Obituary: Lord Michael Shaw, long-serving Yorkshire MP

Lord Michael ShawLord Michael Shaw
Lord Michael Shaw
Michael Shaw, who has died at 100, was a popular, long serving Conservative Member of Parliament, representing initially the highly marginal seat of Brighouse and Spenborough from 1960 to 1964 and then Scarborough from 1966 until his retirement in 1992.

He was very much of the old school: the loyal backbencher “knight of the shires” always immaculately turned out and one of the last regular wearers of a bowler hat. He served as Parliamentary Private Secretary first for John Hare as Minister of Labour and later for John Davies, successively the Minster of Technology, Trade Secretary and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Michael Shaw was born in Leeds, attended Sedbergh School and then studied accountancy, qualifying in 1945 and advancing to Fellow Chartered Accountant in 1952 and becoming a partner in the family firm of WH Shaw.

He was appointed a magistrate for the West Riding in 1953.

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He was already active in the Conservative Party and became briefly the Chairman of the Yorkshire Area Young Conservatives in 1950. His first election contest was in Dewsbury in 1955. The poll was called at short notice and his hurried adoption meeting coincided with the birth of his first son, John.

He lost that election to Labour by over 7,000 votes and switched to the next door constituency of Brighouse and Spenborough which he lost in 1959 by just 59 votes. Shortly afterwards the newly re-elected Labour MP John Edwards died from a heart attack and at the by-election, just six months after the general election, Michael was narrowly elected with a majority of 666 votes. He lost at the 1964 general election, again narrowly, and he then took the opportunity of Sir Alexander Spearman retiring from his Scarborough and Whitby seat after 25 years in parliament to secure the nomination as his successor. He was comfortably elected in 1966 and held the seat for 26 years. In parliament he served on the Select Committees on Members’ Salaries and Members’ Interests. He was knighted in 1982.

In 1974 he was selected by the Conservative Party to be one of the appointed members of the European Parliament, serving until the first direct election in 1979. His loyalty to the party was demonstrated two years after retiring from the Commons when, despite having said that he was looking forward to spending time with his family, he responded to John Major’s request to go to the House of Lords and was created Baron Shaw of Northstead in September 1994 – resuming his regular journeys to Westminster.

He and Joan (née Mowat), whom he married in 1951, lived with their family in the 18th century manor house Duxbury Hall near Liversedge, until retirement from the Lords in 2015 took them to more amenable accommodation in Winchester.

Joan survives him, along with three sons and five grandchildren.

Michael Meadowcroft

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