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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  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    That's all well and good saying the 1%, but I doubt that's accurate. There are many disabilities and illnesses where people can not work or will never work. There are: high end spectrum of autism, advanced/untreatable cancers, bad cases of IBS, advanced cases of MS, severe ME, paraplegics, coma patients, severe mental health issues...need any more?

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    "...David Cameron on Boris Johnson: he's a 'Tory titan'..."


    Well you're three-fifths right, Dave.

    Alf would have been unimpressed...

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    We have lost a true champion for our cause. When no one else cared lord Morris fought for our rights which led the way in advancing our rights,

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.


    We the workers ? you are one worker and you can only ever speak for yourself not the rest of us ! The 1% deserving is a made up figure. The funny thing about people is when it comes to someone to blame they always look down, its always unemployed, homeless, gypsies. Money on the other hand always heads upwards !

    I hope one day you do not need the welfare system you are so keen to kill

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    midget if only you knew the truth
    dla is the biggest cash cow out there
    most people on sick for a long time can do some form of work so why shouldn't they
    we the workers are fed up of being leached off
    so yes only 1% deserve their benefits the rest should get back to work
    we are too soft as a nation
    and sentiments like those from you will not help resolve it
    wake up to the truth

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    You need to quit your job if you feel like that, also the evidence says that if you were to reverse your 99% are scroungers to 1% you are a lot nearer the right figure.

    Please do no just throw figures around like you know what you are talking about !

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    ok if you have a disability but that disability may not restrict you from some form of work,as i work with people that are registered blind,amputees,those that suffer with MS,fibromyalga,deaf people good grief the list goes on and they are thankful of the changes alf made for them like i am but 99% of those on disability benefits that don't work are scroungers and need weeding out,

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    @147 Dave

    The government wanted to cut benefits, the media started running with the deserving and non deserving poor most of these articles were aimed at people on incapacity benefits, the everday people started to believe the stories, now disabled people are facing verbal abuse in the streets (the bbc ran a article on this) ...

    So what is your point ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    Nemesis of Reverse Snob Socialist Workers
    sooo true m8
    labour is not for the working people it is deffo for the non working people
    the more money you throw at inequality the more unequal we all become

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    this coalition is not killing the work Alf did you the public are
    shame shame shame on you

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    A truly inspiring politician. So unlike the mean spirited, shameless petty thieves and vagabonds of the coalition.

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    He did what we pay politicians to do.

    Make life better for people rather than make profits for parasites.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    Although Alf Morris, rightly, championed the rights of disabled people, these rights improved things for all of us. They resulted in better design, improved lighting, non-slip surfaces, etc. These are all things which all of us take for granted nowadays and make for a safer community. It also created a more compassionate community. Yes the media still report bad actions, but things are kinder now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    Very sad made even more so by this government killing of a lot of the work he did. this government had to make people turn against disabled people before it could make such drastic cuts to benefits ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    #121 Attention seeking tithead
    I can't think of a word that adequately conveys how much of a clot you are..

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    I could think of no more fitting tribute to Lord Morris than if The Contaminated Blood (Support for Infected and Bereaved Persons) Bill, which he sponsored, be passed by Parliament.

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    @angler fish very well said this is what is so frustrating about the selfish individuals in this once great country. Even when people are touched by sadness and every person is. They soon revert back to there uncaring and selfish self. It is not an excuse to say that people are busy nowadays. Sadly the majority simply do not know how to care for others in need. we live in a very sad society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    135. Stevie

    Sadly I think you're correct. But why won't we be represented by men like this again. My guess is because people won't vote for them. As far as I can see a person who focuses on the needs of a minority, any minority, is going nowhere. What a sorry state.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    I will admit, before today I had never heard of this man. Read today's article, went away and did some research, and I have to say I personally have a lot to thank this man for.
    Thanks to him I was not made homeless when I lost my job due to my disability. Thanks to him for keeping food on my table while I study. Thanks to him I have a way to get back into work without discrimination. Thank you!

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    Disabled rights pioneer Lord Morris of Manchester dies.

    A man from an era when Labour actually cared about the group that created and financed it.


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