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 and, in 1972, while still a student, he was elected to Liverpool City Council as Britain’s youngest City Councillor. In 1979 he became the youngest member of the House of Commons and, in 1997, and when he stood down from the Commons, he was appointed a Life Peer.
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 meningitis…
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 (1997-2016); Hon.Professor at Yanbian University, China.
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/ He retired from this role in 2016.
In 1987 he published “What Kind of Country?” – the first of eleven 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 presented by the Cardinal Archbishop of Seoul , 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. In 2014 he was given an award for his human rights work by the Coptic community and in 2016 was made an honorary fellow of Liverpool John Moores University for his work on citizenship. In August 2016, at a ceremony in Rome, he was given the St.Thomas More Religious Freedom Award for his commitment to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. in 2017 he was awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit by Janos Ader, President of Hungary, in recognition of his work in promoting freedom of religion and belief, human rights and for helping to strengthen the ties between the two countries.
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 APGs on Tibet, Egypt, Freedom of Thought and Belief, and the APG on Foreign Affairs. He is Treasurer of the Parliamentary Friends of CAFOD. He is a Board Member of the Washington-based Institute on Religion and Public Policy http://www.religionandpolicy.org/cms/. In 2016 he was appointed as one of the “Sages” International Advisory Group on NorthKorea’s Human Rights.
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
Building Bridges – Is there hope for North Korea? (with Rob Chidley). published by Lion, 2013.
David Alton is a Patron, Trustee, President, or Vice President of a number of voluntary organisations.
House of Lords: 0207 219 3551
Postal address: House of Lords, London SW1A OPW.
Parliamentary Speeches and Interventions: 1979 – 2005
- 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
Last recorded on this site , on March 17, 2005 Mental Capacity Bill Lords. For later contributions (2005-present) visit www.theyworkforyou.com 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.
Citation: on receipt of LJMU Fellowship, 2016:
13/07/2016 | LJMU News release | Distributed by Public on 13/07/2016 15:39
Ambassador Fellowship: Professor The Lord David Alton
13th July 2016 | Written by Corporate Communications
Presented by: Jim Davies, High Sheriff of Merseyside
Honourable Pro-Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting Professor the Lord David Alton for the award of an Ambassador Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.
We propose Lord Alton in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the civic life of the city of Liverpool over more than four decades and at the University over the last two decades through the Roscoe Lecture Series and its associated Good Citizenship Awards.
David has never been one to shy away from a challenge – whether as the local councillor for Low Hill and Smithdown, where he was elected while still a student, as the MP for Edge Hill and Mossley Hill – the youngest member of the House of Commons – or as a human rights campaigner speaking on behalf of people in countries such as Burma, Tibet or North Korea – all of which he has visited.
But even he admits that establishing a public lecture series in 1997 after he stepped down from the House of Commons was a gamble and there was some scepticism about whether they would have any appeal.
Few, let alone David himself, would have predicted that nearly 20 years later the University would have given over 140 lectures to audiences averaging around 1,000 people per event.
David named the lecture series after one of his heroes, the 19th century polymath William Roscoe – one of the founders of the small institute which has evolved into this university.
Like David, Roscoe had the courage of his convictions, he was willing to defy the odds and follow his conscience, such as voting against slavery while MP for Liverpool in 1807 despite widespread public opposition.
I have no doubt that Roscoe would be proud that the lecture series that now bears his name has helped to change, not just the opinions of people attending talks, but also wider perceptions of the city itself.
Launched in the aftermath of the Toxteth riots, de-industrialisation, huge unemployment and the Militant era, the lectures have helped to promote the need for tolerance, respect, for more co-operative politics, and for people to work together for the good of the city. The lectures have given a platform to industrialists, scientists, Cabinet Ministers, heads of state, football managers, comedians, campaigners and even members of the Royal family, to share their views and join with the people of Liverpool to debate the issues that really matter to the city.
Through the Roscoe Lectures, David has enabled the University to tackle a wide range of issues head on through public debate. Many have explored the lighter side of life, such as the role of humour in times of trouble, by comedian Ken Dodd, while others have examined the darker side of humanity, with harrowing but essential lectures by survivors of the Holocaust and the genocide in Rwanda. Such true life testimonies demonstrate powerfully what can happen when you lose the freedoms we enjoy and sometimes take too much for granted. In the aftermath of the 2005 London bombings, David helped orchestrate a mini-series called Learning to Live Together, with lectures from speakers representing the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths.
That’s what’s so powerful about the Roscoe Lectures, they bring people of all ages, backgrounds and occupations together and by doing so, help promote the dignity of difference and the importance of being tolerant.
Throughout his time at the University, David has championed good citizenship and celebrated the important role that young people play in civic life across the region. LJMU now presents Good Citizenship Awards in around 800 schools and colleges across the region as well as within the University itself. From caring for disabled parents to raising money for good causes, the inspirational winners of these awards are the antithesis of the negative stereotypes of young people often peddled by the media and should fill us with hope for the future.
David is often heard saying ‘if you want to change the world you have to change your country, if you want to change your country you have to change your community, if you want to change your community, you have to change your family, and if you want to change your family you have to change yourself.’
Through his work at the University he has demonstrated how we can all play a part in changing our community, our city, and ourselves for the better.
As David prepares to retire from LJMU, he leaves a legacy of hope and a vision of a tolerant society, predicated on respect for others and freedom of speech, an ideal which is more important than ever given the turbulent and often violent times in which we live today.
Thus, it is with great pleasure that I present Professor the Lord David Alton, this most distinguished citizen of Liverpool, for an Ambassador Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.