Delighted to be friend and follower of the inspirational Sir Terence Higgins

Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for West Worthing
Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for West Worthing

Terence Higgins is about 16 years senior to me. He became Lord Higgins when the Worthing constituency he served well for 32 years was shared between Worthing West and Tim Loughton MP’s East Worthing and Shoreham.

The words ‘Sir Terence’ inspired respect and admiration at Westminster when he was in the Commons.

As Lord Higgins he has given 21 years of respected contributions in the House of Lords.

His valedictory speech is anticipated this Thursday. He will have given 53 years to public service.

Dame Rosalyn and he merit panels on Worthing’s Pier. She presided over the International Court in The Hague.

Virginia and I watched one day as her colleagues and she considered the median between Iran and Oman in the Strait of Hormuz between the Persian Gulf and the wide oceans.

He said that his parliamentary role needed two MPs to follow him. This jest had some truth. He was a better economist than me, a far better athlete and his judgments will stand the test of time.

Just about our only difference has been about the A27, though I agree there should be Japanese style warnings about the delays ahead on congested roads.

He would describe himself as sensible right-wing on industrial and economic policy, liberal on international affairs – and I add that he was selfless in his support for me when I came to be the centrist Conservative representing Worthing West, the constituency with the largest local Labour party membership.

|Also in the news - a Worthing woman has urged dog owners to be more aware after her horse suffered ‘life-changing’ injuries in a savage attack; a record number of Christmas hampers will be delivered by Dogs Trust to homeless dog owners in Sussex; and a whole host of MPs are taking part in Christmas Jumper Day for Save the Children, including East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton|

He said that by helping me, a marginal seat could be won or held; if that reduced his majority, the cost was bearable.

He was president of the Cambridge University Union Society before further studies at Yale University.

He was a distinguished economist with the leading international business Unilever, as well as holding other engineering and industrial roles.

Terence was in our Olympic and Commonwealth Games teams bwtween 1948 and 1952.

In addition to being a talented minister, he chaired the Treasury Select Committee and the Public Accounts. One observer rightly described him as ‘respected, independent-minded elder statesman who was not enough of a courtier’ to be fully used by Margaret Thatcher. He should have been in her cabinet.

Locally, he was popular across the spectrum. The only time he faced minority dissent was when hard right activists were after him on capital punishment and democracy in Southern Africa.

I envy the accolade that he was liberal on race and homosexuality; he voted against James Callaghan’s Labour party restrictions on Kenyan Asians.

He worked for Sir Geoffrey Howe on how to overcome the poverty trap for low earning families. He was an early advocate for abolition of the outdated Dock Labour Scheme.

There is hardly an issue during the past half century when he was not involved on the right side.

It has been a delight to have been his friend and his follower for many years.

If ever you hear the odd claim that politicians are in it for themselves, do invite them to consider Terence’s contributions here on the south coast, up at Westminster and across our shared world.

If ever I speak after him, I shall declare that he went beyond the expression that politics is the art of the possible: he is and has been a person who consistently and persistently tries to make possible the things that are right. He is inspirational.

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