. Stallard was promoted to government whip in 1978. In January 1979 he resigned from this post, taking a stand against a Bill proposing that Northern Ireland be given more seats in Parliament. His concern was that it would worsen relations between Catholics and Protestants in Ulster. During his time as MP he also took a strong stand against nuclear weapons and the Falklands War. At the 1983 election, the constituencies of St Pancras and Camden Town were amalgamated into a single ward and Stallard lost out to his Camden Town counterpart, Frank Dobson. That year Stallard entered the House of Lords, where he began to speak out as a Catholic on moral issues such as embryo research, and Family Law Bill which would make divorce easier, rather than promote reconciliation. In 2000 he was one of 15 Labour peers who rebelled against the government's attempt to lift the ban on local authorities promoting homosexuality. (Section 28). He attended the House of Lords every day until the death of his wife in 2004. Lord Jock loved music, especially jazz and was a self-taught pianist. He performed at sing-songs in several Camden pubs. Lord Jock is survived by two children, Brenda and Richard, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

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