Disabled rights pioneer Lord Morris of Manchester dies


A look back at the life of Lord Morris

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Disability rights pioneer and Labour peer Lord Morris of Manchester has died at the age of 84.

As Alf Morris, he was MP for Manchester Wythenshawe from 1964 to 1997 and became the UK's first minister for the disabled in 1974.

His work led to the first disability rights legislation, 1970's Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said he was deeply saddened and described the peer as "a Labour man through and through."

Lord Morris's act, which sought to give people with disabilities equal opportunities in society, faced opposition from within his own party and was almost scuppered when the 1970 general election was called by Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

However, it survived in the short "wash-up" period before the election and became law, the first of its kind in the world.

It set down specific provisions to improve access and support for people with disabilities.

'Transformed lives'

Lord Morris went on to become the UK's first Minister for Disabled People in 1974, introducing benefits for disabled people and their carers, including a mobility allowance.

He was made a life peer in 1997.

Mr Miliband said Lord Morris was a pioneering campaigner for vulnerable people, adding: "As a member, activist, MP and peer, he always stood up for Labour's values and devoted his career to improving the lives of the less fortunate in Britain's society."

Baroness Royall, Labour leader in the Lords, said: "With his Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act - the very first act to give rights to people with disabilities - he transformed the lives of millions and millions of people throughout the world.

"He championed the rights of disabled people, including injured service personnel, throughout his life and was deeply committed to public service."

Lord Morris died in hospital on Sunday after a short illness. He is survived by his wife, Irene, two sons and two daughters.

'Good old-fashioned socialist'

Tony Lloyd, MP for Manchester Central and a close friend of Lord Morris, said the city had "lost a great son".

"I've lost a friend [and] disabled people have lost a champion," he said.

"The things he did for Manchester and the things he did for disabled people up and down the country is not simply on the record, it's lived out day to day by people whose lives have been made better because of Alf's career.

"Alf had grown up in Newton Heath in a tough world and he'd seen what poverty did. I think Alf was totally sympathetic to the plight of people who needed the rest of us to give them a bit of even break in society and I think that's what drove him."

He added Lord Morris had been "a good old-fashioned Labour socialist [and] someone who believed in the social and justice agenda and wanted to make sure that was available to everybody".


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  • Comment number 116.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 115.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    Re 102
    Cameron did not look "grasping and self satisfied " as he lived through the illness and early death of his disabled son, so in the context of this particular story your vituperative remarks are somewhat tasteless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    R.I.P. Lord Alf Morris, respect to you always a TRUE gentleman!

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    RIP Alf Morris taking on from where Nye Bevan left. Unfortunately we have to accept the vitriolic members of our society, but at least we can sleep easy in the knowledge that it is those right wingers who would be the first to complain about poor services if they had the misfortune to contract a disability.They're so self centred that they don't know how lucky they are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    109 Nemesis
    I haven't met any of these state dependent slobs (strange as there are meant to be so many of them that they are causing the deficit). I have met disabled people who are having their lifestyles restricted by IDS and co. This is setting up an atypical stereotype to shoot it down, an extremely dishonourable thing to do when deserving people get hurt
    Now irresponsible bankers......

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    So much more respect for people that show pedigree, experience, and quiet conviction like Alf Morris. Jack Ashley was another.
    As opposed to the champagne socialists with their Oxbridge PPE degrees who went straight into politics and have no other life experience but like to tell us what's good for us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.


    Alf Morris was no fool ! and because of his background he knew the difference between the state dependent slobs which are mentioned in other posts. While courageous and tenacious in fighting for the deserving in society he would have no truck with they, and you know who they are ! who relinquish all responsibility and in turn demand lives of idleness at tax payers expense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    As this pioneer for the disabled dies the present government of con Dem's are scapegoating and demonising the disabled especially the recipients of DLA which he fought for to recognise the difficulties disabled people face in everyday life PIP the new benefit will see hundreds of thousands of disabled told to get on their bike as they are no-longer deemed as needing help with mobility

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    If the Tory wealthy tax avoiders had paid tax then the genuine unfortunate disability people would have had a decent standard of life.As an ex-tory I have noticed that the right wing are always trying to destroy social values and pretend that they are on the side of taxpayers but avoid payment themselves- it is a feudal party in reality-democracy does not come into it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    Alf Morris was a socialist and a great man. I haven't heard even New Labour say you have rights but no responsibilities,that is a right wing rant.
    The so called underclass (a word used to stigmatise the unemployed) were created in the 80's when their parents were turfed out of their jobs due to ideology and 30 years of neo liberal economic policies hasn't helped

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    Thank God he won't be around to see the Con-Dems 'war on the disabled' when it really starts to bite. 2yrs in and disabled folk are being cast as fraudsters; online petitions demand 'the obese' are banned from using scooters (ever considered that maybe disability preceded the weight gain?) and hate crime, fuelled by certain frothingly hostile papers and their spiteful readers, is spiralling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    The grubby, modern, political crowd don't come close do they.

    One day however, one of these new ones is going to decide to do something, and not just try to be seen as doing something.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Politicians like Alf Morris put today's grabbing lot in Westminster to shame. Always defending the vulnerable,this country has lost the type of bloke it will never replace.
    Camerons mob are undoing the good work Alf fought to achieve.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    IDS, Osbourne and Cameron pale into insignificance when their grasping, self satisfied lives are compared to that of Lord Morris. Show me just one member of this Condem fiasco who understands the meaning of humility?

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.


    I also had the pleasure of meeting him. and of all the comments on this subject I think no 91 sums up my impression of the man.
    He believed in giving people rights but also responsibilities. This is a long way from today’s champagne socialists who believe in rights without responsibility & have created an entire underclass of perfectly healthy state dependent slobs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    I was fortunate to become Constituency Chairman in Wythenshawe in the 80's when some deluded people were trying to de-select Alf as local MP. They were unsuccessful and Alf continued to loyally serve the people of Wythenshawe until 1997. He was a unique politician who cared for all his constituents and was the kind of thoughtful, listening politician that most people can only dream of. RIP Alf.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    5 Hours ago

    What puzzled me here is why the 1970 Bill faced opposition from within the Labour Party. Can anyone elaborate? I hope it was tactical rather than on principle !
    Read/Google The Crossman Diaries, says it all, Crossman was a disgrace to democratic socialism, should have been a Tory, he would have been at home with the present bunch.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    I met Alf Morris on several occasions; he also grew up in Newton Heath where I was born. He inspired me to get into the Disabled Rights movement in Manchester. I remember him attending a meeting with the then Leader of the City Council very supportive of integrated Education for disabled. He was a very passionate and gracious man; a rare combination in a politician. I know I work with them daily.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.


    You arrive at this from a Socialist/Political rant.. The Welfare State will collapse we cannot tax the workers more they are on their heels.
    we cannot borrow more markets will not allow it. Tax evaders difficult due to Globalisation. So we have to work with what we have no1 on the list Disabled. So safe guards yes.
    All economies are flat lined so priorities are now essential..


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