Frank Field: Former Labour minister and crossbench peer dies aged 81

Frank Field: Former Labour minister and crossbench peer dies aged 81

Former Labour minister and crossbench peer Frank Field has died at the age of 81, his family has announced.

Lord Field of Birkenhead died in a London care home on Tuesday night following a "long battle with cancer", and is survived by two brothers.

He revealed he was terminally ill in October 2021 and had spent time in a hospice when a statement from him was read out in the House of Lords calling for laws on assisted dying to be relaxed.

A statement from Lord Field's family, issued by his Parliamentary office and posted on X, formerly Twitter, said: "Through a long battle with cancer, Frank Field remained resilient and engaged with life until the end.

"He will be enormously missed by his family and wide circle of friends.

"Frank was an extraordinary individual who spent his life fighting poverty, injustice and environmental destruction. His decency and faith in people's self-interested altruism made a unique contribution to British politics.

"After 40 years of dedicated public service, Frank will be mourned by admirers across the political divide. But above all, he will be deeply missed by those lucky enough to have enjoyed his laughter and friendship."

Tributes from the veteran politician's colleagues have poured in on X.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: "Rest in peace, Frank Field. A great parliamentarian, crusader for social justice and source of wise counsel.

"What a blessing to have known him and benefited from his advice and kindness, even as his illness gripped him. Deepest condolences to all who knew and loved him."

Former home secretary Dame Priti Patel said he had an "unwavering moral compass".

"My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Frank Field," she said. "Frank was a kind and compassionate man and a great Parliamentarian.

"His unwavering moral compass, commitment to working cross-party and unshakable principles defined him and will be greatly missed."

Veteran Labour MP Harriet Harman said: "At Frank's core was the conviction that poverty was never to be accepted and could be ended. Clever, persistent and caring, he held that argument high across decades RIP"

And Labour former minister Dame Angela Eagle said: "Very sad news. Always supportive of me as his Parliamentary neighbour, brimming with ideas to make society better - a great champion of his Birkenhead constituents: RIP Frank"

Lord Field took his seat in the upper chamber in October 2020 after being elected 10 times to represent Birkenhead between 1979 and 2019.

He served as welfare reform minister in Tony Blair's first government in 1997 and went on to chair the Work and Pensions Select Committee.

He later resigned the Labour whip over antisemitism and "nastiness" in the party under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.

Last February, the peer was cheered as he made his first appearance in the House of Lords for almost two years, arriving in the chamber in a wheelchair to pledge allegiance to the King.

He had told the Observer of his determination to take the oath to the King - something all peers are obliged to do after the death of a monarch.

The politician was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour in the 2022 New Year Honours, describing it at the time as a "terrific privilege".

The acknowledgement of Lord Field's public and political service followed a career in which he showed support for causes including pensions reform, ending child poverty and stamping out modern slavery.

He served on the boards of the charities Cool Earth and Feeding Britain, as well as the Frank Field Education Trust.