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Tuesday, 22 October, 2002, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
Tam Dalyell
Tam Dalyell

Date of birth

9 August 1932

Political profile

With the retirement of Ted Heath in 2001, Tam Dalyell became Father of the House of Commons, having served as an MP continuously since 1962.

In that time, he has served just two years as a frontbencher, and has instead assiduously carved out a niche as a thorn in the side of successive governments of every hue.

Mr Dalyell is famed for his ability to focus on an issue and pursue it obsessively through the Commons, literally for years, making fine use of parliamentary procedures to harass or embarrass ministers into submission.

Like his fellow Old Etonian Labour MP Mark Fisher, Mr Dalyell is on the left of the party, and has been one of the Commons' leading critics of military conflicts, having been opposed to both the Falklands conflict and the Gulf War.

Since 1983, he has condemned Baroness Thatcher at every opportunity for her decision to sink Argentinian ship the General Belgrano, an act he regards as illegal.

He also campaigns for the lifting of sanctions on Iraq and Libya.

The Linlithgow MP was opposed to Scottish and Welsh devolution, and when representing the area famously posed the 'West Lothian Question', asking why Scottish post-devolution MPs should be allowed to vote on Westminster matters when English MPs could not vote on West Lothian issues.

Mr Dalyell's career at Westminster will come to an end at the next general election as he has decided to stand down from the Commons.

Contact

Commons office: 020 7219 4343
Constituency office: 01506 834255

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