Page last updated at 15:03 GMT, Friday, 9 December 2011
Speaker's lectures: Centenary of the Parliament Act

Full coverage of the Speaker's lecture series about key political figures of the 100 years since the Parliament Act was passed:

Tristram Hunt on Tony Benn
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Tristram Hunt on Tony Benn

The historian turned Labour MP Tristram Hunt described former Labour MP as a "reluctant peer and persistent commoner".

Tony Benn's campaign to renounce his peerage led to a change in the law, allowing him to later enter the Labour government of Harold Wilson as an MP.

Mr Hunt noted Tony Benn's renowned diary-keeping, describing it as "a moral responsibility to give an account of his life".

John Whittingdale on Baroness Thatcher

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John Whittingdale on Baroness Thatcher

The former political secretary to Baroness Thatcher, John Whittingdale, gave an account of the atmosphere in Downing Street at the time of her resignation.

He revealed how she had "briefly" considered continuing as prime minister without being leader of the Conservative Party, feeling that it was "improper" that she had been forced to leave office in that way.

Mr Whittingdale, now the Conservative MP for Maldon, was political secretary to Lady Thatcher at the time of her resignation from 10 Downing Street.

He stressed the influence of her father on her personal and political development, including "his sense of duty and his devotion to family and civic duty, and the importance of standing by one's convictions".

Baroness Thatcher was prime minister between 1979 and 1990, standing down from the House of Commons in 1992.

Lord Adonis on Roy Jenkins

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Lord Adonis on Roy Jenkins

Lord Adonis, an advisor to Tony Blair and minister under Gordon Brown, describes the career of SDP founder and former Labour Home Secretary and Chancellor Roy Jenkins.

The most powerful part of the late Lord Jenkins' legacy, argues Lord Adonis, is not his body of work as a writer, although he was, apart from Winston Churchill, "the most prolific and successful author to hold high office in the 20th century" and his books are still widely read.

Rather, it was in government that Lord Jenkins' energy and talents would have most impact.

"As home secretary in the 1960s, he was the model of a transformational minister," Lord Adonis argued, citing his ability "to mobilise middle as well as radical opinion".

In his first stint as home secretary, which lasted just one year and 11 months, he oversaw the decriminalisation of abortion and homosexuality, the liberalisation of divorce laws and theatre censorship, the banning of racial discrimination and flogging in prisons, and the introduction of majority verdicts in criminal trials.

"He and his allies changed the face of society," Lord Adonis concludes.

Lord Hurd on Iain Macleod
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Lord Hurd on Iain Macleod

Former cabinet minister in the Thatcher government - and one time political secretary to Ted Heath - Lord Hurd said the death of Iain Macleod at the age of 56 shortly after becoming chancellor in 1970 robbed the Conservative government of a "remarkable man of great ability".

Lord Hurd said that Iain Macleod was a talented enough bridge player to have made a decent living out of his winnings and had succeeded in politics despite suffering physical pain as a result of injuries sustained during the Second World War.

He was a great communicator with a sharp mind who built up early ministerial experience in the late 50s and early 60s Conservative government, including as a colonial secretary who believed in the "brotherhood of man", Lord Hurd said.

He fell out with many in the leadership of the party after the election of Alec Douglas-Home, but his sharp mind and turn of phrase, his spell as editor of The Spectator and his passionate One Nation Conservatism mean he remains an influential figures four decades after his death.

Lord Hurd said that Iain Macleod's death had left people asking the question "what if"?

Would his survival have altered the fortunes of the Heath government?