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Wednesday, 5 January, 2000, 21:56 GMT
Tory stalwart dies

Sir Bernard Braine Sir Bernard Braine was an MP for 39 years

The former Conservative MP and peer, Sir Bernard Braine, has died at the age of 85.

Lord Braine died in the early hours of Tuesday at Southend Hospital.

He stepped down as an MP at the 1992 general election and took up a seat in the House of Lords.

The former MP became the Father of the House - or longest serving MP - in 1987.

He was first elected for Billericay in 1950, and had represented the South-East Essex area ever since, his last seat being Castle Point.

During his 39 years in the House he held several junior government posts, and was an opposition front-bench spokesman in the late sixties.

He was chairman of the National Council on Alcoholism, and campaigned strongly against relaxation of the abortion laws and pornography.

He also fought against oil, chemical and liquid gas installations on Canvey Island, in his constituency, and once spoke for more than three hours in the Commons to make his point.

Socialist father

Bernard Richard Braine did not have a typical Tory background: his father, who died when he was 12, was a Fabian Socialist.

Bernard was to become a right-wing Conservative. He was born in Ealing, went to Hendon grammar school, and served in the Army during the war, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

In Parliament he was a junior minister at Pensions, Commonwealth Relations and Health.

The Commonwealth and overseas aid were two of his main interests, and he had been chairman of the Select Committee on overseas aid.

He also led parliamentary missions to several countries, most recently to Poland and Australia.

He had been chairman of the all-party committee on drug abuse and vice-chairman of the parliamentary human rights group and pro-life group.

Bernard Braine backed the Suez operation, opposed sanctions against Rhodesia, and in 1965 supported Enoch Powell for the Conservative Party leadership.

He opposed changes in the Sunday trading laws, and in November 1987 was the only Tory to oppose liberalisation of the licensing laws.

He was knighted in 1972. His wife died in 1982 after 47 years of marriage. They had three sons.

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