For 18 years David Alton was a Member of the House of Commons and today is an Independent Crossbench Life Peer. He began his career as a teacher but, in 1972, he was elected to Liverpool City Council as Britain’s youngest City Councillor. He became the youngest member of the House of Commons in 1979 and, in 1997, David was made a Life Peer of the House of Lords.
1951 – Born David Patrick Paul Alton, son of Frederick and Bridget Alton. His father served in the Eighth Army, the Essex Regiment, and was a “Desert Rat,” subsequently working all his life for the Ford Motor Company. His mother was an
Irish-speaking immigrant from the West of Ireland, whose own parents died in quick succession, probably of meningittis.
1962 – He left St Helens School Brentwood, and obtained a scholarship to the new Jesuit School, named for St. Edmund Campion, at Hornchurch.
1968 – He was elected as Chairman of the Brentwood Young Liberals and was involved in public protests against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and against apartheid in South Africa.
1969 – A student at Christ College Liverpool, he was elected as Chairman of the South Liverpool Young Liberals and Chairman of his branch of the Union of Liberal Students.
1972 – Left College with distinctions and took up a teaching post in Kirkby, Lancashire, later working for five years for Sefton Education Authority with children with special needs. Elected as Chairman of the North West Federation of Young Liberals. Elected as the country’s youngest City Councillor to Liverpool City Council, at the age of 21.
1973 – Elected to Merseyside County Council and subsequently appointed as Chief Whip of his Council Group.
1974 – At the age of 23 he was selected to contest Liverpool Edge Hill at the February and October General Elections. Taking second place he was one of only two candidates in the UK to improve their share of the poll between the two elections.
1978 – Deputy Leader of the Council and Housing Chairman.
1979 – In the same year of being appointed the national president for the National League of Liberals, David won Liverpool Edge Hill in a by-election to become an MP and his Parliamentary career began. Having become the youngest MP of the Parliament he was also the shorted-lived being elected the day after the Callaghan Government lost a Vote of Confidence. He made his Maiden Speech two and a half hours after taking his seat.
David Alton was appointed Liberal Party spokesman on the environment and race relations, until 1981. During his time as an MP, David was a Member of a number of Select Committees – Environment (1981-1985) and House of Commons Privileges Committee (1994-1997). He was also a member of a host of All Party Select Groups – Vice Chairman of Drugs Misuse (1993-1997), Treasurer of Pro-Life (1993), Landmines (1996), Friends of CAFOD, Chairman of Street Children (1992-1997) and Secretary of the All-Party Ukraine Group (1990).
1981 – David Alton was appointed Liberal Party spokesman for Home Affairs.
1983 – David Alton won the Parliamentary seat Liverpool, Mossley Hill – a seat he holds until 1997. During his time as a Liberal MP, he was appointed Chief Whip as well as holding positions with the Liberal Party Housing Environmental Home Affairs Overseas Aid Local Government departments and was appointed Alliance Spokesman on Northern Ireland
1985 – David Alton was made Chief Whip of the Liberal Party, until 1987
1987 – Appointed Liberal-SDP Alliance Spokesman for Northern Ireland, until 1988. In the same year David helped to create the Jubilee Campaign – an interdominational Christian human rights pressure group lobbying Parliamentarians and governments for persecuted Christians and children’s rights world-wide. He resigned as Liberal chief Whip after coming third in the Private Members’ Ballot and introduced a Bill to stop late abortions. His first book What Kind of Country? is published.
1988 – His Private Members Bill received 296 votes in favour of its Second Reading – a majority of 45. The Bill was subsequently talked out by opponents but never lost a vote at any stage. He married Elizabeth Bell, a speech therapist specialising with the mentally handicapped, and daughter of the Reverend Philip and Mrs Dilys Bell. David and Elizabeth have four children. His second book Whose Choice Anyway? is published.
1989 – He brought together the Epiphany Group and published The Westminster Declaration, which led the next year to the formation of the Movement for Christian Democracy.
1990 – David Alton co-founded the Movement for Christian Democracy. 2,000 gathered at the Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, endorsed The Westminster Declaration and founded the Movement for Christian Democracy. He was also elected Treasurer of the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group.
1991 – the Jewish community of Merseyside plant trees in thanks to David for his work for the community (and again in 1993).
1992 – He announced that he would not stand again as a Liberal Democrat after the Party made abortion a party policy for the first time. Earlier in the day, at the same Conference, they had passed an animal welfare motion which included protection for goldfish on sale in amusement arcades and funfairs. Subsequently the party called for Royal Commissions to examine the legalisation of euthanasia and drugs and passed policy supporting “therapeutic” cloning of human embryos. His book Faith in Britain is published.
1995 – He became the founding co-chairman of the All-Party Street Children Group.
1996 – David Alton was made a Visiting Fellow of St. Andrews University. Signs of Contradiction is published.
1997 – David Alton was appointed Professor of Citizenship at Liverpool John Moores University and founds the Foundation for Citizenship there. In the same year he was created the youngest life peer and opted to sit as an independent Crossbencher, having left the Liberal Democrats over the pro-life issues. The Christian Democratic Press publishes Life After Death. David was also awarded The Michael Bell Memorial Award for “Initiatives for Life” by the International Alliance of Catholic Knights and Knights of St. Columba.
1998 – He became Chairman and non-executive Director of the Banner Ethical Investment Fund.
1999 – Appointed to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference Bioethics Commission of England and Wales. Citizen Virtues is published by HarperCollins.
2000 – David Alton visited Moscow in September on behalf of the St Francis & St Sergius Trust (now renamed Partners in Hope) to visit street children projects. He was appointed as a trustee of the Trust. In the same year he led the campaign to free James Mawdsley who was in prison in Burma for distributing pro-democracy leaflets. A further debate about Burma was held in the House of Lords on 2 October 2000. He joined the All-Party Parliamentary Friend of CAFOD Group, and was elected Treasurer.
2001 – David Alton was one of the leading campaigners within Parliament seeking to thwart the Government’s attempts to legalise so called “therapeutic cloning”. He was invited to give oral evidence in November 2001 to the House of Lords Select Committee on Stem Cell Research. In October 2001 his book, Pilgrim Ways – a guide to Catholic pilgrimage sites in England and Wales – was published by St. Pauls. Citizen 21 is also published.
2002 – David Alton made a visit to Azerbaijan and Georgia, and wrote a report on the situation there. He also visited the south of the Sudan, subsequently producing a report, and initiated a House of Lords debate on the situation there. He was also appointed a Board Member of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy in Washington DC. He was made a Kinght of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George. In the autumn, he made a visit to Birmingham, Alabama to make 16 programmes for EWTN on the subject of the Suffering Church. He also initiated a debate and a campaign on the trafficking of children.
2003 – He visited the Burma border, Laos and Vietnam in January, and has published reports on issues of human rights and religious liberties there. He delivered a lecture on the subject of “J.R.R. Tolkien, Catholicism and Allegory” at the Catholic Chaplaincy of Bath University and Bath Spa University. In March, he also initiated a debate on North Korea in the House of Lords. David visited North Korea with Baroness Cox, raised human rights and security issues, and published a report on the situation there. Published Passion and Pain and accompanying TV series (available on DVD from Jubilee Campaign).
2004 – Visited the favellas of Brazil and published a report on the killing of street children. Later launched the web site http://www.stopkillingchildren.com. Was elected founding Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Committee on North Korea. On behalf of Jubilee Action he visited Congo, Rwanda, and Darfur and published reports on his findings. Hosted the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Liverpool John Moores University. In Washington was presented with The Good Samaritan Award by Advocates International. Presented graduation awards to lawyers at Handong University in South Korea.
2005 – Celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Liverpool Edge Hill by-election; Re-elected as Chairman of the North Korea APG; elected Vice Chairman of the All Party Tibet Committee and Secretary of the All Party Sudan Committee. Co-founded the Jedidiah Foundation (for the Congo); appeared before a Congressional Committee chaired by congressman Chris Smith to give evidence on the imprisonment, trafficking and use of violence against street children. Hosted hearings at Westminster on the abuse of human rights in North Korea and Burma. With Martin Foley, published new books on euthanasia and abortion. Following the bombings of July 7, he initiated a “Learning To Live Together” mini-lecture series in Liverpool, addressed by key figures from the great faiths, including Sheik Dr.Zaki Badawi and Rabbi Herschel Gluck.
Today – The “Good Citizen Award Schemes” now operate in over 900 schools across the North-West of England, and 100 Roscoe Lectures have been staged in Liverpool, many of which drew audiences of over 1000. He was created a Knight Commander of the Military Order of St.Constatine and St.George in recognbition of his work for inter faifh and ecumenical dialogue.
2006-13 He has continued to host the Roscoe Lecture Series; has travelled to, and produced reports about, the situation in Tibet, North Korea, Southern Sudan, and following a visit to India raised the plight of India’s Dalits. In recognition of his work for human rights and religious liberty, in 2006 he became a Knight Commander of St.Gregory. Throughout 2008, he vigorously opposed legislation permitting further experimentation on human embryos, including animal-human hybrid embryos and “saviour siblings” and spoke at over 30 public meetings throughout the UK opposing these measures. In 2010 he hosted a 12-part television series on the plight of persecuted Christians. In 2011 successfully steered a Private Members Bill through all its stages in the House of Lords. The Re-export Control Bill regulates the re-sale of weapons into areas of conflict. In Parliament he has continued to speak out regularly on a range of issues; in March 2011 he organised a visit to the United Kingdom of a delegation from North Korea, which included the Speaker, Choe Tae Bok; he was appointed Vice Delegate of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George and he hosted the 100th Roscoe Lecture at the Philharmonic Hall Liverpool.
The lectures continue in 2012 and 2013 and among the lecturers have been the Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond MSP, the astronaut, Professor David Hilmers, writers Will Hutton and Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Dickens’ biographer, Claire Tomalin, and the founder of The Big Issue, John Bird MBE. He gave an oration on the presentation, in absentia, of an honorary fellowship to the deposed President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed; and arranged for the Fellowship awarded earlier to Aung San Suu Kyi to be presented to her personally during her visit to the UK.
At a small party at The Yuet Ben Restaurant in Liverpool, in May 2012 he celebrated 40 years since his election to Liverpool City Council; delivered the Tyburn Lecture in London on the subject of religious freedom and contemporary persecution; a lecture in Rome on the encyclical Pacem in Terris; a lecture at Hope University, Liverpool, on Political Engagement and spoke at the Celebrate Conference on Religious Persecution.
In Parliament, he promoted a successful amendment to give greater protection to victims of mesothelioma, defeating the Government in two votes in the House of Lords. He hosted a reception at Speaker’s House to promote the Christian Heritage Centre project – and a further talk on this at the Georgetown Club in Washington DC ; gave an address at a conference at the American Congress on the plight of Egypt’s Copts; spoke at the Clear Voices conference at Buckfast and at Blackburn Cathedral on human trafficking; and spoke in a number of parliamentary debates. He spoke on active citizenship at a number of schools including Millfield, Worth Abbey, St.Mary’s Blackburn, and the Oratory; and was invited to present the prizes at his old school, Campion School, on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary. He spoke and presided at the British launch of the movie “It’s A Girl” – which focuses on gender abortions.
During a visit to Jilin Province, in North East China, he was made an honorary professor of Yanbian University of Science and Technology and is a patron of its “daughter” university, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. At YUST he delivered a lecture on the nature of citizenship. He gave several lectures in Seoul on human rights, citizenship and political engagement. He spoke at a Conference in Nairobi, at Strathmore University, on Bioethics and opposed a Motion in the Oxford Union calling for the legalisation of assisted dying. In Manchester he gave the Maranatha Lecture on “The Sharp Compassion of the Healer’s Art”, and in Liverpool opened the 150th anniversary conference celebrating 150 years of nursing.He acted as one of the judges at Cambridge University’s Wilberforce Society, addressed The Keys opn “Identity and Story”, spoke at London University’s Chaplaincy on “Tolkien and Lewis”, chaired a symposium at the House of Lords on religious toleration addressed by Cardinal Scola of Milan, spoke at the anniversary celebration of the Catholic National Library, and gave the key note address at the London launch of the Alliance of Pro-life Students. In the House he has recently spoken on Hillsborough, the effects of spending cuts on the poor, changes to the Motability scheme and their effect on disabled people, animal-human hybrids, gender abortions, and he secured a debate on North Korea.
All-Party Committees in Parliament
He is a member of several All Party Groups and is Chairman of the All Party Group (APG) on North Korea
What Kind of Country? Marshall Pickering 1987
Whose choice anyway? Marshall Pickering 1988
Faith in Britain Hodder & Stoughton 1991
Signs of Contradiction Hodder & Stoughton 1996
Life After Death Christian Democrat Press 1997
Citizen Virtues Harper Collins 1999
Citizen 21 Harper Collins 2001
Pilgrim Ways St Pauls Publishing 2001Passion and Pain (with Michele Lombardo) and accompanying DVD of TV series 2003
Euthanasia: Getting To The Heart of The Matter (with Martin Foley) 2005
Abortion: Getting To The Heart of The Matter (with Martin Foley) 2005
To be published in 2013 – Building Bridges – Is there hope for North Korea? (with Rob Chidley). to be published by Lion.
Curriculum Vitae: David Alton (Rt. Hon .Professor the Lord Alton of Liverpool )
London, UK, 1951 of British and Irish parents. Holds British and Irish citizenship.
Edmund Campion School, Essex; Christ College Liverpool
(achieved academic distinctions); St.Andrews University, Scotland (fellowship):
Professor of Citizenship, Liverpool John Moores University.
Married to Elizabeth Bell, with four children. Resident in Lancashire, UK.
Qualified as a teacher in 1972, working in socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods, teaching immigrant children and later children with special needs. While still a student, aged 21, he was elected to Liverpool City Council and became its Housing Chairman and Deputy Leader.
Elected in 1979 to the House of Commons for a Liverpool constituency, as a Liberal, becoming the youngest member and achieving a record political swing.
He was his Party’s spokesman on Home Affairs, Northern Ireland, Overseas Development and the Environment, and served as Chief Whip, Chairman of the Party’s Policy Committee and President of the National League of Young Liberals.
In 1997 he stood down from the House of Commons, and from party politics, and was nominated by the Prime Minister, Sir John Major, to the House of Lords, where he sits as an Independent Life Peer, speaking regularly on human rights and religious liberty issues. In 1997 he was appointed as Professor of Citizenship at Liverpool John Moores University and established the hugely successful Roscoe Foundation for Citizenship: http://www.ljmu.ac.uk/roscoe/
In 1987 he published “What Kind of Country?” – the first of ten books. He has also authored several reports on human rights in countries such as North Korea, Burma, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Brazil, Sudan/Darfur, Tibet and Rwanda – all of which he has visited. Details of his reports and speeches on human rights and religious liberties are available on this web site.
2010 Report: Sudan On The Brink
Tibet Report, 2009 http://www.davidalton.com/2009/11/FINAL_PDF_Tibet_Report.pdf
North Korea Report: 2009: http://www.davidalton.com/2009/03/DPRK_2009_VISIT.doc
North Korea Report: 2003 http://www.davidalton.com/nkfinalreport.html
Darfur Report: 2004: http://www.davidalton.com/darfurreport.html
Congo Report 2004: http://www.davidalton.com/congoreport.html
Rwanda report 2004: http://www.davidalton.com/rwandareport.html
Vietnam and Religious Liberties, 2004: http://www.davidalton.com/2007/11/Vietnam%20and%20Religious%20Liberty.html
Dignitas Humanae and Its contribution to international religious freedom (the Review of Faith and International Affairs): 2006: http://www.davidalton.com/spchdignitatis.html
Building Bridges Not Walls: 2010 Report on the case for constructive but critical engagement in North Korea, following a visit to North Korea by David Alton and Baroness Caroline Cox:
Among the international awards he has received are the Michael Bell Memorial Award for Initiatives for Life, the Korean Mystery of Life Award, and the Good Samaritan Advocates International Award for human rights work. In 2005 he was created a Knight Commander of the Military Order of Constantine and St. George in recognition of his work for inter-faith and ecumenical dialogue. In 2008 he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory in recognition of his work for human rights and religious liberty. In 2012 he was awarded an honorary professorship by China’s Yanbian University of Science and Technology.
Human Rights Work
In 1987, with Danny Smith, he launched the human rights group, Jubilee Campaign, which led to campaigns, visits and reports on the plight of Jewish and Christian dissidents in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe: http://www.jubileecampaign.co.uk/
Throughout the 1990s, and subsequently, he has continued his campaigns for human rights and the sanctity of human life. In Parliament he is Chairman of the All Party Group on North Korea, Secretary of the APG on Sudan and Vice Chairman of the APG on Tibet and the APG on Foreign Affairs. He is Treasurer of the Parliamentary Friends of CAFOD; and Convenor of the All Party Committee for Human Dignity. He is a Board Member of the Washington-based Institute on Religion and Public Policy http://www.religionandpolicy.org/cms/
David Alton is a Patron, Trustee, President, or Vice President of the following organisations:
Crisis (charity for the homeless)
Habitat for Humanity
Mersey Kidney Research
Jospice (St.Joseph’s Hospice, Merseyside.)
Right To Life
Zoe’s Place, Liverpool.
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Turkana New Ways Appeal (Kenya)
Motec Life (Ghana)
Asylum Link Merseyside
The Bible Society
UK Coptic Assiociation
Stephen’s Children (Cairo)
Francis House, Manchester.
Friends of St. Mary Abbot’s
Foundation Governor of The Liverpool Bluecoat School
Governor of Stonyhurst College
Friends of St.George’s Hall, Liverpool.
Liverpool and Merseyside Branch, English Speaking Union
ACAT – Action by Christians Against Torture
Local Government Association
House of Lords: 0207 219 3551
University: 0151 231 3852 (Secretary: Mrs. Barbara Mace)
Postal address: House of Lords, London SW1A OPW.
Parliamentary Speeches and Interventions: 1979 – 2005
Mr David Alton
March 15, 1951 -
- Liverpool Edge Hill March 29, 1979 – June 9, 1983
- Liverpool Mossley Hill June 9, 1983 – March 8, 1988
- Liverpool Mossley Hill March 8, 1988 – May 1, 1997
Titles in Lords
- Baron Alton (Lord Alton of Liverpool, of Mossley Hill in Liverpool) 1997 -
First recorded, on April 3, 1979 FINANCE BILL Commons
and see: http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/mp.php?mpn=Lord_Alton_of_Liverpool&mpc=Lords&house=lords
Information presented on this page was prepared from the XML source files, together with information from the History of Parliament Trust, the work of Leigh Rayment and public sources. The means by which names are recognised means that errors may remain in the data presented.