Tory peer who gave powerful same-sex marriage speech becomes first to retire

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

An elderly Tory peer who gave a moving speech in support of same-sex marriage will make history as the first member of the House of Lords to publicly retire.

88-year-old Lord Patrick Jenkin of Roding, a former member of the Thatcher cabinet, won acclaim for the widely-read speech in June last year, in which he voiced his strong belief in equality.

He said:  “Last year, my wife and I celebrated our diamond wedding, and I have to say that it has been a marriage with mutual comfort and support. Is this Bill going to redefine that marriage? I cannot see how that could possibly happen.”

Lord Jenkin was nominated for Speech of the Year at the 2013 PinkNews awards.

Appointments were previously for life, but the House of Lords Reform Act – which came into force in May – gives peers the right to formally retire from the House for the first time.

Lord Jenkin revealed today that he plans to become the first to exercise his right to quit the Lords next week, after over five decades in politics.

He told the Telegraph: “I have done 50 years. I am now 88 and quite frankly, I have had enough. My wife, Monica, and I will probably move away from London. There is no hurry about this, but we are reaching the end of our lives, we are both nearer 90 than 80 and you can’t go on for ever.

“If the party leaders want to continue to appoint new fresh faces, which I very much support – we need younger people to come in, people with [current] experience and so on – then the rest of us who have been here for some time need to think – and I will put it quite cautiously when I speak on Tuesday – about whether it is time for us to consider going.

“I will be setting the arguments about the fact that the House is getting too big. We want new younger blood coming in, that is absolutely clear, and at the moment that can only happen if you increase the numbers even further or wait for people to die.”

Lord Jenkin hailed the passage of same-sex marriage as a victory for common decency.

He will deliver his ‘valedictory’ speech in the Lords on Tuesday, making history as the first peer to do so.

Watch his marriage speech below: