Tributes have been paid to former miner, councillor and West Yorkshire MP Lord Lofthouse, who died yesterday aged 86 following a short illness.
Geoffrey Lofthouse served as MP for Pontefract and Castleford from 1978 until 1997, when he was given a life peerage as Baron Lofthouse of Pontefract.
Before embarking on a political career he worked as a miner at Ackton Hall Colliery in Featherstone and became president of the local branch of the National Union of Mineworkers at 29.
Attending Leeds University in 1957, he graduated with a BA in political studies, and in 1962 became a member of Pontefract Borough Council.
He was appointed Mayor of Pontefract in 1967 and leader of the council from 1969 to 1973 and was served on Wakefield Council. He had one daughter with his late wife, Sarah.
Lord Lofthouse won a by-election in 1978 to become MP for Pontefract and Castleford. In 1992 and until his retirement he served as Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. He also became Deputy Speaker in the House of Lords.
Yvette Cooper, who succeeded him as Pontefract and Castleford MP, said: “He was a dear friend, always wise, thoughtful, and compassionate but also determined in the fight against injustice and unswerving in his loyal service for people of this area.
“Geoff’s fight to get compensation for miners with emphysema and other illnesses was a powerful campaign for justice and has helped thousands of families across the coalfields.”
Coun Peter Box, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: “Geoff was a highly-respected politician, dedicated to the people he served. He was a tireless worker on behalf of those he represented and he never lost touch with his roots.”
Rugby Football League chief executive Nigel Wood added: “Lord Lofthouse championed the sport in Westminster all through his political life.”
A full obituary will appear in tomorrow’s Yorkshire Post.