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Discrete CollectionsPolitics, economics and social science collections
TitleMorris; Alfred (1928-2012); Baron Morris; politician
Ref NoMORRIS
LevelCollection
Date1965-1997
Extent124 boxes
Admin Biographical HistoryAlfred Morris was born in Ancoats, Manchester in 1928, one of eight children. He attended Manchester Elementary School, continuing his studies through evening classes at the School when he started work for a local brewery at the age of 14. After National Service, mostly spent in the Far East, Morris studied at Ruskin College, Oxford (1949-1950), St Catherine's College, Oxford (BA modern history 1953) and the Department of Education, Manchester University before becoming a schoolteacher in Manchester in 1954. He was also a university extension lecturer in social history. In 1956 he became an industrial relations officer to the electrical supply industry and has remained a member of the GMB Union ever since. In 1964 Morris became a Member of Parliament for Manchester Wythenshawe under the auspices of the Labour Co-operative group.

Morris served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Fred Peart, the Labour Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, from 1964 but was sacked for failing to support the Government's pro-European policy in 1967. He was also a member of the General Advisory Council of the BBC from 1968 to 1974, a position he would hold again between 1983 and 1997. In 1970 Morris came to prominence with his campaigning on behalf of people with disabilities. His father had been gassed in the First World War and suffered a long decline in health which had led to tremendous hardship being placed on his family, and especially Morris' mother. Furthermore, when he first married, Morris went to live at the home of his wife's parents, both of whom were disabled. These experiences gave Morris a first hand knowledge of the blight caused by disablement not only to a disabled person but also to their families. They led to his championing of the disability cause. In 1970 he introduced a Private Members' Bill into the House which would become law under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act. Designed to improve local authority provision for disabled people, it was the first piece of major legislation which dealt with the experience of disabled living as a whole, rather than addressing individual issues. For this achievement, and his other campaigning, Morris became the first recipient of Field Marshal Lord Harding Award for distinguished service to the disabled in 1971. This was followed by the Louis Braille Memorial Award for outstanding services to the blind in 1972. From 1970 Morris was opposition front bench spokesman for the Social Services. With the election of a Labour Government in 1974, Harold Wilson appointed Morris to the post of Minister for the Disabled, the first such post created anywhere in the world. In 1979 Morris was appointed by Rehabilitation International as Chair of the World Planning Group, charged with the task of drafting the UN sponsored 'Charter for the 80s', a Charter for disabled people worldwide.

With the election of a Conservative Government in 1979, Morris resumed his post as opposition front bench spokesman for the Social Services. In 1981 he became opposition spokesman on disability issues and , though out of government, Morris continued to actively campaign both inside and outside the House for disabled people. His introduction of a disability debate became an annual event on Parliament's calendar and in 1991 he introduced the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill.

Morris was not only concerned with issues surrounding disabled people, he also retained close links with his Wythenshawe constituency and Manchester as a whole. He actively promoted the expansion of Manchester Airport over Stansted at the public inquiries held in the early 1980s and continued to be involved with the development of his local airport thereafter. Morris also campaigned to ease poverty in the Manchester area during the 1980s and 90s. Morris had a vivid memory of the battles fought trying to establish his mother's status as a war widow and this led to his heavy involvement with work on behalf of ex-servicemen and women and their relatives, campaigning for better pensions and benefits for those affected by service for the country.

Morris held many posts whilst an MP. He was Chairman of the Co-operative Parliamentary Group from 1982 to 1984 and Chairman of the Anzac Group of MPs and Peers from 1982 to 1997, becoming President of the Group in 1997. He was both Joint Treasurer of the British-American Parliamentary Group and Chairman, Managing Trustees of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Scheme, and the House of Commons Members' Fund from 1983 until he retired as an MP. Morris was also appointed to the Select Committee on Privileges in 1994, a post he held until he left the House. Morris was made President of the Co-operative Congress, the Movements highest post, in 1995; he was also President of the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists in 1998 and Chairman of the Haemophilia Society in 1999. On his retirement from Parliament in 1997 he was created a life peer as Baron Morris of Manchester in the County of Greater Manchester.

Morris' brother Charles was also an MP between 1963 and 1983, and his niece, Estelle Morris, was elected to Parliament in 1992.

Morris died on 12 August 2012. He is survived by his wife, Irene, and his two sons and two daughters.

Publications: The growth of Parliamentary scrutiny by Committee (Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1970); Needs before means: an exposition of the underlying purposes of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act, 1970 (Co-operative Union, Manchester, 1971); No feet to drag: report on the disabled (Sidgwick and Jackson, London, 1972).
DescriptionPapers of Alfred Morris, Baron Morris of Manchester and Labour politician. Comprises material relating to Morris' work for disabled people; papers relating to Morris' wider work as a Member of Parliament and to his Wythenshawe Constituency and Manchester; papers concerning Labour Party issues, the Co-operative movement and other organisations and institutions.
Access StatusMainly open; some items closed
Copyright TypeCopyright is held by the depositor
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