This morning, I will be attending a memorial service in Westminster to celebrate the life of Alf Morris. He was a proper gentleman, Wythenshawe’s MP for 33 years, but was perhaps best known as the first Minister for the disabled anywhere in the world.
His passion for campaigning for the disabled, his Labour roots and life long membership of the GMB, came from his upbringing.
Born in Ancoats, one of 8 children, Alf’s dad lost an eye and a leg and was gassed while serving in the First World War, and then suffered a long decline in health and eventual death arising from his injuries. After his father’s death, Alf’s mum was not entitled to a war widow’s pension.
Forty years later, Morris himself put the matter right by changing the law affecting armed forces pensions when he became Minister for the Disabled.
In 1970 he successfully introduced the Chronically Sick & Disabled Persons Act which was the first in the world to recognise and give rights to people with disabilities. In 1991 he introduced a Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill and he also has campaigned of those with Gulf War Syndrome.
In 1997, he was made Lord Morris of Manchester. His brother, Charles, and niece, Estelle, were also Labour MP’s.
My condolences go out to Alf’s family and friends. But today should not be a day of sadness, but a celebration of a life well spent helping improve the lives of other.