David Taylor MP
January 09, 2010
The tragic news of the sudden death of David Taylor MP for North West Leicestershire is a great shock. My condolences to his wife and family. He collapsed on a Boxing Bay walk with his family.
He showed no signs of illness in the meal that I, and half a dozen of his closest friends, had with him on the last day of the parliamentary session a fortnight ago. He was in good spirits and, as always, he had asked sharp questions in the Commons Chamber on Monday and Tuesday afternoons (See below).
In my forthcoming book, I have an item on Parliamentary Icons and Knaves. David was one of the most accomplished parliamentary icons and a great friend.
David described himself as a traditional mushy-peas rather than an avocado Labourite.
A David Taylor vote is the only way of registering an abstention. There are issues where the advantages and disadvantages are evenly balanced. In these situations David voted in both the No and the Aye lobbies. It can be difficult to explain to voters but it makes good sense, until Parliament come up with another way to register an abstention.
He scored highly in the value for money league table of those who MPs work the hardest for the lowest unit cost. He came equal 7th out of 592. He spent 154,277 in 2007/8 (75% of which on staff and office) during which time he had an attendance rate in the House of 87%, spoke in 225 debates and tabled 197 written questions.
David Taylor was tireless, ever present in the chamber with a gift for words and an indefatigable campaigner. He was splendidly independent. He fearlessly flaunted alliteration, 'Will you say what protections, for instance, the Manchester City supporters have against the attentions of the unsavoury Thaksin Shinawatra or is it forever the fate of football fans to be fleeced by
flaky foreign financiers?
David used his impressive accountancy skills to create a practical alternative to the shaming 10p tax cock-up. He was the MPs' MP. In 2007 he won the award of the Backbencher of the Year. He was an undiscovered Commons polymath and a unique parliamentary treasure.
Parliament is bereaved.
David was parliament's most prolific and skilled questioner. The oral questions he asked in what was his final three days of parliament illustrate his command of his craft and his breadth of interests.
David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): Last month, a black rock band from Brixton who were playing at The Oak public house in Burntwood, Staffordshire, were wrongfully arrested after their gig-vehicles, dogs and a helicopter were used-because of a false alarm with good intent. The chief constable of Staffordshire rightly withdrew their DNA samples because no offence had been committed. Is the Minister happy with the Association of Chief Police Officers' guidelines, and is he confident that other police officers in other circumstances would be able to respond as rapidly and rightly as the chief constable did in that case?
David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): The number of procedures under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 continues to rise, with 4 million sentient beings the target that we see each year. Is the Home Secretary happy with the effectiveness of the legislation? The policy of reduction, refinement and replacement is clearly not working. What alternatives might there be?
David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): Earlier this year, the Chancellor was thinking aloud about the potential of an independent macro-prudential early warning system linking the Bank of England to European central banks, and a single micro-prudential rule-making body. Can the Minister say what the state of play is in terms of those developments?
David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): Despite the cheaper pound and rising house prices, stalled industrial output is still holding the economy back. Will the Chancellor tell the House what progress has been made on his plan to diversify the economy away from the financial services sector?
David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): The counties of Rutland and Leicestershire will be alarmed at the proposed closure of RAF Cottesmore, which is, inter alia, a significant contributor to the local economy. Will the Secretary of State, as a well-regarded trade unionist in a former life, indicate to the House what plans he has to consult the local work force and, indeed, the wider local community about the impact of this suggested closure?
David Taylor: I thank my right hon. Friend, as I shall call him, for giving way. He has been an excellent Chair of the EFRA Committee. Like him, I am standing down at the election and the last few years on his Committee have been very rewarding indeed. Does he recall the visit that the Committee paid to Lyons to look at the integrated approach taken there to flood prevention and management? Is he concerned that one possible flaw in this welcome Bill is that the local authorities that will take on a great deal of the local responsibility for these matters will have inadequate resources, skills or knowledge to be able to do so effectively?
David Taylor (North-West Leicestershire) (Lab/Co-op): I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this debate. Many newspapers, having seen the disillusion, distaste and disgust with MPs among the wider electorate, have suggested a substantial trimming in the number of Members. There may be something in that, but it can be done only in parallel with a substantial extension and improvement of services such as citizens advice and community law services, as they will be needed to pick up the casework. Four hundred Members simply could not handle the work load that we are experiencing now. We have to find some way to satisfactorily transfer that work.
David Taylor: While I welcome the new "Safer Ageing" strategy, is it not the case that the recent spate of burglaries and attacks on older people in Northern Ireland has had a devastating impact on the individuals affected, and will it not in turn have created a deeper fear of crime across the older population? What practical measures are there in the new plan to reduce that corrosive level of fear.David Taylor (North West Leicestershire, Labour)I am listening very carefully to what the Minister has to say. Does he agree that the bigger polyclinics that are envisaged-where a patient may go and, in a sense, be allocated at random a doctor from a very large panel-will make it very difficult indeed to build a relationship of the type that has been the foundation of our health service since 1948, which is that between a patient and a family doctor?
David Taylor (conclusion of speech on GP Practices) By 2018, when the NHS reaches its biblical span of three score years and 10, we shall have seen GPs metamorphose from the avuncular community leaders of "Dr. Finlay's Casebook" to profit-generating assets in a Dr. Foster's cost centre. The NHS was not created to serve a minority who shout loud enough to see a doctor whenever they want, wherever they are. This proposal is designed to satisfy the few, not the many. To abolish practice boundaries is to hasten the demise of the family doctor.
FUNERAL OF DAVID TAYLOR
'Don't travel unless you have to,' was the advice. I had to. Today was David Taylor's funeral in deepest Leicestershire.
Other advice beforehand discouraged attendance. The church is very small.
We were told that most mourners would have to stand in the back of the church or outside. Standing outside in today's arctic conditions was not an enticing invitation. At 7.30 am I questioned whether I was doing the sensible thing to drive for more than two hours into a rural destination. Probably not, but David was a close friend.
The motorway journey was fine. But it was no fun driving through a heavy snow storm for the final ten miles. Starting early meant I had a seat in the church. An extraordinary turnout of MPs saw at least 50 standing in the church or in the deep snow in the churchyard. The streets around St John's Church in the village of Heather (pronounced hee-ther) were lined with David's constituents who applauded his coffin as it passed.
The choice of the photograph of David on the Order of Service was artless and endearing. Nothing was airbrushed in the current fashion on Cameron's poster. This is David, as he was. Generally indifferent to the way he looked. Having bracers on show was of no importance when a penetrating question had to be crafted. He had no side.
David and his family have lived in Heather for most of their lives in a house a few yards from the church. He was a faithful member of the St John's congregation.
He said that another childhood friend David Wragg had a deal in school with David Taylor. Wragg would put him in the cricket team if David Taylor would allow him to copy his home work. In politics, Cannon Jennings said, David was the left by instinct not for partizan reasons. His vision was of a just and more equal society.
The congregation standing in the driving snow in the churchyard and in the streets beyond applauded Canon Jennings' tribute. Finally he recalled the comment from a Whoopee Goldberg film. 'You are never dead until you are forgotten.' David was laid to rest in the churchyard in a private family ceremony.
Over two hundred people from the villages of Heather and Westminster
attended the reception afterwards. The attendance of so many, who had driven hundreds of miles in atrocious conditions, was proof of the high esteem in which David was held. I had a chat with Speaker John Bercow about his innovation in paying a Commons Chamber tribute to David, mentioned in yesterday's blog. He said he thought the tradition of a bald announcement was very 'cold.' In future parliament will join all other workplaces in freely paying respects when a well-respected colleague dies.
A former worker in David's office told me he is keen to contribute some words about David's skills as a parliamentary inquisitor. I hope to pursue the idea of a biography. David was a parliamentary aristocrat to his fellow MPs. But almost unknown elsewhere. A biography would put that right. The hundreds of new MPs who will be elected in May 2010 need a model to emulate. David is the best.
The Leicester Mercury report Canon David Jennings:
"David was an important, respected member of the community and would still wind the church clock regularly to keep it running.
"How many MPs do you know who would do that - it's indicative of the kind of man he was."
Staff at the North West Leicestershire constituency office, in Coalville, where Mr Taylor worked, have left messages on his website.
Communications manager Phil Ellis said: "David's staff are all devastated – he was so much more than just an employer. A lot of tears have been shed since we got the sad news.
"We know just what an enormous workload he undertook and the anti-social hours he put in. "Although he was standing down, he certainly wasn't winding down and didn't want to say no to anyone – there was always another problem to solve, a campaign to fight or an event to attend. North West Leicestershire is a poorer place for his passing.