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Monday, 26 March, 2001, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Former chief whip dies
House of Lords
Lords Cocks had been a peer since 1987
The Labour peer Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe has died after a heart attack at the age of 71.

Michael Cocks was Labour chief whip in the 1970s and was an important member of James Callaghan's government.

Lord Cocks
Lord Cocks died on Monday
In opposition, he became known as a scourge of Labour's so-called "loony left" and used to express his concern at what he described as his party's preoccupation with "gays and lesbians".

Tributes were paid to him in the House of Lords on Monday.

The leader of the house, Lady Jay of Paddington, spoke of Lord Cocks' distinguished political career.

The Conservative leader in the upper chamber, Lord Strathclyde, echoed those thoughts.

"From our point of view - and I suspect I speak for the whole House - he will be very much missed," he said.

I suspect I speak for the whole House - he will be very much missed

Lord Strathclyde
Lords Cocks was a former BBC governor and in recent years became an outspoken member of the upper chamber.

He served as assistant government chief whip from 1974 to 1976 when he was promoted to chief whip, a post he held until Labour lost power in 1979.

He was opposition chief whip from 1979 until 1985, when he returned to the backbenches.

Life peerage

Lord Cocks was educated at Bristol University and held a number of academic posts before being elected to the Commons for Bristol South in 1987.

He received a life peerage in 1987. In the Lords, he served as a deputy speaker and a deputy chairman of committees.

'Free thinker'

Liberal Democrat deputy leader in the Lords and former Labour MP Lady Williams of Crosby described Lord Cocks as a "monument of freedom of expression".

Lady Williams said: "He never spoke in this House without deeply believing what he said. He was never concerned to be in fashion. He was never concerned simply to repeat conventional opinions."

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Chief whip (government)
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