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The Lord Alton of Liverpool
|Liberal Chief Whip|
1985 – 11 June 1987
|Preceded by||Alan Beith|
|Succeeded by||Jim Wallace|
|Member of the House of Lords|
|Assumed office |
17 June 1997
|Member of Parliament|
for Liverpool Mossley Hill
Liverpool Edge Hill (1979–1983)
30 March 1979 – 1 May 1997
|Preceded by||Sir Arthur Irvine|
|Succeeded by||Constituency abolished|
David Patrick Paul Alton
15 March 1951
|Political party||None (Crossbench)|
Liberal Democrat (1988–1997)
|Alma mater||Liverpool Hope University|
He is a former Liberal Party and later Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament who has sat as a crossbench member of the House of Lords since 1997 when he was made a life peer. He is known for his human rights work including the co-founding of Jubilee Action, the children's charity (which changed its name to Chance for Childhood in 2014), and serves as chair, patron or trustee of several charities and voluntary organisations.
Born in London on 15 March 1951, His father was a Desert Rat who had served in the Eighth Army, and then worked for the Ford Motor Company. His mother was a native Irish speaker from the West of Ireland. After being rehoused from the East End Alton was brought up in a council flat on an overspill council estate. He passed a scholarship exam to join the first intake of a new Jesuit grammar school and was educated at the Campion School, Hornchurch, Essex, and Christ's College of Education, Liverpool. He began his career as a teacher and, in 1972, he was elected as a Liberal to Liverpool City Council as Britain's youngest city councillor. Alton was elected for the Low Hill ward from 1972 to 1974 then after the Local Government Act 1974 he was elected for the Smithdown ward (1974–1980). Also a member of Merseyside County Council for the Smithdown division from 1974 to 1977 and chairman of the housing committee. He was deputy leader of Liverpool City Council from 1975 to 1978.
Alton was elected as Member of Parliament for Liverpool Edge Hill at a by-election in 1979 for the Liberal Party, when he became the "Baby of the House". achieving a record swing of 36.8% and 64% of the vote. He won the seat the day after the Callaghan Government was defeated in a vote of confidence and the 1979 General Election being called. He became the shortest lived MP, a member for less than a week, and made his Maiden Speech within three hours of taking his seat. Five weeks later he was re-elected and went on to serve as a Liverpool MP for 18 years, before standing down. He was the only new member of a Parliamentary Party of 11 MPs. He campaigned on the slogan “Everyone Knows Someone Who Has Been Helped by David Alton.”
From 1979 to 1988 he served at various times as spokesman on the environment, home affairs, Northern Ireland and as Chief Whip. He is known for his strongly pro-life position on abortion, and in 1987 he resigned as Chief Whip to campaign for his unsuccessful private member's bill which aimed to stop late abortions. He became a Liberal Democrats MP when the Liberal Party merged with the SDP in 1988, but he had difficult relations with parts of the party, especially over attempts to make the party adopt a pro-choice position on abortion. In 1992, he announced that he would not stand again as a Liberal Democrat after the party passed a policy that he believed committed the party to support abortion for the first time. However, he withdrew from this, after a motion passed in Spring 1993 stated that the party had no position on the substantive issue of abortion.
He stood down as an MP at the 1997 general election. He was made a life peer as Baron Alton of Liverpool, of Mossley Hill in the County of Merseyside as a personal choice of John Major in the Dissolution Honours, and took his seat in the House of Lords as a crossbencher.
Lord Alton is chairman of the British-DPRK All-Party Parliamentary Group, and visited Pyongyang in October 2010 when he had talks with leaders of the North Korean government including Choe Thae Bok, chairman of the Supreme People's Assembly, the country's rubber-stamp parliament.
In 1997, Alton was appointed Professor of Citizenship at Liverpool John Moores University, establishing the Foundation for Citizenship and the Roscoe Lectures. The lecture series explores citizenship and lectures have been given by commentators including the 14th Dalai Lama and Prince Charles.
Lord Alton established the lobby group for human rights, Jubilee Campaign, in 1987, with the support of other members of parliament. He also co-founded Jubilee Action, a children's charity established to fulfil the humanitarian needs highlighted by the work of Jubilee Campaign. In 2014 Jubilee Action changed its name to Chance for Childhood.
In 2008, he spoke out against the British Olympic Association when it forced athletes to sign an agreement forbidding them from criticising China's human rights record before or during the 2008 Summer Olympics.
He is a patron of the International Young Leaders Network and Save the Congo!, a small international rights group founded by the Congolese rights activist Vava Tampa to end the political crisis that continues to give rise to wars, conflicts and violence that have killed over 5.4 million people in Congo.
Alton has been appointed to two Roman Catholic orders of chivalry; he is a Knight Commander of Merit of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George (2003) and a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great (2008).
Lord Alton has published several non-fiction titles:
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Sir Arthur Irvine
| Member of Parliament for Liverpool Edge Hill
|New constituency|| Member of Parliament for Liverpool Mossley Hill
| Baby of the House
|Party political offices|
| Liberal Chief Whip