Lord Steel to be awarded honorary degree

Sunday 15 June 2003

The University of St Andrews is to award distinguished politician and former Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, Lord David Steel, an honorary degree.

Lord Steel will be made a Doctor of Laws (LLD) at this year’s summer Graduations (Thursday 26th June 2003).

Announcing the honour, the University’s Principal and Vice- Chancellor, Dr Brian Lang, said:

“We are delighted to have this opportunity to honour Lord Steel’s contribution to public life. He has been a distinguished politician and his distinctive presence made him a most appropriate first Presiding Officer of the new Scottish Parliament.”

Lord Steel was born in 1938 in Fife, and was educated in Scotland and Kenya (where his father was Minister of the Church of Scotland), and latterly at George Watson’s College Edinburgh. He graduated with an M.A. (1960) and LL.B. (1962) from Edinburgh University, where he was president of the University Liberal Club and senior president of the Students’ Representative Council.

He worked for the Scottish Liberal Party and for BBC Scotland before winning the Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles by-election from the Conservatives in March 1965, bringing the tally of Liberal M.Ps to double figures, and becoming the youngest M.P. in that parliament. After the 1966 general election he steered the private member’s Bill reforming the law on abortion through parliament. He was President of the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the late 1970s and founding chairman in Scotland of Shelter, the charity for the homeless.

In 1970 he became Liberal Whip, party leader in 1976 and in 1977 he became a Privy Counsellor. He played a major part in the European Referendum. During the late 1970s he took the party into the Lib-Lab pact which sustained the Labour Government under James Callaghan. After the formation of the SDP he worked to secure the Alliance between that party and the Liberal Party which developed as the Liberal Democrats.

He stepped down as party leader in 1988 and focused on two main areas of interest; foreign affairs and constitutional reform. He was president of Liberal International from 1992-94 and co-chairman of the Scottish Constitutional Convention, which drew up the blueprint from which the Labour Government framed the Scotland Act of 1998. Lord Steel was knighted in 1990.

On 12th May 1999 he was elected as Presiding Officer of the first Scottish Parliament for almost 300 years. He was also the High Commissioner during this year’s General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. In May this year (2003), he stepped down as Presiding Officer, though will continue to sit in the House of Lords on the Liberal bench.

Lord Steel has written several books including ‘No Entry’, ‘A House Divided’ and ‘Against Goliath’, and (with his wife, Judy Steel) ‘Border Country’ and ‘Mary Stuart’s Scotland’, and regularly broadcasts and writes for newspapers and periodicals. His main interests are fishing and vintage cars and he is an experienced international classic car rallyist.

Lord Steel will be awarded his honorary degree at the afternoon graduation ceremony on Thursday 26th June 2003 in Younger Hall, North Street, St Andrews.



Further information re. media access to the ceremony will be released later in the week.

Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook on 01334 467227, mobile 07900 050103, or email [email protected] Ref: hon2003 D Steel View the latest University news at http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk

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