Tory veteran Peter Bottomley awarded knighthood

Peter Bottomley Sir Peter has been an MP since 1975

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Veteran Conservative MP Peter Bottomley has been awarded a knighthood in the New Years Honours list.

Sir Peter, 66, who has been an MP for 35 years and was a junior minister in Margaret Thatcher's government, was honoured for public service.

He is the first MP to receive a knighthood since fellow-Tory Sir Peter Viggers in 2008.

Since the expenses scandal the next year, MPs have been conspicuously absent from the honours list.

Sir Peter is joined on the honours list by Labour's Anne Begg, 55, who is made a dame for services to disabled people and equal opportunities.

The Aberdeen South MP, who was born with Gaucher's disease, a rare genetic condition which causes regular bone breakages, has chaired the All Party Group on Equalities and the All Party Group on Chronic Pain.

'Delighted'

Sir Peter, MP for Worthing West since 1997, previously represented Woolwich West - later renamed Eltham - since a by-election in 1975.

He was a parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Employment, the Department of Transport and the Northern Ireland Office between 1984 and 1990 - but has spent most of his Parliamentary career as a backbencher.

Start Quote

My idea of what public and political service is, is to try to make possible the things which are right”

End Quote Sir Peter Bottomley

His wife, former health secretary Virginia Bottomley, was made a life peer in 2005.

Sir Peter said he was surprised and "delighted" to be knighted at a time when political honours were out of fashion.

He told BBC News it was probably, in part, in recognition of his campaigns on human rights - in the late 1970s he attempted to prevent the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador - and his achievements in helping to cut road deaths as a transport minister in the 1980s.

But he also spoke up for the role of backbench MPs and the importance of public service.

"My idea of what public and political service is, is to try to make possible the things which are right, and you normally do that in association with other people, some in Parliament, some outside of Parliament," he told the BBC News Channel.

Various civil servants also received honours, including the retiring permanent secretary at the Home Office, David Normington. Sir David, who has been in the civil service for 37 years, was also permanent secretary at the Department for Education and Skills. He was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath.

Tom Fletcher, Gordon Brown's former foreign policy adviser, was also appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George.

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